SEATTLE SOUNDERS AND REAL SALT LAKE HEADLINE THE FACILITY’S PREMIER SEASON
CASA GRANDE, Arizona (February 4, 2010) With the arrival yesterday of current U.S. Open Cup soccer champions Seattle Sounders, Casa Grande grabs the limelight for the first time as one of the sport’s premier training destinations. When they take the field for their first round of practice this morning, the Sounders will officially introduce Grande Sports World as the newest, finest, and most all-inclusive soccer training campus in the United States.
February will be a whirlwind inaugural month for Grande Sports World, as no sooner do the Seattle Sounders complete their training and depart the facility’s host city of Casa Grande than current MLS Cup Champions Real Salt Lake arrives to take their place. Grande Sports World is directly adjacent to Arizona’s legendary Francisco Grande Hotel & Golf Resort, where coaches, players and their families can relax, swim, dine, play championship golf and bond as a team.
Real Salt Lake roars into its pre-season training at Grande Sports World after last year’s dream play-off run that saw them catapult from being a bottom seed to defeat both the former MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew and an outstanding Chicago Fire team—in Chicago—to reach the MLS Cup final.
In the championship match against a star-studded L.A. Galaxy team—at Qwest Field in Seattle—Real Salt Lake faced the likes of David Beckham and Landon Donovan before capturing the title in a shootout, following regulation and overtime.
The Seattle Sounders will train at Grande Sports World through Thursday, February 11th before turning the spotlight over to Real Salt Lake—who arrive in Casa Grande on Saturday, February 13th and depart on February 27th.
The Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids will also be training at Grande Sports World in February, with the Whitecaps arriving on Tuesday, February 9th and the Rapids on Sunday, February 21st.
“To have four teams of such stature in Major League Soccer opt into using Grande Sports World during its premier season provides ample evidence of just how amazing this new facility is,” says Greg Vanney, former MLS and US National Team player and Grande Sports World’s Director of Soccer.
“Soccer being the #1 spectator sport in the world—and the fastest growing sport in the United States—to have the best teams in America choose Grande Sports World as their preferred training site from day one is a huge tribute to the quality of the facility and to the commitment the Casa Grande community has made in partnering with us.”
When asked why Grande Sports World so quickly became a favorite of soccer’s most elite coaches and teams, Vanney describes a training facility like no other.
“Grande Sports World is an all-inclusive, state-of-the-art facility where everything you need to train successfully is all in one place,” Vanney says. “Coaches can arrive with their teams knowing their total focus can remain on their games without having to worry about the logistics of transporting players from place to place for meals, lodging and other daily necessities. As the facility is directly adjacent to Francisco Grande Hotel & Golf Resort, Grande Sports World is the only state-of-the-art facility of its type where players can live, work, train and bond as a team all in one place.”
For those already swept-up in the popular growth of Major League Soccer in the U.S, the swift rise of the Seattle Sounders is a Cinderella story like no other. In just their first season in the league, the Sounders hoisted one of the sports most coveted trophies before a packed house at Qwest Field in Seattle, also home to the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL.
Throughout the 2009 season, the Sounders sold out every home game, averaging over 31,000 spectators per game. For 2010, virtually every seat has been sold, even as season ticket availabilities were increased to accommodate 32,000 per game. Meanwhile, the stadium is being expanded to accommodate up to 38,000 per game.
The Sounders are coached by American soccer icon two-time Major League Soccer Championship coach, Sigi Schmid. Pivotal players for the Sounders include U.S. National team standout goalkeeper, Kasey Keller, former Swedish International and Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg; and MLS Newcomer of the Year Freddy Montero from Columbia. The balance of the playing roster is impressive as well, with multiple MLS Cup champions and MLS All-stars—including Arizona native Brad Evans—taking the field as well.
Real Salt Lake begins its pre-season at Grande Sports World hungry for a repeat of last season’s successes. Under the guidance of head coach Jason Kreis and his staff, Real Salt Lake has gone from worst to first in just two years. Key players include Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Javier Morales and Arizona native and current National Team player Robbie Finley.
The Vancouver Whitecaps are two-time USL Champions—in 2006, and again in 2008—as well as North American Soccer League Champions in 1979. Led by European coach Teitur Thordarson and former D.C. Untied Coach Tom Soehn as the teams Technical Director, the Whitecaps will play the 2010 season in the new U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2 League in the NASL Division. In 2011 they will enter Major League Soccer as an expansion team along with their current Division 2 rivals Portland Timbers.
Following the departure of Vancouver, the Colorado Rapids—led by Head Coach Gary Smith—will arrive in Casa Grande. Key players for the team include former U.S. National Team standout and Arizona native Pablo Mastroeni, current U.S. National Team forward Connor Casey; and Jamaican International and one of MLS’s top scorers in 2009, Omar Cummings.
Additional events at Grande Sports World for the month of February include a Coaching Education Clinic on Friday, February 19th; and a Players Clinic on Saturday, February 20th. Both are being hosted by Greg Vanney and the Real Salt Lake coaching staff in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of Casa Grande.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
DIRECTOR OF SOCCER
PHONE: (520) 381-8284