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Formation Dreaming Part 3: 3-2-2-3

It worked for Patrick Vieira...

MLS: D.C. United at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The night is always darkest until the dawn, and I promise you with the upcoming schedule, dawn is coming. This will be the third and final analysis of alternative formations that Atlanta United might roll out due to needing to rotate players or to make changes due to suspensions. Last time we talked about the 4-4-2 diamond, a challenging but not unfeasible lineup for Atlanta United to play. For this throwback Thursday, we’re going to look at an oldie but a goodie the W-M aka the 3-4-3 aka the 3-2-2-3.

For this match, let’s suppose that Atlanta is going to go on the road to New England on September 30. They’ll be coming off of a midweek game against an opponent the team should beat with another home game on October 3 against Minnesota United before an international break. This scenario assumes that Atlanta has taken care of business during their home stand, has some players back healthy, and can afford to look for a draw away to the Revs.

Here’s how I think it might look:

Some old faces make it back from injury and this could just work. There’s going to be a fair bit of the half-backs (that’d be Carmona and McCann) in this formation pushing up to support the inside forwards (or Kratz and Gressel) in attack. Without the ball, Kratz and Gressel will be falling back to support the half-backs and backline.

Save your wrath for comments, but hear me out:

  • Element of surprise: As well regarded as I am as a blogger, I doubt that Jay Heaps reads this blog, New England won’t see it coming.
  • The WM is effective at bottling up play in midfield and New England might be a mess in defense, but can be dangerous with possession, this breaks up their possession.
  • The formation can quickly transition from defense to attack when Atlanta wins the ball and looks to get behind the New England attack.
  • The team will need rest, the midfield isn’t the deepest so Carmona will be pressed into action at least to start the game.
  • With both Jones and Vazquez in the game, United should be able to get more physical play in the box if the game devolves into a CONCACAF style mess.

Why it’s good

This is the only road game between now and October 3 which will begin a 12 day break for the team. United needs to put as much energy as it can into winning the home matches during that stretch and this will be a good time to rest some starters before Minnesota comes to town before the break. It is also a versatile formation, Atlanta can hang back and absorb pressure rather than play to exhaustion while pressing New England. The formation offers three forwards with two big physical players who could cause matchup problems for the Revs also.

Why it’s bad

Any lineup that is tailored around the attributes of Mix Diskerud is probably not ideal for Atlanta United. The WM makes teams susceptible to being overwhelmed in the midfield and in defense when teams push forward. This might not be ideal against a team like New England who basically seems to forgo defensive concerns and play upwards of five forwards on the field at one time. It also requires a substitution if Tata decides he wants to switch to a four man backline as there isn’t anyone on the field who would naturally convert to a fourth defender.

Get the conversation going in the comments. Could Atlanta pull off a WM? Would this just lead to a shoot out and should United be trying to play that style of game? At any point in the match would Alec Kann be forced to stop chewing his gum?