The unsung heroes of United's latest victory?
The diamond has always been D.C. United's favored formation, with the 3-5-2 being a close second. We have heard coaches talk about how they want to bring back D.C. United's attractive, attacking brand of soccer and not conform to the MLS way. But at least on one night, with the team coming into the game on a poor run of form, the dreaded empty bucket worked. Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa were able to control the middle of the field, break up play, and allow United's creative players to bomb forward. The fullbacks, Chris Korb and Andy Najar, were free to get forward into the attack because they knew that they had four players protecting them, not just three. And for the particular strengths and weaknesses of this team, it may be the way to maximize its potential.
This upcoming game, against the Montreal Impact, will give us a clearer view of what Ben Olsen has planned for the rest of the season. Even though it worked so well, does he see the game against the Chicago Fire as a one off, necessitated by red cards? And, as always, what is the role of Branko Boskovic on this team? Some guesses on the answers to those questions below.
I may be too reactionary, but I think that Ben Olsen will go with the same lineup that we saw on Wednesday, with only the return of Emiliano Dudar changing it. The attacking prowess of this club comes from the wings, but they cannot get the ball when the center is overrun. Branko Boskovic and Dwayne De Rosario can distribute with the best players in MLS from the attacking midfield role, but they have to be able to actually get the ball to do so. Why not use the infamous double pivot so popular in the world game right now when United have the personal to do it well? With the way that DeRo plays, the term "empty bucket" it a misnomer: this 4-4-2 is very similar to the 4-2-3-1 played across the globe.
Now, obviously, I could be very wrong. Branko Boskovic could slot right back into the point of the diamond and it could go well. But D.C. United has been the victim of being too tactically rigid in the past, clinging to one formation even after the league figured it out. At least this season the team has the pieces to try something different. For the subs, I would see Joe Willis, Branko Boskovic, Hamdi Salihi, Lewis Neal, Long Tan, Dejan Jakovic, and Mike Chabala.
What do you all think? Am I crazy to think that Olsen might stick with the empty bucket?