Chicago kept the preseason run going this week with two strong showings against lower division sides Miami and Cincinnati. The Fire have a very convincing frontline with de Leeuw, Nicolic, Alvarez, and Accam combining well up top. However, the big difference this season is the tactical identity that Pauno seems to be setting up. With two of the leagues top defensive midfielders, Juninho and McCarty, Chicago seems to want control of the ball and to clog up the midfield. In addition we have been seeing a high press which has been done especially well by de Leeuw but it is the whole team managing to move together and create pressure on the opposing backline.

It is exciting to finally have an identity and it is a little bonus that this identity is a high press, high excitement one. So what is good and bad about this tactical choice? I am actually a huge fan of the high press, it allows any team that does this properly to score goals and get into a game even if they are outmatched. The high press means goals and it means exciting seasons ahead. Why could this backfire? It has not happened too much yet but if the team is not on the same page and press individually it will just tire us out without being effective. Lets look for conditioning and team chemistry to make this one work.

Then there is also the midfield clog with two defensive minded midfielders. On top of this, Pauno seems to want in swinging wingers who can help in the creative midfield role. Players like Accam, Johnson, Alvarez, and Goossens are all very clever in helping clog this center of the pitch by cutting inside from the wing. What’s this mean? It means possession!!! Look for Chicago’s possession numbers to skyrocket this season and for Chicago to pass the ball out of the back instead of sending that notorious long ball. The big negative here is the obvious lack of wing play. A team with dangerous wingers or overlapping wing backs could give Chicago some trouble.

Toronto preview: Toronto is a team that does have there best players in the center of the field and even likes to throw out a three man defense. Up top Toronto has Altidore and Giovinco with Bradley holding the midfield, all play centrally. This is a good test to swing the positives of Chicago’s tactical look. We shouldn’t be seeing any overlapping wingers and the game should be a battle for the central midfield. It will be a good test for Chicago to stay true to their tactics and test their identity against a first division team.

Notes:

-English defender Ryan Taylor and former Crew SC man Chad Barson have both joined the roster as trialists.

-International spot trading price seems to currently be $75,000.

-David Accam seems to be hinting at his last season in Chicago, wants to go out on a high note.

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