The focus for this article is to look at the current preseason 2015 Fire roster and imagine how those players could be arranged into various tactical formations. While it is true that players play the game, coaches use formations to organize and simplify offensive and defensive assignments for a roster of players. Coaches also use formations to build on their players' strengths while trying to hide their weaknesses. Finally, formations allow players to develop confidence and team work during training.
I present the following seven formations in rank order based upon what this author feels would allow for the most successful arrangement of a starting XI for the 2015 Fire. I also have listed advantages and disadvantages for each formation. Clearly, while the product of this exercise is at best very fluid (depending upon player success in training, opponent(s) formation(s), player injuries, further player acquisitions), this process can be very enlightening as we watch the various drafts and await the start of the 2015 MLS season.
Ties indicate to this author that either formation is equally useful. Since the Fire signed Guly do Prado, I have removed Mike Magee from most of the formations as he won't be available at the start of the season. Have a read and see what you think! Let's talk favored formations down in the comments.
No. 1 (tie): 4-1-4-1
1: Puts Shipp and McGee "inside" in roles in which they can play to their strengths while hiding their lack of pace.
2: Jones and Igboananike both have burner speed to get behind opponents which provides more space (when opponents play deep) or allow for quick counter-attack options.
1: Neither Watson nor Cocis have shown the "legs" to play holding mid for 90 minutes.
No. 1 (tie): 4-2-3-1
1: This formation plays to the strength of all the players listed.
2: It greatly simplifies the roles required of Watson and Cocis (compared to 4-1-4-1)
3: It allows Shipp to play in close support of Accam while providing defensive support to reduce his defensive load in midfield
1: None with these players - but later - who plays, Shipp or a fit Magee??
No. 2: 4-4-2 Diamond
1: May be the best use of Shipp and Cocis inside while allowing strong overlaps by Jones and Palmer
1: This formation requires years of training to become second nature for all players during all situations (it took RSL 2-3 seasons)
No. 3 (tie): 4-3-3
1: Allows Jones to play wide and use his speed.
2: Allows Jones to combine with Accam (warp speed outside left).
3: Allows Shipp to play more inside.
1: Requires Igboananike to track LB and Accam to track RB.
2: Requires months of training to become comfortable for players without prior experience in this formation
No. 3 (tie): 3-5-2
1: Allows more offensive freedom for Watson during the flow of the game.
1: Requires more defensive discipline from Shipp and Cocis.
2: Puts much more pressure on all 3 defenders in 1v1 situations.
No. 4: 3-4-3
1: Spacing and positioning allows much more freedom for all players.
2: Best formation for high pressure and ball possession.
1: Puts much more pressure on all 3 defenders in 1v1 situations.
2: Requires Fire players to be more athletic than each positional opponent.
3: Requires high and rapid defensive pressure from all players.
No. 5: Flat 4-4-2
1: starts do Prado yet allows Amarikwa to come on after 60min