Monday, May 15, 2017

4-4-2? I Don't Understand Those Numbers

So the Rapids ran out on Saturday is this formation I couldn't quite comprehend.  A 4-4-2 which must be the new hotness or something, I haven't seen the likes of it for many years.

All joking aside I don't believe it was a coincidence that the new formation corresponded to the best play we've seen from the team this year and the biggest win since the USOC match against the Switchbacks in June of 2015 (in the league you have to go back to the April 2015 game in Dallas where we blew them out 4-0).  The last time we beat a MLS team at home by 3 was almost 3 years ago when we beat Chivas USA 3-0.

Colorado has unintentionally developed a decent 4-4-2 roster while being unsuccessful building a 4-2-3-1 roster.  Matthew Doyle does a pretty good writeup in the middle of his Armchair Analyst column this week.  In short, the move of Hairston to RB and the change in formation allowed us to hide some weaknesses and play to some strengths in a way the 4-2-3-1 didn't, especially since our greatest weakness was a player who could play the key #10 position in that formation.

I don't think the formation change was the only reason we won but it represented a change in the mentality of the team.  Instead of defending with at least 6 if not more the team was set up with 5 defenders (the back 4 + Azira), a box-to-box guy (Powers), and 4 attacking players.  Hairston at RB was also a more attack-minded fullback than Williams.  Also by having two in the box (Gordon & Doyle) the San Jose defense was forced to do more than collapse on the lone striker which gave our attack room to work with.

Going forward I think the team needs to stick with the 4-4-2.  Hairston should have played Williams to the bench, I know Hairston wants to play further up but right now the team needs him at fullback.  I'm not sold on Gordon partnering Badji up front, I think Doyle should get a legitimate shot there and I expect he will, his being on the bench was probably partially driven by the 3 games this week.  Boateng will take Powers' spot and Sjoberg will take Burling's when they're healthy.

Man of the Match: Shkelzen Gashi.  Gets on the score list for the first time this year and follows it up with a second.  You do you Gashi.

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