I'm gonna just say this: If we can't claim a single point in three matchups against this Philadelphia squad, then we just aren't a playoff team.
Of course, the earlier matchups came during a particularly moribund stretch of the season. Wells Thompson was playing right back. Dilly Duka still was wearing his spotted faun coat. Patrick Nyarko discovered that, at forward, once you beat everyone there's no one to pass to; isolated, he felt cold, cut off from the sun. It was a hard time.
(Tonight's soundtrack by Soul Coughing - songs almost certainly not suitable for playing in the van with your kids, unless they're unusually awesome.) (Ok, that was a joke. Don't write me, Tiger Mom.)
The seeds of the Fire's resurgence (to mediocrity! and beyond?) were planted then, though. Bakary Soumare helped shut us out twice while negotiating to join the team - talk about an effective tactic. And it was around then that Robbie Rogers began training with the Galaxy, setting the stage for the swap that brought Mike Magee home.
Tonight could unfold a lot of different ways: Cagey counter-punch battle? An early break opening the floodgates? Neither team values possession much, pushing the ball forward quickly on the break. The difference is how they get there - our Fire favor early through balls to any of the front four in space, while the Union pound away at your defensive line with a warhammer named Casey Conor.
To get a result this evening, the Fire must avoid the astonishing Union red-card jinx - Philly's opponents have finished a man down in six of the last nine games. SIX OF THE LAST NINE.
In the Fireside chat, I called a 3-1 Fire win, and I'm sticking with it. We can #dooooop this! Dale Fire!