If the Ave Maria stretch of the Chicago Fire's preseason was about fitness and team-building, the Bradenton days are dedicated to something else entirely: The Men in Red are learning to play Frank Yallop's way - which means they're working on shape, and responsibilities, and spacing, and how those relate to common sequences of play. Our first evidence of this labor will come this evening, at 6 p.m. CST, when the Fire take on D.C. United in what promises to be the first first-team friendly of the year.
The Fire, in cooperation with MLSSoccer.com, are hosting a livestream of the game from Bradenton - WATCH IT BELOW at 6 p.m.
As always, feel free to treat the comments as the livethread for this preseason scrimmage. I'll be commenting with an eye toward sussing out the basic building-blocks of the Fire's tactical approach for 2014: How high are they pressing? How high does the backline step to compress play? And, of course, because everything starts with the players, who starts?
Mike Magee won't be available for this one, as he's been released from the squad in advance of Monday's Comcast SportsNet Awards; it's not like he has a tremendous amount to prove in the preseason, in any case. The list of players available was included in Jeff Crandall's tremendous 5 Things match preview.
Goalkeepers (3): Sean Johnson, Alec Kann, Kyle Reynish
Defenders (8): Austin Berry, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Hunter Jumper, Steven Kinney, Lovel Palmer, Gonzalo Segares, Bakary Soumare
Midfielders (11): Yazid Atouba, Dilly Duka, Benji Joya, Brendan King, Jeff Larentowicz, Alex, Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause, Victor Pineda, Chris Ritter, Harry Shipp
Forwards (5): Quincy Amarikwa, Juan Luis Anangono, Giuseppe Gentile, Kellen Gulley, Chris Rolfe
Un-Signed Draft Picks (2)
Bryan Ciesiulka (midfielder), Marco Franco (defender)
Guest Players (7)
Freddie Braun (midfielder), David Meves (goalkeeper), Parker Walsh (defender), Tim Ward (defender), Grant Ward (defender/midfielder), Andrae Campbell (defender), Daniel Jackson (forward)