Being back in your old neck of the woods, or in this case saguaros, can have its distractions.
New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, a former Tucson Soccer Academy and Sierra Vista Buena High School star, is enjoying his return to Tucson, but he's not about to let it get in the way of his battle for the No. 1 spot.
New York will face the New England Revolution in the second match of tonight's Desert Diamond Cup doubleheader at Kino Stadium.
"It is nice to be back in Southern Arizona," Robles said after a Red Bulls practice Friday. "But the focus is on the main reason we're here, and that's training camp.
"Sierra Vista's only an hour away, so my family and my friends can stop by, but they also know that my priority is to make sure that I'm fit and in good shape to help the team."
Plus, he's got a job to win.
Robles made four regular-season starts and was in goal for New York's two playoff matches after joining the team in August.
Ryan Meara, who started 18 games for New York in 2012, is still recovering from hip surgery.
Red Bulls coach Mike Petke isn't going to straight out say it but you can easily read between the lines that Robles will be between the posts come the March 3 opener at Portland.
"I'm not ready to put a starting tag on anybody, but if you can do the math, you can obviously see some positions that we have, goalie included, who's there," Petke said. "Luis is doing very well."
Sounders to take on Mexican club at Kino
Seattle Sounders FC will play a preseason friendly against Mexican second-division club Veracruz on Friday at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5 at 7 p.m.
Veracruz, nicknamed the Tiburones Rojos or Red Sharks, is currently second in the Ascenso MX. It played in Mexico's top division as recently as 2007-08.
The match will help Sounders FC prepare for a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Mexican top division leader Tigres in March.
• What: Desert Diamond Cup
• Who: Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake, 4 p.m.; New York vs. New England, 6 p.m.
• Where: Kino Stadium