So we’ve made it to Matchday 4 in the MLS season. It’s been fun to examine the tactics used by the Fire as well as our opponents in order to further enjoy our football. In previous features, we’ve looked back to previous games for both teams to review who has been playing and in which formations, the better to understand our successes and failures and to predict the line-up and the formations for both teams for the upcoming contest.
Let’s change our view
Well, for this week’s discussion there are several reasons for us to do it differently. First of all, this is the first FIFA fixture weekend of MLS 2015. Several of the players which have been in the first eleven for our Fire are away on international duty (thanks again, MLS schedulers). Two of our expected starters - Sean Maloney and David Accam - are missing (tip o’ the hat to Jeff Engelhardt). Second, the Injury Bug has bitten the Union hard (look here or here). So neither team has their first choice starting XI available. Finally, since our look together at tactical considerations this week is being written on Saturday afternoon while New England is beating San Jose 2-1, we’re very late to this party. Expect the Union to come out in a 4-3-3 - look at Sean Spence's Fireside Chat for who and where.
Let’s turn to our Fire
The Fire have played several formations this season as Coach Yallop has experimented with both personnel and formations. So far we have seen 4-4-2 diamond, 4-1-4-1, 4-1-3-2 and 4-2-3-1. How will the Fire line-up to beat Philly on ESPN2 on Sunday? Who will be playing where? What tactical construct will FY employ?
Let’s think differently this week - let’s allow the players to pick the system. And let’s pick two sets of players and the corresponding alignment which they could dictate.
One set of players to pick are the young guns - the players who have shown (or who have yet to have the chance to show) that they are the Fire for the future. Shipp - Jones - Polster - Stephens - Fernandez - players who should be hungry to state their claim to a starting spot - to lead the Fire to victory. If we choose these players, the formation they suggest would be 4-1-4-1. On defense, the same back four as last week: Palmer - Adailton - Larentowicz - Gehrig. In the middle, Polster plays holding midfield, Jones plays on the left, Shipp and Fernandez share the center, and Stephens plays on the right. Either Igboananike or Amerikwa up front . Key concepts: Play to feet - short passes - combination - play out of the back - ball control.
Another set of players to pick are the vets - the players with the experience to do what’s necessary. Larentowicz - Watson - Alex: players who should be hungry to take back their starting spot during this week’s training to get the Fire to victory. If we choose these players, the formation they suggest would be 4-2-3-1. On defense, Jones - Adailton - Gehrig - Palmer. In the middle, Big Red and Watson as dual holding mids, Alex on the left, Shipp in the middle, and Igboananike on the right. Amerikwa to play over the top. Key concepts: Ball to space - long passes - changing the field - 1-2 touch - play with pace.
Which will we see come Sunday? Which way will we play? I can barely wait to find out! Leave your thoughts below.