Colorado Rapids to face Real Salt Lake in Desert Diamond Cup Final

By Keave Tollington – Twitter: @KeaveT

With preseason drawing to a close and the start of 2015 MLS season just 8 days away, the next week is bound to be the busiest the clubs have experienced so far in the offseason. The Desert Diamond Cup comes to an end this weekend, allowing the five MLS teams involved to return back home before the opening weekend.

This Saturday sees the Colorado Rapids play Real Salt Lake in the Desert Diamond Cup Final. For the past 10 days, 6 teams (5 MLS as well as FC Tucson) have battled it out in what might be considered the climax of their preseason campaigns, competing for the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup.

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While it is still a title, it is only a small preseason tournament and most teams will now be looking forward to getting the real action started in just over a week.

The results so far:

February 18, 2015: Colorado Rapids 2–2 Sporting Kansas City

February 18, 2015: Real Salt Lake 1–0 New England Revolution

February 18, 2015: Seattle Sounders FC 6–0 FC Tucson

February 21, 2015: Colorado Rapids 1–1 New England Revolution

February 21, 2015: Real Salt Lake 3–1 FC Tucson

February 21, 2015: Seattle Sounders FC 2–3 Sporting Kansas City

February 25, 2015: Colorado Rapids 1–0 FC Tucson

February 25, 2015: New England Revolution 2–1 Seattle Sounders

February 25, 2015: Sporting Kansas City 1–2 Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake were successful in all 3 of their scrimmages, putting them in top position for a spot in the final. Colorado Rapids won just one of their games but were still able to progress through.

This final is especially unique because it is a warmup to the ‘Rocky Mountain Cup’ game between the sides in the regular season, a match considered to be a local derby between the two mountain states of Utah and Colorado. Preseason friendlies are often harder to predict than regular season matches because head coaches use these games as trial runs for potential signings and reserves.

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However Saturday’s final marks just 7 days until each team’s opening game and will be the last chance for management to make final tweaks and changes before the 2015 MLS campaign begins.

This time next week, the outcome of the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup will not matter a whole lot to any of the 5 MLS clubs who have taken part. However finishing off the preseason on a positive note will instil an aura of confidence among the players in time for the opening weekend.

Who will win the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson?

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Real Salt Lake receive double boost ahead of Desert Diamond Cup

By Keave Tollington

With the MLS preseason heading into its final stretch, the next few weeks will be crucial for every single player as they fight to impress in games where risks can afford to be taken.

Real Salt Lake headed down to Tucson today, boosted by the return of Luis Gil and Nick Rimando. Both joined up with the rest of the squad after spending the past month in Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp coming off two matches with the USMNT. Rimando played in both matches against Chile and Panama while Gil saw his second cap in a short appearance against Panama last Sunday.

The return of 2014 shutout star, Rimando, is expected to provide the boost that RSL need to continue their successful preseason campaign so far.

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This Wednesday (February 18th) sees the start of the annual Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona, involving FC Tucson and 5 MLS teams. Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution, Seattle Sounders, and Colorado Rapids all take part this year.

The tournament will last 10 Days with each team playing 4 games in total. The competition aims to boost excitement for the new season, which commences just 7 days after its completion.

So far this preseason, Real Salt Lake have managed to beat UC Irvine and OC Blues in California. In those games head coach Jeff Cassar had the opportunity to see how the new signings gelled with a long list of returning players.

With the Desert Diamond Cup he can do the same but against MLS clubs, giving the fans a more clear vision into just how prepared RSL are for the 2015 MLS campaign.

FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

These games are a bit more than just preseason friendlies for Cassar. It is not only an opportunity to win a trophy (however insignificant the title really is) but it’s also a pivotal time for him to see where play needs tweaking and he can allow the players to grasp new ideas before the start of the season.

Camp has been extremely positive for everyone at RSL so far and they meet 2014 MLS Cup runners-up, New England Revolution on Wednesday for a fixture that is likely to have more structure in terms of players than the two previous friendlies.

The Revs beat RSL 2-1 in a scrimmage game two weeks ago in both side’s first games of preseason but the meeting in the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday will be a lot more intense.

Real Salt Lake will now be moving into practicing more defined sets of plays, formations and starting lineups as the MLS season rapidly approaches.

Real Salt Lake’s upcoming friendlies:

Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution – Wednesday, February 18th

Real Salt Lake vs. FC Tucson – Saturday, February 21st

Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas – Wednesday, February 25th

Real Salt Lake vs. TBD – Saturday, February 28th

How will Real Salt Lake fare in 2015?