Minnesota United FC Formation Preview/Analysis

For much of last year, as well as this preseason, MN United FC has been playing in predominantly 4-2-3-1.  As a fairly newer fan of the game, I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant.  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the formation?  Luckily, it’s a fairly popular formation in the Premier League, and a number of great discussions of the formation have been written, which I have included at the bottom of this post.

The Defense

The 4-2-3-1 tends toward a more defensive formation.  There are two defensive midfielders, which means that the formation is very difficult to break down in the middle.  It also give the fullbacks like Justin Davis space to move forward on the attack.  We saw that a lot last year with the fullbacks pressing forward on the attack.  However, the 3 attacking midfielders can sometimes take up the space that a fullback coming forward might fill, which means you won’t see the fullbacks running all the way up to the penalty box in the attack.  Instead, they will likely pass it off by the midway line, or just past it.


The two wide attacking midfielders will be up along the sides of the field in the offensive zone.  We saw Omar Daley use this positioning to devastating effect in the last two games last season.  In the first half of the season last year, we saw Bracallelo make great runs from the outside to the top of the box and finish a couple of good passes from the center mid.

The Attack

In the attack, the goal is to get the ball to the forward, likely Campos, who will receive the ball with his back to the goal.  He then drops it off to one of the 3 attacking midfielders, often the center mid, who looks to be Ibarra this year.  We saw this as part of the problem last year with the offense.  When the ball got to Campos, he often didn’t have a good outlet for a pass and we would turn it over in the final third.

Dream line up for Minnesota United FC this season.  Going through the team roster, it makes sense to play with 5 midfielders, because we have so many strong midfielders in our lineup.  It’s interesting too because we have two converted midfielders playing defense for us.

Forward: Campos

Attacking Mids: Watson, Ibarra, Daley

Defensive Mids: Takada, Goyorio

Defense: Davis, Pitchkolan, Venegas ,Kallman

Goalie: Matt Van Okel

What would be your ideal formation this year?


Glactive: 4-2-3-1 Formation by Luke Brooks-Smith

Talking about Football: What is the benefit of moving from 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1?  Demonstrated by Spain from the 34th minute of the Euro 2008 semi-final

The Guardian: The Question: why has 4-4-2 been superseded by 4-2-3-1?

FourFourTwo: A shift away from the increasingly popular 4-2-3-1?

Bleacher Report: Why 4-2-3-1 is the most versatile formation in football right now

About Bill MK

A writer, an avid consumer of soccer, music, media, books and games, a poorly self-taught handy man, a nom de plume.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Minnesota United FC Formation Preview/Analysis

  1. bq says:

    Goyorio is a true #10 type player and is certainly not a defensive midfielder. For him it’s all about setting up players and seeing the field. He also specializes in free kicks and corners. With that said, he may be asked to fill a defensive role with Minnesota as there is a glut of midfielders.

    Years ago I was mentored by a coach who had a tragedy occur within his team and lost the best striker in the state and only the second of two finishers. After struggling for the first month and dropping most of their preseason and early games, he changed the formation to a 4-5-1 where anyone of the midfielders could join in on the attack at any particular time as long as there was cover for that assisting player. In the end, the team won the MN State HS Tournament. What I learned from that is it’s not the formation that’s important, it’s how each player understands their role on the team in that formation that is the most important.

    • Matt Kauko says:

      I think you’re right about gyozzo, but I couldn’t figure out how to fit all the midfielders in. We’ve got a glut of decent to good midfielders. I’m intrigued to see where they all end up playing.

      I think soccer is such a cat and mouse game as far as formations go, with formations arising in response to what others are playing. Nonetheless, I think you are right, it ultimately comes down to how well the team understands their role I the system more than the system itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s