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Grind? or Go For It?: Tactical thoughts on Fire v Impact

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Does Jason Johnson have an impact on the Fire's tactical plan against Montreal? CoachTony thinks he could have a role to play balancing a more-attacking look from the Men in Red

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Our discussion this week which focuses on the Impact's tactical arrangement should look veeerrrryyyyy familiar ... since we saw it almost every week during Coach Klopas' tenure here at Toyota Park. The Impact use the 4-2-3-1 every game - only the names change week to week.

At striker, Jack McInerney has been in form lately, but Dom Oduro and Kenny Cooper have both earned starts this season. The attacking trio of Andrés Romero, Ignacio Piatti and Dilly Duka has been fairly stable, with Oduro occasionally getting minutes at the right wing for a different tactical look. Marco Donadel and Callum Mallace are the expected pairing in Klopas' inevitable double pivot, with Patrice Bernier third choice. Finally, in defense, Eric Miller is the preferred left back, Nigel Reo-Coker usually lines up on the right, and Laurent Ciman and old friend Bakary Soumare pair in the center.

Unless Coach Klopas tries to make a statement against his old club, we should expect the Impact to sit back and counter through Piatti, Duka and/or Romero. Oduro may start to stretch the Fire's defense over the top. The Montreal Impact this season are practiced, experienced, and comfortable ... the Fire will have their hands full Saturday.

The choice for the Fire: Go for it, or grind it out?

This week's question: does Coach Yallop Go For It this week against Montreal - or does he (continue) to play it safe??

If we're playing it safe here at home against the Impact - if the plan is to try to grind out a home win - we'll expect the Fire to come out in a 4-2-3-1 on offense ...

This arrangement has seen the Fire play the best 90 minutes of football in many seasons, taking a stretch of roughly 45 minutes against NYCFC and another 45 minutes against RSL. The problem with that alignment is Maloney and Shipp - or rather Maloney or Shipp. In this 4-2-3-1, there is only room for one schemer, and both Maloney and Shipp are ideally suited as schemers - so one of them schemes while the other ... watches ... because there isn't a second set of spaces to attack and neither is fast enough to run past his marker. So as we saw against RSL and the Crew and even during the second half of NYCFC, in this alignment the Fire become predictable in attack. Predictable is easily defendable.

On the other hand, if Coach Yallop plans to go for it this week, we'll finally expect something a little different ... maybe like this:

Tactically, on defense this alignment would play like a 4-3-3, where Polster defends the space in front of the center backs, Shipp and Maloney pick up the other two inside midfield spaces (and don't spend 90 minutes tracking back against an outside back!). Meanwhile Accam and Johnson defend the outside spaces/outside backs and make them choose: Go forward and leave space behind, or sit back to close the space but not overlap.

On offense, this should play like a 4-1-4-1, with both Maloney and Shipp able to use the spaces inside, while Accam and Johnson use their speed to get behind Montreal to turn their CBs and ping passes to open runners in the box. Polster sprays balls over the top or across the field, while Jones and Gehrig/Palmer make Romero and Duka track back defensively. And since both wings are available - with Accam on one side and Johnson on the other - in the middle, both Harry and Shaun become much less predictable in their positioning, their runs, and their passes.

Should the Fire play to overpower the Impact and keep them on their heels this week - or should we try to grind it out defensively for 90 and and hope to get the bounce? Take it to the comments!