Your very first takeaway from the Fire's 4-2 beatdown of the Philadelphia Union Thursday afternoon is that it's not real. Preseason games exsist in a kind of weird alternate universe where performance isn't measured on the scoreboard or on the stat sheet like normal. The difference between 0-0 and 4-1 could be anything from playing against an XI of trialists, or a team playing at half speed, or a team concentrating on one specific aspect of the game to the detriment of all others. (An example of this is when a pitcher is throwing all curveballs and gives up 16 home runs in Spring Training. Reps with a curveball against live hitting is the point, not the score of the game.) Performances in preseason games should be taken with a grain of salt.
That being said, holy crap was this game fun to watch. And if we may fantasize about the coming year for a moment, The Fire look like a playoff team two games into the year. David Accam is nuts. We, as keen observers of Chicago Fire soccer, already knew this. There were times last year where he could take the game over by himself. His pace is a nightmare for defenders, and now, he's getting craftier with it too. The second goal that put the Fire up 2-1 was a perfect example of that.
Chicago Fire trialist John Goossens slid a perfectly weighted ball to Accam, who slowed down just a fraction. That, along with a a subtle head fake, was enough to put the trailing Union defender off his guard. And the next thing you know, like a Formula 1 car pulling away after an overtake, Accam is gone, and sliding the ball passed a diving Andre Blake in the Union net.
The second half was smiler to the first in a lot of ways. Accam was instrumental in the Fire's 3rd goal, who along with Gilberto, played a slick 1-2 onto goal. Blake was able to stop Accam this time, but second half substitute Nick LeBrocca was there to clean up the mess, and turned it home.
After a performance from the Men In Red, it's hard not to get your hopes up. Pauno has them playing a progressive, fluid style where everyone helps on the build up, but they van break when the opportunity strikes. The defense could use some work, but it seems like it's four new guys back there learning to work together and that will take time, something #cf97 fans know all to well.
I hope this is real, I dream that this is the Fire squad that we get on March 6th. But better with improvements that preseason progression is supposed to bring. Fire fans deserve this to be real.