Team Tactics

A Tactical Analysis of NYRB's 3-2 Win over OCSC by Coleman Larned

After starting the 2016 MLS season 1-0-6, New York Red Bulls earned a deserved victory at home against Orlando City SC. Although the 3-2 scoreline doesn't suggest domination, RBNY controlled the tempo for the majority of the game, after having to shake off and compensate for an early 3' Kyle Larin goal. The victory was confirmation of something our expected goals numbers have been saying all season – NYRB have gotten very unlucky with their finishing, having converted almost 13 fewer goals than they should have expected.

More after the jump.

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MLS Semifinals Tactical Preview by Coleman Larned

There are a multitude of tactical questions facing each remaining team in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Can New York's retooled wing-backs be relied on to defend capably? Can the Crew maintain a consistent attack with Federico Higuain's inconsistent performances? Can anything be done to stop Dallas' attack through Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo? And how will suspensions affect Portland's midfield? I'll examine each of these questions and provide a tactical preview of of the Conference Finals below.

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More rambling thoughts on formations by Drew Olsen

A big thanks to Dave Clark (or to whomever he got them from) of Sounder[at]Heart, from whom I'm about to rip the following quotes. Today during an pre-season opening presser with the media, Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid addressed questions concerning his roster construction and the possibilities of what type of formations the team could deploy this season. This is a pressing matter among most Sounders supporters who are attempting to peer inside the tactics of this unusual off-season of maneuvers for the club.

"We have an idea, as in terms of what we want to do. We want to play two upfront. We think we're better with two upfront and Dempsey, I think, is more effective when he has two guys in front of him... It's like I always say, people get too hung up in 'Is it a diamond midfield? Is it a 4-4-2? Is it a 4-2-3-1?' It's all about how players play on different parts of the field. Players like to play in certain areas of the field and they like to drift to certain areas. We just need to construct a system, if you want to call it that, and place guys on the field where they can compliment each other and be able to take advantage of where they like to play and what they do well."

Again, I love this because I think it truly reflects the current incarnation of soccer. Players are smarter now and more endowed with Soccer IQ than what they were years ago. Finding players that function best in certain areas of the field where your team needs it most should be the goal of any front office.

I always loved this quote from Dominic Kinnear, who told Matthew Doyle, the MLS Soccer Armchair Analyst, “You either have the ball or you don’t, I’m not a big fan of talking formations." There is just so much awesomeness there in the sense that Dom takes a complicated intrinsic function of the coach, and instead of further vague direction, he simplifies it.

Again, I've said it before that formations and placement matter. There was a reason that Seattle struggled last year when they used Adam Moffat in an awkward and unfamiliar location as they attempted to implement a diamond formation in an effort accentuate the talents of newly acquired Clint Dempsey. This ended up a bad decision for quite a few different reasons, outside of the fact that Adam Moffat just wasn't very good in his appearances at that position.

Another problem with the Sounders last season was their problem with certain players drifting across various places on the pitch, where I don't think the coaching staff had planned for them to be. This caused problems early in the season despite the level of talent at their disposal. A specific example would be Mario Martinez and his tendency to wander. This might not have been factored or accounted for as they deployed him to wide positions. Maybe they had expectations of him residing as a true winger in the vein of Mauro Rosales. I'm not sure this is specifically an issue so much as, if it's taken into account, you just get players to drift into the open spaces that are created with that movement.

You can call this a free flowing system or a variety of many other things. I suppose it doesn't really matter all that much. The important take away is that you have a method in place to score goals and prevent them from being scored against you. Whether you choose to exercise a formation to best do that or not, we're all judged by results. It'll be interesting to see how the Dynamo and Sounders continue to develop over the 2014 season.