Friday, July 9, 2010

4-2-3-1 The Formation of the Future?

Since Steve Sampson's 3-6-1 disaster in WC 1998, we have primarily been a 4-4-2 shop.  Bruce Arena did try a 3-5-2 at times but mostly used a 4-4-2 (or perhaps more accurately, a 4-4-1-1).  Since then, Bob Bradley has been relentlessly accused by fans of using the 4-4-2 "empty bucket" where 2 holding or defensive midfielders play deeper than the two wings while the forwards stay up top, creating a bucket formation in the midfield:


In actuality, we are a fairly rigid 4-4-2 on defense (2 straight lines of 4!).  But on offense, I've noticed that we really are more a 4-2-2-2, with Landon and Dempsey cutting centrally inside at will and our fullbacks having to provide width and make overlapping runs for us.  If the opposing team has strong possession midfielders and capable flank attackers, our fullbacks get pinned back, and our offense seems to be really narrow, and therefore sometimes sputter.  On offense it can look like this:


Anyway, I thought it was interesting that most of the successful world class teams used a 4-2-3-1 formation this WC.  Look at how Spain, Holland, Germany and Brazil have deployed their forward/midfielders.

-------Torres------- (If Torres' out, Villa's up top, Pedro's on the wing)

------Van Persie-----
-VanBom-de Jong---



Look at how one of these teams would lineup in the midfield vs ours:


At the very least, midfield possession favors them.

So lets say Klinnsman takes over and wants to play a 4-2-3-1.  Particularly for us, it would eliminate the eternal struggle for a second forward and make use of the depth of our midfielders.  (Of course, Jozy would need to, you know, score a little more often, like Klose, Fabiano or Villa, but that's a whole new conversation for another day.)  How would it look?


So the question is who would play the X?  Who is our playmaker?

Candidates: Landon could shift back into a strictly central position but play deeper behind the striker than he did under McBride in WC 2006.  I think Dempsey would be fine in this role as well while Holden slots in on the right in his place.  Jose Francisco Torres might be great fit for this role with his ball and passing skills - his lack of defending ability could be shielded there.  Or perhaps Adu might fit this spot in a few years, pending maturity level.  Personally, I'd keep Landon and Dempsey out wide and take Benny Feilhaber's experience and field vision right now.  (Okay, I'm not going to discuss the world class players deployed there for those other teams that make it work - Sneijder, Kaka, Xavi and even the newcomer Ozil.)

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