If you asked anyone involved with Louisville City in the preseason about Head Coach James O'Connor's "system," you would've gotten the same response from just about anyone.
The O'Connor style of play was to be marked by two key characteristics: The use of a 4-2-3-1 formation and a high-pressure system. For the most part, O'Connor has stuck to that plan.
However, in the remarkable rain soaked turning-point that was the Royals' 3-3 draw at Saint Louis on May 24th, the world saw O'Connor step out of his own box and change formation.
"There were a lot of factors at play in St. Louis," the former Orlando City midfielder said. "The game potentially could be called. If the game does get called, then the result stands."
After a fairly even first half, which saw the King's Cup rivals match each other to the tune of a 1-1 score, Saint Louis took the lead over what was a sluggish Louisville side in the early minutes of the second half. Then, in a twist that has become a bit of a trademark at Louisville City games, a weather delay pushed both teams off the field and the matter of playing a full 90 minutes came into question.
"We approached that game where we needed to score and get level really quickly," O'Connor continued. "In my mind, if another thunder and lightning storm came in, and we're taken off the pitch, the likelihood was that we weren't going to continue."
The delay lasted about an hour, and during it O'Connor made a tactical switch to a two-striker formation, bringing on Orlando City loanee Sidney Rivera to play alongside leading goal-scorer Matt Fondy. From that point on, Louisville City hardly looked back. Save for a questionable penalty call in favor of Saint Louis, Louisville utterly dominated the game and out-shot their hosts 11-6 in the second half.
"In different situations you're required to do different things," said. O'Connor. "Great credit to the players, we were able to fight back and get a result."
The following match saw yet another formation change, this time going with a 4-3-3. Rivera got his first start, but Louisville City couldn't reach the back of the net. O'Connor's response? Bring Fondy off the bench and play both of his talented strikers together again, which led to Rivera's first goal and a 2-0 win.
All of this begs the question, should O'Connor abandon his preferred system that utilizes a lone striker to squeeze as much talent on the field as possible?
If he doesn't, Rivera thinks that competition for the spot can only help him and the team.
"He's playing. So there's always competition," the fourth-round SuperDraft pick said. "Competition is healthy in the team. It helps with form, and playing [games]. It's all part of it.
"For a young kid like me, rookie just getting out of school, I want to get experience. I want to play. I want to get games."