1. RSL coach Jeff Cassar's talked several times about how much you've improved. RSL general manager Craig Waibel had similarly positive things to say. What say you? Are you actually that much better than you have been?
The Fire's starting XI is much stronger than the talent assembled the last few years - a decent spine that suffered together in 2016 (David Accam, Michael de Leeuw, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent) supplemented by air-lifting in a central midfield (Juninho & Dax McCarty) that immediately challenges to be the best in MLS and signing a striker (Nemanja Nikolic) who's in the habit of winning scoring titles. The huge influx of talent and experience means the Men in Red are obviously, visibly more comfortable in every phase of the game. Yes, they're much better, better at this point in the year than (in my memory, at least) even the '09 team that fell in the Eastern semis.
Now, past the starters, the roster gets real inexperienced, real fast - especially now that we know John Goossens will be out a minimum of five months after ankle surgery. Any further injuries will mean playing completely untested draftees or Homegrowns.
2. We both drew last week. Do you think we'll draw again?
I really don't, barring an act of Rimando. Any draws will have to be of the high-flying 4-4 variety, and that kind of game would end without a result when Dax murders his teammates on the field and bathes in their blood, screaming skyward all the while.
3. What's your weakest point in the defense? I'm definitely not asking as a scouting effort. Definitely.
It's not a secret - it's the right flank. Michael Harrington is an offensive wingback, and not a young one - and he's asked to maintain width for his side of the formation, which means his position could be described as very high, or as Fire supporters call it "Jesus what the ---- is he doing all the way up there no no no." This puts astonishing pressure on Johan Kappelhof, who's pretty damned good but not superhuman. I expect Joao Plata, if he's healthy enough to play, to be frankly terrifying, as he'll line up five yards behind Harrington on that side and still be onside most of the time. Yikes.
A lopsided 4-4-2 with Accam very high up on the left and Alvarez tucked in the right: Bava; Vincent, Meira, Kappelhof, Harrington; Accam, McCarty, Juninho, Alvarez; de Leeuw, Nikolic.