This is the doldrums of the offseason - hard to dispute that fact. It's an international break, and the USA plays a couple of ho-hum friendlies. MLS playoffs are on hiatus during these massively important encounters. And in Fire-land, we're still awaiting news on the first decisions of the Frank Yallop Era, with players unsure of their status and no further staff news of note.
I'm sorry - make that the second decisions of the Frank Yallop Era - he did fire some folks.
The good news is that, if you're one of the fortunates who plan to travel with the team in preseason, you can begin making travel plans. In a break from past tradition, the Fire - instead of spending the preseason along the east coast, playing in Florida and the Carolina Challenge Cup - are going to spend the latter half of February 2014 in the Arizona desert. CF97 announced today that they are among the six teams vying for the preseason FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, joining MLS clubs from Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution and Chivas USA. The tournament, hosted by USL-Pro club FC Tucson, begins play on Feb. 19; each team will play four games in a Wednesday-Saturday schedule, culminating in a final on March 1.
The complete schedule (which is, of course, still subject to change) follows; all times are CST.
2014 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 (North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex)
Chivas USA vs. FC Tucson, 2:00 p.m.
Colorado Rapids vs. Chicago Fire, 4:30 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 22, 2014 (North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex)
FC Tucson vs. Colorado Rapids, 2:00 p.m.
Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake, 4:30 p.m.
New England Revolution vs. Chivas USA, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 (North Stadium at Kino Sports Complex)
Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire, 2:00 p.m.
New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, 4:30 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Tucson, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 1, 2014 (Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium)
5th Place vs. 6th Place, 3:30 p.m.
3rd Place vs. 4th Place, 6:00 p.m.
1st Place vs. 2nd Place, 8:30 p.m.