MLS Match Preview: Schmid, Sounders FC Finally Finding Their Shape
The tactical approach for the Seattle Sounders FC was a very hot topic during the offseason. Seattle struggled when it came to finding their identity after the acquisition of Clint Dempsey dropping from a Supporters’ Shield contender to just scratching into postseason.
The main talk had been about the diamond midfield 4-4-2 formation which was attempted towards the end of last season with Dempsey at the top of the diamond, Osvaldo Alonso on the bottom with Mauro Rosales and Brad Evans as the outside tips of the diamond. This would be the most effective use for Dempsey other than just starting him at one of the forward positions; he will attract the attention of the defense freeing up space for the forwards and other midfielders to exploit.
Seattle faithful knew that Dempsey would not be starting their opener against Sporting Kansas City last week after already having played two full games in the previous six days. What the fans did not know was that Sigi Schmid had a different tactical approach.
The lineup was announced as a 4-4-2 giving the impression that the diamond midfield would be how the Sounders were going to proceed with their attack. After the kickoff though, the formation morphed into a 4-2-3-1. Obafemi Martins played in the lone forward position with Kenny Cooper playing in the attacking midfield/withdrawn forward position. Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle flanked Cooper with Alonso and Evans playing centrally.
The shape did not change when Dempsey was subbed on for Pappa in the 57th minute either. Dempsey assumed the withdrawn forward role while Cooper shifted out to the left side to fill the space vacated by Pappa.
What will be interesting to see is how Kenny Cooper is utilized for the rest of the season. Martins is the main man up top and with Dempsey in the center, it will force Cooper to play on the outside which may not be as bad as it seems. He will likely line up on the right side ahead of DeAndre Yedlin, who has been given more freedom to press forward into the attack. Pappa is the playmaker on the left side and he’ll have a big target to look for crashing at the back post in Cooper who stands 6-foot-3.
Why would Seattle bring in an expensive forward just to play on the wing? When the attack comes down the left side through Marco Pappa, Martins will look to make a diagonal front post run to try to bring the weak-side center-back with him across the face of goal. This effectively should leave some open space on the back post with Cooper matched up on a smaller left back which will increase his chances of getting a decent scoring look.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Yedlin — Chad Marshall — Djimi Traore — Dylan Remick
Evans — Alonso
Cooper — Dempsey — Pappa
We will get our second look at the Sounders FC tactics when they host Michael Bradley and Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. The match can be seen nationally in the United States on NBC SN, in Canada on TSN and locally on Q13 Fox.
This will be the ninth meeting between the two clubs all-time with the Sounders holding a 6-1-1 record; Toronto FC has never won at CenturyLink Field in four previous trips.