SuperDraft Tea Leaves

United picked up midfielder/defender Perry Kitchen, fullback Chris Korb, and goalkeeper Joe Willis in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. There are a number of points I'm curious about in relation to these picks, but the most interesting tactical talking point seems to be what Olsen's going to do with all those central midfielders...

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Boskovic, King, Kitchen, McCarty, Morsink, Shanosky, Simms, maybe even McTavish or Quaranta at a stretch. That's an awful lot of central mids, even given the expanded rosters this year. Granted, Kitchen and/or Shanosky might be destined for the back line (where we've already got James, Jakovic, White, and possibly Brasesco ahead in the pecking order) and Boskovic can play on the left wing, but you're still looking at a logjam of central midfielders.

Which raises the question: what kind of system is Olsen building towards?

Coaches' tactical decisions often fly in the face of who they were as players (helllloooo, Preki!), but Olsen seems to be assembling the kind of hustling, bustling lot he would have fit right in with. And one glance at that group of central mids reveals far more holding/defensive types than silky creators. So is it too early to make any assumptions? The logjam may just give way to a flurry of transfer activity, but I wonder...

I wonder if we're looking at a two-deep central midfield, either behind (1) a creative a-mid and a wide trident in attack [4-3-3/4-5-1 or (gasp!) the return of 3-5-2!], (2) three mobile a-mids beneath a single striker [4-2-3-1], (3) an a-mid and sole striker with two wide midfielders in line with the holders [4-4-1-1], or two creative wide mids and two forwards [the Bob Bradley 4-4-2 special]. Given the types of forwards we currently have at our disposal (and yes, I'll take it as given that we're not done shopping), I don't see any of the sole-striker shapes being that attractive. Combine that with Olsen's reliance on a 4-4-2 down the stretch last year, and I'm beginning to suspect something like the Bradley approach.

So what would it look like?

A stable core of six holding down the defensive fort—four on the back line behind two holding mids—and four fluid attackers that look to unsettle the defense through a combination of pressing and movement. The two wide attacking midfielders (Quaranta, Najar, Boskovic, maybe Pontius, Ngwenya, and Junior) start on the wing, but often drift infield beneath the strikers, allowing fullbacks to get forward and provide width. The mobile forwards can also offer width, dragging defenders out of position for the inside-out wide men to exploit. Though stronger on the counter, allowing one of the central holders to join the attack more often or tasking the fullbacks to get forward in support would provide more options in situations where we're dominating possession or chasing a game. 

Come to think of it, I'm reminded not just of Bradley's USA, but the current MLS Cup holders as well. 


1 comment:

  1. Goff says that we drafted Kitchen as a CB, but we had a logjam in the middle long before todays draft. Still not sure what the final product will bring, but when General Benny says be patient, than wait I shall...