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Into the homestretch of the prologue

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Less than two weeks before the Metro Reds take the field in earnest, and if you can claim you know what this team will look like, you're lying. Hell, take that literally; I'm getting the strong sense that on the evening of April 2, the starting eleven will be warming up in their Underarmour, waiting on a couple gnarled old seamstresses to finish darning up the new jerseys. Anyone want to bet our first glimpse at NY96's new look comes when they trot on the field at RFK?

That's a superficial aspect of things, of course. Yet it's a decent metaphor for the half-baked state the team is in right now. What we can't see, but know, is that there's still a ton of experimentation going on. It's all about Mo throwing formations and player combinations at the wall, to see what sticks. Stammler at forward? Why not? Three-man, four-man backlines? It's supposed to be half-baked.

An old, consoling refrain gets invoked after a couple goalless, (and apparently) threatless stinkers like those we've had in Carolina: "It's only preseason." Well, it is only preseason. And if we know one thing after ten years of MLS, it's that no one wins the league by July. It's not merely impossible, what with the playoffs; it's bad strategy. Coming out of the gate red-hot, like LA '96 or Revs '05, can burn a team out long before the finish. I'm not a big believer in MLS teams going wire-to-wire in any event. It just doesn't happen very much.

If you believe the first five to eight weeks of the season is something like a play touring and working out the kinks before hitting Broadway, you don't get apoplectic after getting blanked by a second division side that's been together for a week. You don't put a huge weight on what happens in the "final dress rehearsal", tomorrow night against Houston.

However, does Mo really have the luxury to play around for the first quarter of the season?

Considering that the massive overhaul hinted at over the winter never really came off - considering that this is largely the same personnel as what we finished off with, t he question(s) today should be; how much worry is warranted over the lack of a physical, go-to striker?Youri's a force, but it's unfair - and stupid - to put the weight of the world on his 38 year old shoulders.

Why is there nothing on the horizon?

Shouldn't this improvement process be a little further along by now?

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