Alright then, after a stop start pre-season so far and just the one fog strewn lagging stream to judge things by, things finally get serious this week as it's once again Mickey Mouse Cup time. Starting with a game against Columbus, what could go wrong with that one? Last year of course that exact fixture went wrong for Stefan Frei who left with a broken nose and never returned, Joe Bendik taking his chance and running with it. Frei ended up in Seattle and Bendik seemed set for undisputed number one status, until Julio Cesar fell into Ryan Nelsen's lap and now here we are.
The potential debut of Cesar, along with a few other players who could make their preseason bow,is of course one of the things to look out for here. His compatriots Gilberto and Jackson are two of them, their paperwork all now sorted out and it will be intriguing to see exactly where they fit in Nelsen's plans. How Gilberto lines up alongside, ahead of or behind Jermain Defoe will be probably the most important tactical puzzle for Nelsen to figure out this year. We won't get the exact answer to that of course what with Defoe back at Tottenham after his brief trip over for a Justin Timberlake concert, but we'll hopefully get a bit of an idea as to what sort of role he's suited for. Also, even more fingers crossed hopefully for this one, we'll see evidence of the talent that's going to bring in those 25 goals he talked about at media day.
In defence, Justin Morrow looked alright in his debut against DC and this time we should get an idea of how Bradley Orr looks at right back as well. In the middle Steven Caldwell could make his debut, it'd be good to see him back with Doneil Henry again, and it'll also be good to get a better idea of Nick Hagglund or Ryan Richter's play in the middle to see if they look like providing reliable depth.
The game against DC saw a lot of Michael Bradley coming back to pick the ball up from the defence to launch the attack which he did very well, though the amount of times he was knocking the ball out to the wide players suggested there hasn't been a great tactical evolution from what we saw last year. If Bradley and Osorio are played again in the middle, that should bode well for more technically advanced play through the middle as they get used to each other, which having Gilberto up front should help with. Depending on who plays when, there could be a good test of the defensive ability of that pairing as they may come up against TFC's very own Bete Noire in Federico Higuain.
So, plenty of things to look for, with players trying to nail down first team spots, or draft picks trying to earn themselves a contract but as always, the main thing to hope for is no injuries, the loss of Bright Dike is a more than big enough blow for now.
I'd say it's also best not to rush too hasty of a judgement from anything we see here today, but where's the fun in that? We'll have the stream embedded below as soon as we find it, join us in the comments section below for all that judgement rushing fun as it happens.