Shift to 4-2-1-3 provides good, bad moments, but flexibility encouraging

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Kreis's experimentation with formation continued in earnest last night, and with a 1-0 victory the result, there are certainly some positives to be gleaned from the match. As a one-off formation, there were both positives and negatives to take from the rolling out of a 4-2-1-3, with Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales in the midfield.

Good: Morales, Grabavoy, and Beckerman have been involved in a great many matches in the last few weeks, and they all played in the set of three matches in eight days. It's not intuitive from an unadulterated look at a squad chart, but the three-forward approach — which perhaps was less about three forwards and more about two wingers — mitigated the need for the midfielders to take up wide positions. As such, they were making fewer long, sprinting runs to either flank.

Bad: Getting those three moving into wide positions is part of our constitutional makeup at this point. We see the evidence week-in, week-out — when Kyle Beckerman gets into a wide position in the attacking third, play become so radically stretched that scoring a goal isn't the most difficult of propositions. When Morales is in wide positions, we look dangerous too — and both players taking up different spots opens up gobs of space for Ned Grabavoy.

Good: We got Olmes Garcia and Joao Plata on to the pitch, and we had a natural width about us as a result. We typically lack that natural width, so seeing that — and having both of those players available to track back and help out in defense — was interesting indeed. Natural defensive width is something we sometimes really miss.

Bad: I'm not sure it worked, having those two tracking back. We were generally less effective in transition, and while we defended nobly, I don't know that we defended better than we normally would with the diamond. We typically would have a wide midfielder tracking runs alongside the full back, so in that sense, it allowed us a greater opportunity to keep play in wide areas — there were fewer spaces centrally to exploit — and it gave us a less lopsided defensive stance.

Good: We were able to provide natural attacking width — as Tony points out — and that could have provided more dangerous moments. Interestingly, I'd wager that the formation was essentially the right half of our typical diamond made symmetrical — typically, Robbie Findley is not in a totally different spot than where Garcia was; the big difference was having Joao Plata higher than a left-sided midfielder would be.

Bad: We didn't capitalize on that. We needed those players to make more effective runs on the flank — they were a bit too static. I'll let Jason Kreis do the talking: "The other thing that I think if we're going to continue forward looking at that we've got to get those players moving more, I don't like them standing on their outside backs and getting themselves marked."

Finally, good: We need flexibility moving forward. Too many times in the past we shoehorned players into a system they weren't comfortable with — see Jean Alexandre as a forward, who did some good things but surely wasn't a forward. Playing to the strengths of our squad is incredibly important, and while I doubt Jason Kreis didn't accept that in the past, seeing him truly embrace that is encouraging.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join RSL Soapbox

You must be a member of RSL Soapbox to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at RSL Soapbox. You should read them.

Join RSL Soapbox

You must be a member of RSL Soapbox to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at RSL Soapbox. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker