The past few preseasons have provided false hope by way of positive exhibition results coming into league play, but this 6-0-0 run from the Fire has a slightly different feel to it. This version of the Fire concluded training camp with its most impressive result so far, a 4-1 defeat of defending Eastern Conference champion Toronto FC.
Veljko Paunovic has stuck to his first team for most of preseason and this match featured what in all likelihood will be his opening day eleven against most of Toronto FC's starters. The result was certainly encouraging for a club that can't afford another dismal start to a new campaign.
Juninho struck early for Chicago, unleashing a blast from 30 yards out in the 10th minute after TFC had seen a lot of the ball to begin the match. After Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin ran over Michael de Leeuw in the box in the 16th minute, Nemanja Nikolic buried a penalty kick to give the Fire a 2-0 lead.
The Fire didn't create many chances in the first half but they capitalized on the looks did they get. That continued in the 39th when David Accam and Nikolic worked a give-and-go following a counter. Accam got the ball back from Nikolic and found de Leeuw at the far post for a tap in. The Dutch attacker finished a very good preseason in the 75th, picking of an errant TFC pass to beat Irwin for a 4-0 Fire advantage.
Toronto scored a goal late on spot kick of their own in the 89th. Other than right back, goalkeeper might be the Fire's biggest question mark. Jorge Bava tripped Tsubasa Endoh in the area and Tossaint Ricketts got the consolation score for TFC.
Results in preseason mean nothing but the signs during this go-round are encouraging. The Fire have shown that they have the personnel to bury chances when presented with them so far. If that continues, they'll at the least be entertaining to watch.
The real test begins next Saturday in Columbus.
Bava; Harrington (Barson 62'), Kappelhof, Meira (Campbell 75'), Vincent; Juninho, McCarty; Alvarez (Goossens 62'), de Leeuw (Arshakyan 75'), Accam (Soilgnac 62'); Nikolic (Mihailovic 75')