The weather is beautiful. Not too hot and little humidity. Waking up this morning, going outside with my coffee in an Unused Substitutes mug, and soaking in the vibes of my favorite time of year. The only thing in the air thicker than excitement and optimism is the pollen.

Today is the first preseason match of the Rowdies 2021 Eastern Conference title defense. After a weird and heartbreaking end befitting of a year like 2020, the Green and Gold is back on the pitch, and while results are meaningless, our joy, optimism, and excitement are not. We head into this season with the majority of our roster intact, something that is relatively new for this organization which has experienced constant offseason churn. The new signings all seem to have an eye for the future to continue Neill’s vision.

Not having the mystery of how the pieces will fit is a relief for this fan. We can spend the pre-season letting the team get fit and fine tune the system and tactics Neill has pushed since he’s taken over. From my view, this can only be a benefit. You have to believe these players have a chip on their shoulder after having the Final cancelled. All their hard work coming to an abrupt end due to Covid will only serve as extra motivation, and we know Neill will have them funnel that towards dominance.

It’ll be hard not to read much into this first 90 minutes of action, especially as we are all starved of Rowdies soccer and well, we do a weekly show that needs content, but let’s just crack open an Irn-Bru and enjoy the first day of preseason.

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