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The Guardian: The Question: why has 4-4-2 been superseded by 4-2-3-1?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