This weekend marks the calendar's penultimate Saturday without MLS action as we inch closer to opening day on March 2. Preseason is almost over; MLS is almost back.
For the league's five clubs in the Concacaf Champions League, preseason is essentially already over as preparations for next week's Round of 16 first legs in full focus. As for the other 19 sides, time is running out to get right before the games start counting.
On Saturday, there are double-digit preseason games on the slate. Here are a few things to watch for:
Pomykal vs. Aranguiz and Ondransak vs. Badji in Dallas
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders | 12 pm ET
Two position battles in the FC Dallas attack are taking shape this preseason. At the moment, it looks like Paxton Pomykal and Dom Badji have the inside track to get the opening day nod from first-year coach Luchi Gonzalez over Pablo Aranguiz and Zdenek Ondrasek.
With the assumed starters this preseason, Pomykal has featured in midfield and Badji up top. Will it continue that way on Saturday?
Bonus: There are a ton of talented teenagers in Seattle, as Andrew Wiebe points out. If any of them get the start, it will be fun to watch tomorrow's stars cut their teeth with the starters in preseason. What a moment it must have been for 15-year-old midfielder Danny Leyva to play 90 minutes in midfield opposite Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night.
More reps for Philly's pressing diamond
Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact | 4 pm ET
Even after registering a franchise-record 50 points last season, the Philadelphia Union are making tectonic shifts for 2019.
The club hit the half-century mark of points by playing a possession-based 4-3-3 in 2018 with Borek Dockal pulling the strings. Now, the Union are intent on changing to a high-press 4-4-2 diamond with Marco Fabian as the No. 10. On Saturday, they have another chance to put to get valuable match reps.
The position battles are interesting, too. Will Derrick Jones, 21-year-old center mid who made an appearance on our 2018 22 Under 22 list, be a regular in the first team starting XI? He's got a chance. Who starts up top? Sergio Santos and Cory Burke seem to have the inside track, but that leaves last season's leading scorer Fafa Picault on the bench, as well as last season's big acquisition David Accam further down the pecking order.
More information on FC Cincinnati, please
FC Cincinnati vs. Charleston Battery | 7:30 pm ET
Formation? Preferred starting XI? Tactics? Who plays with whom in midfield? And the backline? Each question is lacking certain answers in Cincinnati.
Coach Alan Koch has used a few different formations this preseason and, especially after the acquisition of Kekuta Manneh, has a myriad of different tactics and formations he can use. Central defense and defensive midfield are two obvious strongpoints in the squad, meaning the club can play three at the back, a tight diamond in midfield, two up top, 4-2-3-1 or, now, a sturdy 4-3-3 that's electric in open space.
The problem is we have no clue what the starting XI will be on March 2 against the Sounders. We have no clue what the starting XI will be a month later against Sporting Kansas City, either. If preseason is to forecast what's to come, Cincy will have more than a few different looks in 2019.