Even in the middle of winter, there are signs that the 2017 MLS season is taking shape, as many teams participate in training camp.
At locations across the country, several clubs are getting an early start to the year through practices and preseason games. That gives soccer fans an opportunity to plan on taking in some action in the early weeks of 2017.
Here is an overview of some of the notable preseason camps and tournaments to keep an eye on:
Preseason in Tucson
In what is quickly becoming a signature event, MLS teams are heading to Tucson to partake in preseason at the Kino Sports Complex. This year, preseason games have been divided into two separate tournaments—the Desert Friendlies and the Desert Diamond Cup.
The Desert Friendlies begin on Friday, when the Portland Timbers square off against the New York Red Bulls. In addition to those two teams, the Friendlies will also include Seattle Sounders FC. The event runs through February 4
The larger of the two events, the Desert Diamond Cup will feature a record six teams, as the Red Bulls will be joined by New York City FC, Colorado Rapids, Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution, and the Houston Dynamo. The Desert Diamond Cup will begin on Saturday, February 18 and conclude on February 25.
Portland’s February Showcase
In addition to their time in Tucson, the Timbers have some preseason action scheduled at their home pitch, as Providence Park will host several teams in February. Starting on February 9, the Timbers will host a preseason tournament that also features Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Real Salt Lake, and Minnesota United FC.
That slate not only features three of the MLS’ more notable teams in the West, but one of its latest clubs in Minnesota, as the United is joining the league this season as an expansion team. The event runs through February 15.
Carolina Challenge Cup
Several teams will head South in February, as the Charleston Battery welcome three MLS clubs for a preseason showcase. Starting on February 18, the USL franchise will be featured in a tournament that includes three MLS squads—Seattle, Columbus Crew SC, and the expansion Atlanta United FC.
The arrival of Atlanta will be of particular interest, as the Battery and United recently renewed their partnership for the 2017 season. Matches are also scheduled for February 22 and February 25.
Soccer in the Sunshine State
There are two preseason-related events to follow in Florida this year. The first is the schedule of Orlando City SC, which will be conducting workouts in Orlando while scheduling scrimmages in various locations around the state. The team has released its full schedule, which includes an MLS matchup against the Philadelphia Union at Joe DiMaggio Stadium in Clearwater on February 15.
Joe DiMaggio Stadium will also be featured in the Suncoast Invitational, a showcase hosted by the USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies from February 18-25. The first day of games at Al Lang Stadium will include a match between the Montreal Impact and D.C. United at 5:00 p.m, followed by a contest between the Rowdies and Union at 7:30.
Additional MLS clubs that will appear in the event include Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire.
Image courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies.
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