For the European game, pre-season usually sits in a limbo land somewhere between showcasing fresh blood and dusting off the cobwebs. In the shape of the MLS however, well, they get major players together, head to the desert and smash through the fixtures, toe-to-toe. May we introduce you to the visual spectacle that is 'The Desert Diamond Cup'.
Held in Arizona and consisting of NYCFC, Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution, Colorado Rapids, Houston Dynamo, and the New York Red Bulls, it's a chance to do all of the above while taking the teams to uncharted territory in Tucson. The title of the annual event currently belongs to New England Revolution and while they'll be looking to defend the status, the rest of the field hasn't held back in giving headline players a chance to get a strong run out.
In typical MLS style, the format of the Desert Diamond Cup is fresh. For each match day, fans get to see three fixtures with one ticket, in one location ― it's a serious dosage of football for anyone who needed a quencher during the close season. Like any pre-season set up, results are naturally to be taken on the lighter side of seriousness though equally, they can point to the trajectory of the forthcoming season.
In the case of the DDC it's seen it's fare share of sights. David Villa has already been sent off as NYCFC sit bottom of the standings while Houston Dynamo top of the tree after their first two fixtures. Two more rounds of match ups to go, it's just getting started. For the full results and standings of the DDC, head here.
Meanwhile, outside of the tournament from Tim Howard to David Silva to Clint Dempsey, they're all out at it, bringing the pre-season party across the United States.
New kits, new faces and a hefty sign of support. In the shape of the Timbers army pre-season schedule, naturally there are flares that flag the sky. You can see a full run-down of MLS pre-season happenings here.
Photography by Grace Stufkosky