Friday, May 14, 2010

Crew Tactical Breakdown: What to Look for Against Chivas


The Crew will most likely line  up in their standard 4-4-1-1 on Saturday night, with Rogers and Gaven on the wings, and Padula and Hejduk as the outside backs.  Iro, Marshall or O'Rourke will start as one of the center backs opposite Brunner.  And look for Carroll and Moffatt to play as the holding center-mids.

In this formation, GBS plays rather high, which has been the subject of some discussion in the Crew blogosphere.  The argument is that Guillermo is better utilized as a more traditional number 10, roaming the center which allows him to create more.  In such a formation, the Crew would most likely go to a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2-- in the latter they'd need to go with two forwards or a forward and striker combo: Lenhart and Ekpo, for example, or Lenhart and Gaven, or Lenhart and Garey.

However, as the next graphic shows, even in RW's present schema, Schelotto is still being used as a creator.  Most importantly, the Crew's attack is a little more complicated and (we think) more dynamic and thus more difficult to defend.

In the graphic to the right, you see the Crew in the attack phase. The graphic represents what the club was trying to do last Saturday against New England and can be considered RW's basic approach on attack, at least with these players.

Notice that in this particular version of the Crew's 4-4-1-1, either Padula or Hejduk pushes up, in this case we'll push up Padula.  But the left back is not merely crashing down the wing.  Rather, in this scenario, the Crew is really playing a 3-2-3-2 or some might call it a 3-2-4-1. Regardless, the system is designed to get the left or right back to work with the holding mids, the wing AND the number 10, creating multiple passing possibilities and thus maintaining possession.  All the while, they are building up the attack gradually, looking to get Rogers and Lenhart to angle in on the box and finish, with both Padula and Schelotto providing service.

As you can see, the interaction among the back, the mids, the "10" and the wing creates multiple and dynamic passing combinations, and can easily be shifted to the opposite wing with the right back (Hejduk) moving forward instead of the left.

Note also how this approach allows the team to get 5 players forward and that GBS is still in a central position.  Further, if a run takes Rogers over to the right, Gaven and GBS can rotate left.  Finally, Carroll and Moffatt are in a position to both support the attack and to drop back in front of the back three if the Crew lose possession.

Three things to take away from last week's game in light of the above analysis.

First, the striker absolutely must finish efficiently for the formation to produce goals.  Lenhart did not do so last week in spite of some excellent service from both GBS and the wings.  Overall, Lenhart has converted 40% of his SHTS to SOGs, but has scored only 1 goal in 4 SOG total or 25%.  That's average for the league overall and below average for forwards.  Perhaps last week was on off night.  But maybe RW should start Ekpo up top instead of the big blond..

Second, the Crew looked vulnerable on the counter-attack last week, and so the two central mids have to be fast enough to respond quickly when the team is forced to defend.

Finally, this approach leaves the Crew with only a three-man back line.  If the team can delay up high and thus allow players to get back and defend as a unit, this is not so dangerous.  But make no mistake, this is an attacking formation that relies on possession and a quick retreat by the mids and the attacking back(s)  to insure the opposing team doesn't overwhelm the three defenders.

Chivas has played a 4-2-3-1 its last two matches, and RWs back line will need to be sharp, even at home, if the Crew hopes to avoid another see-saw match against a lesser club. It will be interesting to see if the combination of Chivas' two mids in the 4-2-3-1 and the Crew's attacking 3-2-3-2 creates space in the middle of the field and thus a lot of movement and wide open play.

Our prediction? Look for the Crew to continue to gel as they get more games under their belt and for Chivas to give up 2 goals at least.  Note that historically Chivas does not draw very often.  Final score 2-0 Crew.  Massive. Hagado C-Bus.

No comments: