The ridiculously short MLS offseason is now over, as squads are reporting to training camps today and the first preseason matches are set to start next week. As the season opens, here’s a look at some major 2018 MLS preseason events.
As noted, teams are beginning to report to preseason training camps this week. Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) reports today to a temporary UCLA training facility, for instance, while most clubs have players reporting to team training facilities. Today, Real Salt Lake opens training camp at the new Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman.
Spring training in baseball is a big deal; training camp in MLS is not, as fans aren’t expected to show up and watch practices at training facilities. But there is an abundance of preseason games to take in if you want an early dose of MLS soccer and an early whiff of those spring breezes in Florida and Arizona. Here are the major MLS and USL preseason events for 2018.
2018 Mobile Mini Sun Cup
The biggest 2018 MLS preseason event is the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, with 11 MLS squads and USL’s Phoenix Rising FC competing in Tucson and Phoenix. Held on February 3-24 and the successor to the Desert Diamond Cup, the matches feature Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, Portland Timbers, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting Kansas City. Three matches will be held at the Phoenix Rising FC complex, while the rest will be held at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, both at the North stadium and at the larger Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
2018 Carolina Challenge Cup
Three MLS teams – Columbus Crew, Atlanta United and Minnesota United – head to MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C. for the three-day 2018 Carolina Challenge Cup on Feb. 17-24. Two matches per day highlights the action, so a fan buying a season pass could see six games over the three days. You can view more information about the Challenge Cup here.
Oldsmar Sports Complex / Tampa Bay
New for 2018: New York Red Bulls will spend two weeks training at Oldsmar Sports Complex in the greater Tampa Bay area, hosting practices, scrimmages and preseason games with other MLS clubs at the site. They’ll join DC United and Philadelphia Union, training out of Clearwater, as MLS teams spending preseason time in Pinellas County and hosting matches both at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex in Clearwater and Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. In addition, Montreal Impact will spend part of the preseason in Florida, taking on the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium on Feb. 17 and New York Red Bulls in the same venue on Feb. 24. You can find the Tampa Bay match schedule on each of the team pages.
2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League
Five MLS teams (Toronto FC, Colorado Rapids, New York Bulls, Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas) are participating in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, with the first round scheduled for Feb. 20-22 and the second round between Feb. 27-March 1. That makes these preseason matches. Check out each team schedule for details. The schedule will make for some interesting cold-weather soccer: Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids will play a home and away series on Feb. 20 and Feb. 27. More information here.
Photo of Kino North stadium courtesy FC Tucson.
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