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Five formations RSL could try in 2017

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We’ve established that Real doesn’t have a firm identity. Let’s give it one.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

What’s in a formation? Does a Joao Plata in a 4-3-3 not dance as joyfully in a 4-4-2? Is an Albert Rusnak led counter attack any less ruthless in a 4-5-1? These are questions that soccer observers have pondered for centuries, and while the formation doesn’t determine everything in a match, it does provide context for everything.

Despite continued affirmations of the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 by Jeff Cassar and the front office, the formation has failed to take off, and has led to some fairly uninspiring football. While a formation change isn’t a cure all, a shakeup could unlock the attacking potential within the squad and lead to some improved results. Here are five formations that Cassar and Co could roll out this season.

(Note: These lineups assume all players are available)

1. 4-1-3-2

For starters, we’ll look at what I see as the best of his options. Joao Plata slots into arguably his best position as a second forward, Rusnak is still pulling strings, and we add another attack minded player. The biggest problem here is asking Beckerman to cover a lot of ground on those aging legs. In January I would’ve answered that by sliding Sunny into the no. 6, role but he’s done nothing in 2017 to inspire that kind of confidence.

2. 4-4-2

The flat 4-4-2 has fallen out of favor in recent years, but one thing I like about it is the simplicity. Responsibilities are pretty clear and most players have at least some sort of familiarity in it, making it easy to implement without a ton of reps. In this iteration, the central midfield is fairly rigid, designed to maintain possession and provide defensive cover, while the two wingers are the playmakers.

3. 3-5-2

The most intriguing option on the list, this formation can punish 4-3-3 teams by overwhelming the midfield. Rather intentionally or not, RSL actually has pretty good personnel for the look. Once more Plata is the second forward and Rusnak is manning the middle. I went with Allen over Beltran though either could be effective, and to throw irondeepbicycle a bone, I guess Beckerman could move to the backline and Mulholland or Holness can slot in that midfield role.

4. 3-4-3

Another look at a three man backline, this formation is the only one that keeps three across the front, but gives them a little more creative help. Allen moves back to the wing as I think he goes endline to endline better than Ricardo Velazco would. Rusnak pairs with a defensive stopper in the midfield, giving him freedom to roam and play through balls to 5 different options.

5. 4-4-2 Diamond

I went there. The infamous(more than famous) diamond, made legendary by Jason Kreis, the only man to simply walk through Mordor, destroy the demigorgon, and watch P.S. I Love You without crying. Many have called for a throwback to the diamond and while I don’t think it cures all the nation’s ills, I think it would be an interesting look to throw out. I’ve given nods here mostly to guys who have played in this system as some of the defensive rotations require repetitions to get it right. Though it doesn’t maximize his offensive talent, I think Allen would be great in the shuttler role.

Which formation would you like to see RSL roll out? What’d we miss?