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Sounders FC News & Notes

February 18, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle Sounders FC will open its fifth season of Major League Soccer in 12 days. But before the songs and chants of supporters at CenturyLink Field, the Rave Green will play three more preseason matches in Arizona, culminating with the 2013 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup final on Saturday.

Sounders FC rolled to victories last week in its opening matches of the Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament against New England and Real Salt Lake, highlighted by beautiful strikes from Eddie Johnson and Mario Martinez. Seattle has already clinched a spot in the championship game with one group stage match remaining.

The final matches of the group stage will be played Wednesday evening at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. New England and Real Salt Lake will face off in the early game with Seattle taking on the New York Red Bulls in the late match. Kickoff for Seattle's match is set for 6 p.m. PT (7 p.m. local) and will be streamed live on SoundersFC.com.

Before the team plays in the final, head coach Sigi Schmid will prepare his squad for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against UANL Tigres with a friendly on Friday evening versus Veracruz. Kickoff for the friendly is 6 p.m. PT (7 p.m. local) at Kino Sports Complex North Field #5 and admission is free. There will be a live blog of the match on SoundersFC.com.

Saturday's Cup final will be broadcast nationwide on NBC Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 5 p.m. PT (6 p.m. local) at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. Seattle will learn its opponent following Wednesday's games.

Fans can purchase tickets to the Desert Diamond Cup by visiting www.FCTucson.ticketsocket.com .

Sounders FC will return to Seattle on February 24, just one week before the season opener against the Montreal Impact on March 2 at CenturyLink Field. The two-leg Champions League series against UANL Tigres will kick off on March 6 in Monterrey and conclude in Seattle on March 12.

Sounders FC Competition Schedule (all times Pacific; subject to change)

Wednesday, February 20 - Desert Diamond Cup: Sounders FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 6 p.m. kickoff, Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

Friday, February 22 - Desert Diamond Friendlies: Sounders FC vs. Veracruz, 6 p.m. kickoff, Kino Sports Complex North Field #5, Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday, February 23 - Desert Diamond Cup Final: Sounders FC vs. TBD, 5 p.m. kickoff, Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday, March 2 - MLS First Kick: Sounders FC vs. Montreal Impact, 7:30 p.m. kickoff, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Wednesday, March 6 - CONCACAF Champions League: Sounders FC at UANL Tigres, 7 p.m. kickoff, Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, Mexico (leg one)

Tuesday, March 12 - CONCACAF Champions League: Sounders FC vs. UANL Tigres, 7 p.m. kickoff, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle (leg two)

Join for 2013

Sounders FC season tickets are now available. To select seats, fans may visit www.SoundersFC.com or call 877-MLS-GOAL (877-657-4625).

Single-match tickets are also on sale now. Tickets are available through www.SoundersFC.com, all Ticketmaster Outlets, CenturyLink Field Box Office or by calling 800-745-3000. Ticket availability on a match-by-match basis is limited.

Tickets for the Seattle Sounders FC versus Tigres UANL match on March 12 are available by phone at 800-745-3000 or www.SoundersFC.com .

Desert Diamond Cup Update

With two wins to start the tournament, Sounders FC has already qualified for the Desert Diamond Cup final. Seattle won its opening match, 2-0, against the New England Revolution last Wednesday as Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson returned from national team duty to net Seattle's goals. On Saturday, second-half goals from Mario Martinez and Philip Lund propelled Sounders FC past Real Salt Lake, 2-1, clinching a spot in the championship game on Saturday, February 23. Seattle is the only team out of the group that did not participate in the tournament last year.

Standings

Team Record (points) Goal Differential (GF/GA)

Seattle Sounders FC 2-0-0 (6 points) +3 (4/1)

New England Revolution 1-1-0 (3 points) 0 (3/3)

New York Red Bulls 0-1-1 (1 point) -2 (3/5)

Real Salt Lake 0-1-1 (1 point) -1 (3/4)

Schedule

Wednesday, February 20

Game 1: Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution - 4 p.m. PT (5 p.m. local)

Game 2: Seattle Sounders FC vs. New York Red Bulls - 6 p.m. PT (7 p.m. local)

Saturday, February 23

Game 1: 3rd Place vs. 4th Place - 3 p.m. PT (4 p.m. local)

Game 2: Sounders FC vs. 2nd Place - 5 p.m. PT (6 p.m. local)

DDC of Years Past

In the 2012 Desert Diamond Cup, the New England Revolution won all three group stage matches before falling to the LA Galaxy in a penalty shootout following a scoreless draw in the final. The Revs scored seven group stage goals and allowed just three, and the Red Bulls and RSL scored just twice over the four matches.

The inaugural Desert Diamond Cup in 2011 featured two MLS clubs and two lower-level U.S. soccer sides (FC Tucson and Arizona Sahuaros). Both New York and Sporting Kansas City reached the final, with Kansas City winning on goal differential following a 2-2 draw in the final. Sporting led the group with eight goals scored and three goals allowed in the tournament.

