If practice makes perfect - if repetition is as crucial as it's usually portrayed - then perhaps tonight will end with the first rep in a routine we all hope they master: Gathering around a trophy, raising it gleefully, soaking each other in carbonated beverages, strategizing about dousing Frank and CJ with some electrolyte-bomb drink.
Clearly, it's not the most important 90 minutes of the season, and what it tells us about how the team will fare in 2014 will be questionable. Last year's Chicago squad won the Carolina Challenge Cup, but was clearly off the pace in terms of organization and fitness when the games began to count. How can a positive result in tonight's match be trusted? In short, it can't, not as a barometer of success or failure.
What it can tell us is how the staff sees the starting XI shaping up right now, and how the first group intends to play. It can tell us whether the talk of playing through midfield will evaporate like a wispy morning fog when this very energetic U20 group from Guadalajara starts pressing. It can tell us which starters are hurting, and which are ready for the season to start.
It won't tell us much, in all likelihood, about how Mike Magee fits into the team shape. Magee's first practice in Tucson came yesterday, and it sounds like Yallop gave him the "oh, you need fitness? We'll get you your fitness" practice plan, as he worked out twice. The head coach said they'd "see how [Magee] is feeling" today. Of course, a soft-tissue injury from fatigue would be a worst-case scenario for everyone, so it's likely any glimpse of Magee will be fleeting.
Deride the 2013 CCC all you want - at least it was a bit of fun. Winning beats the other thing. Let's all practice that beer shower tonight, then go have a 2014 full of them.
As always, comments required.* See you in them!