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Revisiting Orlando City’s Formation Possibilities for 2018

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So many options, so little time.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, Orlando City SC has signed quite a few players in the past few weeks. Which is to be expected, considering all the players from last season that moved on. But, with the excitement that comes with new signings also comes questions — namely, what kind of formations we might see the team run over the course of the coming season. We’ve talked about this before, but the club has added some key pieces since then in Justin Meram and Uri Rosell. Obviously, there’s a good amount of options out there so let’s take a look at a few of the possibilities.

4-2-3-1

This is probably one of (if not the best) options as the squad currently stands. Given that there’s still a lack of bodies and talent at center back, two men shielding the heart of the back line probably isn’t a bad idea. Sacha Kljestan and Rosell could occupy those two spots in defensive midfield, with Yoshi Yotún being another option as he’s been deployed there at times for the Peruvian national team. Yoshi playing deep would then see Kljestan pushed up higher into the No. 10 role he often fulfilled for the New York Red Bulls. Either way, three midfielders deployed further up the field would allow the team to put Meram, Yotún, and Josué Colmán all on the field at the same time; which is probably a good idea considering the attacking potential that would give the Lions. Dom Dwyer would be the presumed starter up top and the back four could see Mohamed El-Munir and Scott Sutter at fullback with Jonathan Spector a lock at center back without a clear partner next to him as of yet.

4-4-2

While not my top choice, this setup isn’t the worst option out there. The main problem with it is that it offers less cover for the center backs, which is an important issue, at least with the team’s current roster. That could then mean that Stefano Pinho would partner with Dwyer up top. Another thing to remember is that playing this particular formation would mean that one of Rosell or Kljestan wouldn’t be on the field, as playing two strikers would equate to one less midfielder. A possible work around would be moving Meram up top next to Dwyer, a position Meram played from time to time during his days with Columbus. Then bring Rosell or Kljestan back into center midfield. While I don’t consider this as strong of a formation as a 4-2-3-1, it’s something the team could certainly switch to when chasing a game by pushing two strikers up the field to apply more pressure on the opposing team’s back line. It also allows Dwyer to hold up play as Meram works off of him.

4-3-3

As the roster situation currently stands, I think this would be a pretty risky option to start a game with. With only one man in central midfield, the center backs need to be two very trustworthy ones, which the Lions don’t necessarily have right now. However, much like the 4-4-2, this is an option that the team could switch to when trailing, with Meram and Colmán pushing up to either side of Dwyer to form the front three. It’s certainly a very attack-minded option, but also leaves potential for some worrying moments at the back.

3-5-2

This option is geared very much towards attacking and overwhelming opponents in the midfield, all while providing width through the two wing backs. It can make for some very exciting soccer and can be difficult to deal with when executed well. However, the most important thing when playing a 3-5-2 is three skilled and well-drilled center backs who are also comfortable both passing and carrying the ball out from the back. Once again, as things currently stand that just isn’t the case for this team as of now. New signings at center back, or current players developing over time, might change that. But right now, running a 3-5-2 would probably be akin to driving around with a cobra in the passenger seat of your car: It’s a thrilling ride, but there’s a lot of potential for you to get bit in the ass. A possible lineup if a 3-5-2 was run with the current roster might see Spector, Aja, and (Sutter? Toia? Possibly PC?) in the back three, Colmán and Yotún as the wing backs, and Rosell, Kljestan, and Meram in the midfield roles, and Dwyer and Pinho up top. Obviously there’s other potential ways a 3-5-2 could be fielded but you get the idea.

Clearly these aren’t the only possible formations the team could run, a 4-5-1 comes to mind, or alternatively a 1-8-1 if you go in for the more jokey side of things. But, if I were to talk on every possibility under the sun we’d be here for ages and I’d see a whole lifetime of possibility come to a young and untimely end. So, that’s where I’ll leave it for today, but by all means if you have any thoughts on how you’d like to see the team set up this season, don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comments. Have a stupendous day. Ciao.