The departure of head coach Jason Kreis unfolded some changes on Orlando City SC and one of them happened in the team’s formation. Since Bobby Murphy took over as the interim head coach, the Lions have been playing in a 3-4-3 system, a very different shape than the one adopted by the former gaffer.
The new formation has been a mixed bag so far, as Orlando managed to advance in the U.S. Open Cup playing under it against D.C. United, but has also been taken down by the Montreal Impact at home just a few days later.
As any system, the 3-4-3 has its positive aspects and its negative outcomes and it’ll be up to the team’s next coach to determine if the system will remain in use or not in the near future.
Here are three of each:
Better Defensive Coverage
With three center backs on the field, the Lions get better protection in their penalty area. The extra body on the back line can be very useful to defend aerial threats and with three players who will rarely cross the midfield line, it’s very unlikely that the team will be outnumbered in counter attacks as well.
More Freedom for Fullbacks
Having three players in the back also impacts the team’s fullbacks, who are actually converted into wingbacks in the new system. Orlando has a pair of offensive-minded fullbacks in Scott Sutter and Mohamed El-Munir on its roster and both of them can certainly benefit from a formation in which they are asked to help more offensively than defensively.
Wings Closer to Dwyer
With wingbacks pushing forward, those playing left and right wing on the forward line don’t need to be always out wide and that makes them play in more of a central position, closer to striker Dom Dwyer, who at times seemed to be isolated in the penalty box. Justin Meram on the left, and Josué Colmán or Chris Mueller on the right can either combine with Dwyer around the box or do the same with El-Munir and Sutter on the flanks, providing the Lions more offensive versatility.
Limited Numbers in Midfield
To have three players on the back line, one body was taken from the midfield line and it could be costly at times. Orlando could struggle against an opponent with solid presence in the midfield, especially with Sacha Kljestan being one of the players in the four-man line. As talented as he is, the veteran is not dynamic and whoever is playing by his side will often be overloaded, having to cover a lot of ground in the center of the field.
Struggles to Build Out of the Back
Despite adding one defender, the system can be ineffective for teams that want to build out of the back. Typically, the team’s defensive midfielder would be tasked with that, but having just one player to move the ball wisely up field from the back line could be insufficient at times. Dropping Kljestan deeper is an alternative, but wasting his talent in a spot so distant from the opponent’s box is a shame.
No Obvious Spot for Yotún
Orlando City’s lone representative in the FIFA World Cup, Yoshimar Yotún might return soon to the club after Peru’s early elimination, but there’s not an obvious spot for him in this system. A versatile player, Yoshi could be used in the central position of the four-man line, but considering he’s not a typical stay-at-home defensive midfielder, that would put Kljestan as the odd man out, which is not realistic or ideal. He could play on the left in a wingback role in place of El-Munir; however, he is more dangerous as a play-maker when working up the middle of the pitch.