There's a short ritual every soccer fan needs to master during preseason, and it goes a little something like this -emptying one's consciousness of everything save a spark of will, speak the truth which competitive games will make clear: "It's only preseason."
Your favored XI comes out looking polished, their movement and passing immaculate? "It's only preseason." They win every preseason game they kick off? "It's only preseason." A team of amateurs is surprisingly tough to break down? "It's only preseason." Everyone looks bored? "It's only preseason."
Have I mentioned it's only preseason?
The Chicago Fire parleyed a follow-up header from Alex and a brilliant side-volley from Bakary Soumare into a 2-0 win over FC Tucson Saturday in Arizona. It's only preseason.
The win, the club's sixth in six starts this preseason, was deserved but hardly dominating. Tucson's collection of unpaid lower-league hopefuls played creditably throughout, creating a few half-chances and one golden opportunity in the sixth minute which called upon Sean Johnson to save. The Fire's central midfield of Chris Rolfe, Alex and Jeff Larentowicz couldn't find the fluidity and small touches to control the center of the pitch, which performance stood in contrast to the superior outing from the second string against Colorado three days earlier. However, recent studies have indicated that it is, in fact, only preseason.
The defense, while not exuding an aura of deep, abiding interest in the contest, did continue their string of solid performances. Particularly revealing was another solid outing from Soumare, who spent much of last season looking like a candidate for bamboozlement. When he plays well, the Malian has a swashbuckling edge to his game, and his willingness to surge forward when given space was rewarded with the best goal of the day. Patrick Nyarko's dipping cross made it all the way to the left side of the box, where Soumare lashed a technically-challenging side volley that skidded past the FCT keeper and into the far side-netting. At 2-0 up against an amateur side, the game was effectively over as a contest. 10 out of 10 doctors surveyed agree: It's only preseason.
The Fire will face a much sterner test Wednesday, when they play New England Revolution in a battle for the just-invented-by-me 4-1-4-1 Cup. Kickoff is slated for 4:30 p.m. CST.
Chicago Fire 2 - 0 FC Tucson
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer; Patrick Ianni, Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares; Patrick Nyarko, Alex, Jeff Larentowicz ©, Dilly Duka; Chris Rolfe; Juan Luis Anangono
Subs not used: Kyle Reynish, Parker Walsh^, Marco Franco*, Yazid Atouba, Steven Kinney, Giuseppe Gentile, Harry Shipp, Benji Joya, Victor Pineda, Quincy Amarikwa
* - 2014 MLS SuperDraft Pick
^- Guest Player
FC Tucson: Victor Rodriguez; Sam Duininck (Travis Campbell 46'), Kareem Smith (Greg Carter 46'), Edgar Reyna (Nick Hamer 46'), Obed Rincon (Saeed Robinson 46'); Peter Kelly (Gabe Silveira 46'), Carlos Montes (Zach Bolden 46'), Ryan Gracia (Jason Romero 46'), Andres Acosta (Elijah Galbraith-Knapp 46'), Martino Rapella (Josh Phillips 46'); Dan Anoniuk (Anthony Salticcia 46') (Reid Smith 70')
CHI - Alex (unassisted) 19'
CHI - Bakary Soumare (Patrick Nyarko) 43'