As we slide into the 2015 season, we might start to wonder if we'll see a change in formation from Jeff Casar and company.
That's something we heard Dell Loy Hansen hint at when discussing our forward situation, and while it is slightly weird to hear our owner talking tactics, there's probably something to it. Will we shift toward a European-style 4-3-3? That seems to be the consensus for change, but it does have some interesting repercussions.
Real Salt Lake has been famous for that diamond midfield, and rightly so. We've been a bastion of consistency, with changes only coming when personnel concerns demand it.
This formation is built around Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman. There's no mistaking that. The diamond midfield exists to get the best out of both of those, and it's hard to argue with its success. As we look at Kyle Beckerman's future with the club — he's signed a three-year contract extension, after all — we might wonder what happens in the midfield.
It's hard to see Cassar departing from any formation with a single defensive midfielder. This is almost indisputably where Kyle Beckerman is best. We've seen it at the international level repeatedly: Kyle Beckerman is at his best when he's the only defensive midfielder. It's a bit of an oddity, really. The addition of another defensive midfielder would seem intuitively to provide additional support to a player, but it's not proved the case.
Kyle Beckerman, after all, excels when he's reading the space between attackers, when he's picking out the right spot to prevent an attack from building properly. His game isn't underpinned by speed but by intelligence, and it's because of this that he can take sole responsibility for that anchor spot in front of the defense.
As we go forward and look at a formation change, don't bank on much changing for Kyle Beckerman. We might see two midfielders ahead of him instead of three, but we probably won't see a midfielder alongside him when we look at the team sheet. Of course, individual moments dictate players drop beside and around him, but that's another essential part of the job, isn't it? Guiding the players alongside you, shepherding play, and generally conducting the midfield in defensive stages of the game — these are areas in which Beckerman excels.
I don't mean to just wax effusive about Beckerman aimlessly. It's easy to do that, but the point is mostly that as much as things might change around him, that's not going to change. We might see other very impactful changes in our lineup, but Beckerman shifting to accommodate another defensive midfielder isn't one of them.