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The Plata-Findley Connection: Midfield runs, deep-lying forward prove fruitful

Robbie Findley and Joao Plata might not seem like the most natural pairing, but with some craft from other positions on the pitch, the whole system ticks. (Note: Mouse over the images for some description of what they purport to illustrate.)

If one thing can be said about the Joao Plata-Robbie Findley pairing, it's that it worked very, very well against San Jose. But let's look at why it worked so well, shall we? We'll also compare some of the successes had against Chicago, though they were relatively few.

Throughout, you can see Plata or Findley dropping into a deep position while the other occupies the central defenders. This leaves the midfield to mark the deep striker and two of the defenders to mark the further forward attacker. Against both San Jose and Chicago, this vacated space for a midfield run, often taken by Ned Grabavoy or Javier Morales.

Those midfield runs created all three goals against San Jose, but there were several factors involved that allowed those to take place. First, the defense or midfield obtains the ball around the midfield line, catching the opponent off-guard. Then, in order of occurrence: 1) One striker drops, the other stays forward. 2) The defense pulls to one side as the top striker makes a diagonal run. 3) A midfielder makes a run from deep on the other side. 4) The player on the ball sees the run and makes the proper pass.

If Plata and Findley do pair again against LA Galaxy, the midfielders will need to make those crafty runs again. With Omar Gonzalez — the Galaxy's key defender — out on international duty, space should open up with frequency.