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Texas four-step preps MLS teams
by Ridge Mahoney, March 5th, 2008 8:45AM

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Major League Soccer may never set up shop in San Antonio, but for the next week, four league teams will spread the word while training and playing a round-robin mini-tournament that suits their various preseason needs.

Steele Stadium in nearby Cibolo will host doubleheaders in the Texas Pro Soccer Festival (presented by Touch-Tel) Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The teams will train at Soccer International (formerly the Pepsi Center complex) in Schertz, with the players and coaches slated for personal appearances and clinics in the area.

The field is comprised of two-time defending champion Houston, four-time MLS Cup winner D.C. United, Western Conference champion Chivas USA, and last year's expansion team, Toronto FC.

In addition to further honing their play as the regular-season approaches, each team has specific objectives. Houston and D.C. United are using the games as final tune-ups for their CONCACAF Champions' Cup quarterfinals later this month.

Chivas USA, the 2007 Western Conference champion, is integrating a few new attacking elements and is embarking on a second season for Coach Preki, who was the league's Coach of the Year in 2007.

After winning only six of 30 games in its inaugural season, TFC is rebuilding not only its roster, but its structure as well, with John Carver taking over as head coach and Mo Johnston moving into a role as manager/director of soccer.

"Preseason is always important," says Preki. "We had a good season last year but we fell short and we need to have more depth this year because we will playing in a lot of games."

Several players will miss the tournament to train with the U.S. under-23 team as it prepares for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, so plenty of bodies will be needed to play three games in five days.

Stuart Holden and Pat Ianni (Houston), Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC), and Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA) are occupied elsewhere.

"Yeah, that should be an interesting event," said Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear, whose team split two games at the Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii last month and Tuesday claimed forward Kyle Brown off waivers.

Last week, it signed 20-year-old Argentine striker Franco Caraccio.

"We have to get ready for CONCACAF and that's our priority but those three games will give players some good competition."

Texas Pro Soccer Festival (all times Central)
Wednesday - Houston vs. Toronto FC, 6 p.m.; followed by D.C. United vs. Chivas USA.
Friday - Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 6 p.m.; followed by Chivas USA vs. Houston.
Sunday - Houston vs. D.C. United, 12:30 p.m.; followed by Chivas USA vs. Toronto FC.



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