The US has been playing a 4-4-2 diamond for most of the build up to the World Cup. For newer fans of the US, or for fans who haven’t been following the team recently, you might not understand what this means for the team. Of course, Klinnsman claims formations mean little in soccer, and that it is more about how the team plays together. Still, understanding the formation will give a better understanding of the roles of the players and how they will play as a team.
What is a 4-4-2 Diamond?
The 4-4-2 diamond’s distinctive feature is the diamond shape in the midfield. The two side midfielders play neither as central midfielders or as wide midfielders, but provide numerous ways for the midfielders to pass and move the ball up the pitch.
If you’d like a more thorough explanation of how this formation works, check out the links below:
The 4-3-1-2 Formation: This is essentially the same as the 4-4-2 diamond
Why the diamond?
The two best players in attack for the US are Bradley and Dempsey. The Diamond creates a space for both players to play to their strengths. For Bradley, he will be the playmaker in the middle of the field at the top of the diamond, with much of the US’s offense going through him.
For Dempsey, he will be able to play up even further in the field as a forward, and allow him to focus on scoring goals. In the 4-2-3-1, Bradley was held back as a holding midfielder, and Dempsey was often on the wing, which does not play to either players current strengths.
Bleacher Report does a great job going into how these two players will benefit from this formation as well as looking at how the US can win with the diamond.
What to look for tactically?
Besides the diamond shape, which USA Today does a great job showing in pictures, there are other features that fans will be able to see when the US plays. The first will be Bradley tracking box to box. This means you will see him making plays on defense and offense. Also, many of the passes forward will either be to him or from him. He really will be the key to US’s offense.
The second will be the overlapping fullbacks. The fullbacks are the two defenders who play wide. They will both likely move very far up the field as they are the players most likely to provide width on offense.
Finally, watch how the formation will bend and flex on both offense and defense to create and close passing lanes. The weakness of this formation can be on the wings, and how the team reacts to counter attacks along the sidelines will determine how successful the team can be in the World Cup.
When is the first game?
US will play Ghana at 6 PM EST, 5 PM Central.