In Soccer, the formation and tactics are key to winning every single game. Every match up and situation needs to be covered and practiced, and your team will have success. When building a team, you have to have a set philosophy, or style of play, in which to create your team. You decide on a rhythm and tempo and the way you want to play. Once the philosophy is set, the time comes when you need to find the right players for the right position that fits the style of your team.
Philadelphia Union Manager John Hackworth and his coaching staff are very close to creating a new formation in the form of a 4-3-3. Four defenders, three central midfielders, two wingers, and one central forward. With the players that Hackworth has acquired on loan and in the SuperDraft, this system has some positives and negatives for this young Union side. It is clear that something had to be changed because last years system just was not working.
The 4-3-3 is a formation used by many of the MLS’s top clubs. It is centered around a strong midfield, pacey wingers who can cross the ball, and a striker who is a prolific goalscorer who is good technically and physically. Fortunately for the Union, they have all these necessary assets. Last year, Jack McInerny was one of the top forwards in the league. His combined goal scoring and play making abilities made him a force to be reckoned with. This year, Hackworth and and the Union hope to make him a focal point in the attack. McInerny will get the necessary service he needs with top-class wingers Danny Cruz and Sebastien le Toux, and Cristian Maidana. While Cruz and le Toux have splitting time on the right side of the pitch, Maidana has gotten lots of minutes to make an impact and impression. These three players have the quality to take defenders on and create opportunities for their teammates around them.
Hackworth’s new signing Maurice Edu is experienced and probably the Union’s best player this year. Not only does he contribute offensively, but he has the ability to play the holding roll and sit in front of the back four. This quality allow players like Vincent Nogueira and veteran Brian Carroll to play there game further up the field. Philly finally has that reliable midfielder who they know can cover for them when they go up in the attack.
Although there are numerous positives of this 4-3-3, every tactic has negatives. The Union defense is very young and inexperienced. The 4-3-3 demands players commit themselves to the offensive end. This leaves the defense exposed and open. Maurice Edu’s cover helps, but teams like Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake will easily break them down. If Hackworth can drill defensive discipline and how to cover a counter-attack correctly, the Union will be in good shape.
Everyone is buzzing for the MLS season to start, and eager to see a somewhat “new” Union. The question is whether they can move on from last season’s disappointment and make a run for the playoffs this year.