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A Preseason Viewing Primer For Fire Fans

Plus: details on how to watch the Carolina Challenge Cup

Los Angeles Galaxy v Chicago Fire Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The final leg of the preseason is upon us, and it’s the first time we’ll get a chance to see the Chicago Fire in action. If you’ve never seen a preseason soccer match before, the viewing experience will be a little different then a normal match, and so you shouldn’t watch it like one.

Don’t pay attention to the result. If you can, try to look at individual performances first, then look at how they play as a team. Because the score doesn’t matter all that much, there might be some experimental things on the field happening. If the season is the big test, than this tournament is the lab portion of the class. This is the time to make mistakes and get them all out of the way before it gets real on March 2nd.

2019 Carolina Challenge Cup: How To Watch

The Fire take on That Yellow Team at 4pm CT today. They’ll then face FC Cincinnati on Wednesday (2/20) at 6:30pm CT before finishing the preseason tournament against Charleston next Saturday (2/23) at 6:30pm CT.

All games will stream live and for free on the Charleston Battery’s website.

What to Watch For

Communication

One fascinating thing about preseason soccer is that the stadiums are usually quieter than normal, which means we can hear how the players talk to each other. This is something we don’t usually get to hear, and it’s always interesting to hear what’s being communicated and how it’s being done. If you have a really good ear, you can even tell who is doing the communicating.

Shape

Pay attention to how the Fire are positioning themselves. It won’t be exactly how the Fire will play during the season— there’s no point in showing all your cards before the season begins. But you’ll be able to get a general sense on how they plan on playing. You’ll see what formation they may be playing and how they’ll play it. You can see how aggressive their press is when they don’t have the ball.

Style

Look at how they pass the ball, and what the player does after passing it. Do they make a sharp cut to try to shake a defender? Are they playing passively, looking for just the right moment to slice through the defense? Are the outside backs pushing forward into the attack?

On defense, look at how they mark on set pieces and corners. Look at how deep the back four are playing. How high up are they picking up their marks? Watch for who is picking up who, and where. See if you can spot traps or players clogging up passing lanes.

And finally— don’t worry about anything, and don’t get too excited. Preseason is a time to get match fit and work on stuff. It’s about process. Don’t get too high or too low. Enjoy the games. Soccer is back, ya’ll.