Columbus Crew SC is facing a rough 2017 Major League Soccer season start, as the team collected a single point after its first two matches following a 1-1 home draw with the Chicago Fire and a 3-1 defeat against the Houston Dynamo on the road.
In both matches, the Black & Gold struggled to adjust to the opposition’s tactical strategies and left the fans with the impression that the result could have been better if some stylistic changes were made.
The lack of alterations during games, indeed, is one of the major criticisms of head coach Gregg Berhalter. Since he took over in 2014, Crew SC has played under the same 4-2-3-1 system that had the team inn MLS Cup in 2015 and out of playoff contention last year.
Early in preseason, Berhalter hinted that the team could eventually play with a three-man backline. The system was actually tested in some scrimmages and friendlies, but is yet to be used in official competition.
Here are a few other tactical systems that could work for Columbus:
To play under the system that came back to life recently after years of disuse, Crew SC would have to trade one of its attacking midfielders/wingers for a center back.
Defense would arguably be better protected and less vulnerable to counter attacks. Fullbacks would be allowed to help more on the attacking third.
For this system to work, Crew SC would have to bench one of Federico Higuaín, Ethan Finlay or Justin Meram. One of Meram or Finlay would also have to play as a second forward, which is not their preferred role.
If Crew SC wants to replicate Chelsea’s -- of the English Premier League — successful system, it would have to have Higuaín out of the starting XI.
Crew SC seems to have the right pieces to, in some capacity, replicate Chelsea’s defensive system with Josh Williams playing Cesar Azpilicueta’s role and Nicolai Naess acting as a poor man’s David Luiz, distributing from the back and helping to fill the midfield when necessary. Three men on the back should also be enough to make goalkeepers use less their feet.
With only two men in the midfield, Will Trapp and Mohammed Abu/Artur would have to cover a lot of ground. Also, pretty much all of the team’s offensive weapons would be on the wings, making Crew SC’s game somehow predictable.
If Crew SC decided to play with two forwards, Adam Jahn steps in and takes, presumably, Higuain’s spot on the team.
With Jahn up front, Crew SC would have a big body inside the box and would be able to make more successful crosses. Giving more freedom to Ola Kamara could also translate into something good considering the Norwegian’s skills.
Again, most of the team’s creative punch would come from the wings. Trapp and Abu/Artur would have to be more box-to-box-type midfielders than just possession players.
On this system, Berhalter would pick Finlay or Meram to play as a second forward and would use the three center midfielders together.
The team would be poised to control the possession hugely with Higuain playing in front of three midfielders with good passing skills. The Argentinean would also have more freedom to move on the attacking third.
With only one attacking midfielder, fullbacks’ offensive contributions would be a must for the team to create. Center midfielders would also have to step up offensively more than they currently do.
A slight variation from the current system, replacing Higuian by a more defensive-minded midfielder.
The midfield would be more protected with three dynamic players shielding the back line. Crew SC would also be able to explore the good chemistry between its fullbacks and wingers
The absence of a true attacking midfielder on the lineup could be a problem in some situations causing lack of creativity. Again, center midfielders would have to bring more to the game on the offensive end.
So what do you think Crew SC fans? Would you like to see any of these formations implemented? Or do you have another idea? Let us know in the comment section below.