Fresno Fuego F.C. kicked off its preseason training Tuesday evening, nearly a month ahead of schedule, to prepare for its two Major League Soccer exhibitions in February.
On Feb. 13, the Fuego will play a combo of the L.A. Galaxy's reserves and USL Pro teams.
On Feb. 15, the Fresno club will host the San Jose Earthquakes reserves team before the two MLS sides square off in the Central California Cup at Chukchansi Park that evening.
Coach Scott Alcorn was impressed after the team's first full training session.
"It's better than expected. The guys are in better shape than we anticipated," he said.
Alcorn admits that playing teams from two MLS franchises has given his players "more hop in their step."
"They're excited because they know it's a great opportunity to make it to the next level," he said. "There's two things I tell these guys: You hope that you get good exposure, that's what you want out of this. The opposite of that is to get exposed, and that's what we don't want."
There are 38 players on the preseason roster, including 10 returning alumni who will play with the Fuego for the exhibitions, general manager Jeremy Schultz said. Following the friendlies that number is expected to dwindle to about 20 for the Premier Development League season.
--In the first 10 minutes after tickets went on sale Jan. 13 for the Central California Cup, all VIP tickets were sold out, Schultz said.
"It's unlike anything I've ever seen before," he said.
As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, Fuego spokesman Ryan Young said 6,500 tickets had been sold for Los Angeles-San Jose exhibition, leaving just over 6,000 tickets left.
--Galaxy and Earthquakes fans will see some of their favorite stars in action before the Fresno friendly, as the United States men's national team hosts Korea Republic on Saturday at the Stubhub Center in Carson.
The Galaxy's Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez and the Earthquakes' Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson are on the USMNT's 22-man roster and are training in Brazil to prepare for the FIFA World Cup. The training camp ends with the World Cup tune-up against Korea Republic. The 2 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN2, WatchEspn.com and in Spanish on UniMas.
--On Sunday, fans can see a new exhibit opening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Fútbol: The Beautiful Game" opens Super Bowl Sunday and runs through July 20, a week after the World Cup final. The exhibit examines the game and its significance in societies around the world.
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