2012 Final

New England Revolution 0 vs. LA Galaxy 0 (LA won 4-2 on penalties)

2011 Final

New York Red Bulls 2 vs. Sporting Kansas City 2 (KC won on goal differential)

Three in Four

The pace will pick up for Sounders FC this week as the club enters its match heavy portion of preseason training with three games in a four-day span. In Wednesday's match against New York, head coach Sigi Schmid plans to use a reserve lineup as he expects starters to go 90 minutes on Friday against Veracruz in preparation for the CONCACAF Champions League series against Tigres. The busy stretch will conclude on Saturday evening on national television as Sounders FC will play in the Cup final.

A Wide Audience

With an appearance in the Desert Diamond Cup final already set, Sounders FC has added another national television match to its schedule as NBC Sports will cover the game. Seattle has 13 MLS regular season matches on national television, plus an additional two Champions League games, bringing the season total to 16.

Getting Defensive

One constant for Sounders FC over it first four seasons in MLS has been a stingy defense, and 2013 will likely follow suit. Seattle had not allowed a goal in the first 176 minutes of the Desert Diamond Cup, and the starting center back combination is yet to allow a goal, including the Portland friendly earlier this month. Seattle's top goalkeepers, Michael Gspurning and Marcus Hahnemann, did not allow a goal in over four halves of preseason play.

National Contributions

National team duty is paying dividends for Sounders FC as its four internationals have already accounted for much of Seattle's offensive production. In the first match of the Desert Diamond Cup, U.S. national team players Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson scored both goals in their first game back with the team, with Swedish international Adam Johansson assisting on Johnson's strike. Three days later, Mario Martinez returned from Honduras and scored in his first preseason game, rocketing a left-footed shot inside the far post from 20-yards out.

Steady Starters

With less than two weeks remaining until the season opener, head coach Sigi Schmid has already found some consistency in his Starting XI. Schmid made just one change to his starting group from Wednesday to Saturday, inserting Zach Scott in the backline for Djimi Traore. A similar starting group is expected to play one more full match together before the season opener when the team faces Veracruz on Friday, though Schmid will continue to tinker with the group as Mario Martinez rejoined the team and Patrick Ianni returns from injury.

Players who started first two DDC Matches

Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani; David Estrada, Eddie Johnson.

Happy Birthday, Mauro

February 24 not only marks Mauro Rosales' 32nd birthday, but it is also the two year anniversary of his first training session with Sounders FC. On February 24, 2011, Rosales met the team for the first time in Bradenton, Florida. As the players sang him Happy Birthday, none knew the production he would add to the club and league. Now the team's captain, Rosales has set the club record for assists (13) each of the last two seasons, and he was named MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2011.

About New York Red Bulls

New York finished third in the Eastern Conference in 2012 with 57 points (16-9-9), but has a new coach this season in Mike Petke. RBNY is 0-1-1 in the Desert Diamond Cup after a 2-2 draw with Salt Lake and a 3-1 loss to New England. Two of their three goals in the tournament have been scored by high-profile off-season acquisitions-Jamison Olave, who they traded for from Salt Lake, and Juninho, who they signed in December. Thierry Henry (15 goals, 12 assists in 2012) and Tim Cahill (one goal, three assists in 12 games) return for New York, but they did lose leading-scorer Kenny Cooper in a trade with Dallas.

About Veracruz

Veracruz plays in the Ascenso MX, the second tier of pro soccer in Mexico. They currently sit fourth in the Clausura with 12 points (3-1-3) after starting 3-0-1, including recent wins over Dorados de Sinaloa, La Piedad, and UAG. The Tiburones Rojos most recently fell, 3-0, on the road against Atlamira. Veracruz finished 12th in the 2012 Apertura with 14 points (3-6-5). Pablo Gabriel Torres and Yutu Ono lead the team with two goals apiece in the 2013 Clausura, while Alejandro Castillo, Jose Lopez Monroy, and Rafael Medina RodrÃ-guez have each added one.

CCL Update: Tigres Stays Atop the League

UANL Tigres, Seattle's opponent in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals in March, have started the Clausura in Liga MX with five wins and two draws through the first seven matches. The only undefeated team in Mexico, Tigres sits atop the table with 17 points and a plus-11 goal differential. The team is a perfect 3-0 away from home, and most recently held on to a 1-1 draw against Santos Laguna. Tigres will play three more league matches before the March 6 meeting with Seattle, and they will also play league matches on March 9 and March 16.

Tigres is led by a pair of Argentine footballers. Forward Emanuel Villa leads the league with seven goals this season. Villa, 30, previously played at Estudiantes Tecos with Sounders FC forward Sammy Ochoa. Tigres features three American players in midfielders Jonathan Bornstein, Francisco Torres and Victor Garza.

Sounders FC Announces Free Admission to Veracruz Match

The Seattle Sounders FC, in partnership with FC Tucson, Pima County and the Desert Diamond Cup sponsors, announced today there will be free admission to Friday's match against Veracruz.

Sounders FC will face Mexican second division side Veracruz on Friday at 6 p.m. PT (7 p.m. local) at North Field #5 at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. Tickets will be made available through FC Tucson's radio broadcast partners, ESPN Deportes (990 AM) and sister station La Caliente (102.1 FM), and at the FC Tucson box office at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily starting Tuesday, February 19, while supplies last.

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