Can you believe we are less than a month away from the 2017 MLS Preseason and the Desert Diamond Cup? It’s always an exciting time for the fans because it gives us a chance to see which players to keep an eye on before the real deal begins.
This years is the 6th anniversary of the Desert Diamond Cup tournament, founded in 2011. In that first year, only two Major League Soccer teams participated in the tournament: Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls. This year, there are six teams competing, including the Rapids.
2016 MLS Desert Cup Recap
Last year, the only team that the Rapids were familiar with was Sporting Kansas City. In the 2016 MLS Desert Cup tournament, the Colorado Rapids played SKC on February 24, 2016, and lost 4-1.
The Rapids finished in 5th place in the preseason tournament with a 1-1-2 record. Their sole win was against Arizona United FC for a final score of 3-0. The Rapids lost to the Swope Park Rangers, and Sporting Kansas City. The Colorado side also faced the Houston Dynamo and finished with a scoreless tie.
There weren't many Rapids players who stood out in the tournament, but the ones who did were Dominique Badji, Zach Pfeffer, Kevin Doyle, and Shkelzen Gashi. The tournament was a time for the players to get a feel for each other and to develop some chemistry before the regular season began. There may have been some fans who looked at the Rapids performance in the Desert Diamond Cup tournament as how they will perform in the regular season, but that is only because of previous seasons where the Rapids started off slow, and stayed cold throughout the entirety of the season. Following the preseason tournament, the Rapids started the year with a 6-2-2 record in the first ten games of the 2016 regular season.
Sporting Kansas City and the New England Revolution could provide a good test for the Colorado Rapids in Diamond Desert Cup. Last year, Sporting Kansas City finished with a 1-3-0 record and tied Houston Dynamo for third place overall in the tournament. In the regular MLS season, SKC qualified for the playoffs with a 13-13-8 record and were eliminated by the Seattle Sounders in the first round.
The New England Revolution will be making their sixth consecutive appearance in the preseason tournament. Last year, the Revolution rode a 2-2-0 record into the championship game against the Swope Park Rangers, and defeated the Rangers 1-0 to claim the Desert Cup. The defending Desert Diamond Cup champions will look to assert themselves early on in the tournament, and the Rapids will have to be ready for that. Despite winning the preseason tournament, their regular season finish the season was disappointing, coming in 7th in the Eastern conference with a 11-14-9 record and barely missing the playoffs.
This will be the first time New York City FC will be making an appearance in this preseason tournament. Other teams competing in the preseason tournament include the New York Red Bulls, and the Houston Dynamo.
When it comes to players to watch for the upcoming tournament, keep an eye on the recent players that the Rapids choose in the 2017 SuperDraft: Sam Hamilton, Liam Callahan, Jaime Siaj, and Peguy Ngatcha.
Here is the Colorado Rapids schedule for preseason in Tucson:
2/15/2017: Sporting Kansas City vs Colorado Rapids - 11 am
2/18/2017: New England Revolution vs Colorado Rapids - 1 pm
2/22/2017: New York City FC vs Colorado Rapids - 11 am
2/25/2017: Colorado Rapids vs. TBD - TBD
To reserve tickets to go and support the Rapids in the Desert Diamond Cup, you can visit the website HERE, call 520-334-1115, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.