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Clubs head to Arizona to prep for season
by Ridge Mahoney, January 19th, 2010 7AM

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[MLS] A new soccer complex in Casa Grande, Ariz., will be hosting a few MLS teams next month as part of their preseason training if pending plans can be finalized.

Seattle, Colorado, Real Salt Lake, and possibly Los Angeles, as well as USL club Vancouver, will train at the "Casa Grande Performance Institute at the Francisco Grande" complex south of Phoenix. The multi-sports facility also has several football fields and other facilities. Ground was broken last June for the complex, which is being funded in part by bonds underwritten by the City of Casa Grande.

The Sounders would visit first, in early February, before it heads off to participate in the La Manga Cup in Spain. Vancouver, which will play in the merged NASL-USL operation before joining MLS next year, will follow and its visit will overlap with that of its Northwest rival Seattle.

Colorado and RSL will also be in Arizona at the same time though their dates are not yet confirmed, and the Galaxy's arrival will probably occur when at least two other teams are present.

Complex officials have also discussed visits with other MLS teams. Former MLS and U.S. defender Greg Vanney, who coaches youth ballin Arizona and worked Seattle TV broadcasts last season as a color commentator, is serving as liaison.

Seattle will compete in Group A of the La Manga Cup, starting with a Feb. 18 match against Dutch club SK Rosenborg. It will then play two more matches depending on results for its final placing in the eight-team event.

MLS Cup champion RSL previously confirmed it would return in March to the Carolina Challenge Cup, which it won last year by beating D.C. United, 3-0, Toronto FC and host Charleston (then in the USL) by 2-1 scores. The same four teams will play round-robin games against each other this year.


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