After watching my beloved Philadelphia Union throw away some more points on Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake, it dawned on me that Piotr Nowak is trying to utilize a 4-2-2-2 formation. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the setup. It worked to devastating effect for Real Madrid last season in La Liga and had it not been for Los Blancos facing the greatest club team in the history of the world, their record points total would have been more than enough to take the title. The biggest problem with the Union employing the same tactic is that, well, they’re not Real Madrid. MLS players need more discipline than that particular free-flowing shape can provide.
On Wednesday, the Union lined up with Harvey, Gonzalez, Califf, and Orozco in the back. In front of the flat four is the two holding midfielder setup we’ve utilized for nearly the entire season. Against RSL, it was Coudet and Nakazawa. Traditionally it’s been Miglioranzi. In front of the two holders stood Fred and newly acquired Justin Mapp. And in front of those two the forwards- Danny Mwanga and the two-thirds season MVP, Sebastien LeToux. The personnel is not necessarily the problem, though I’ll address that in a bit. The problem, as galling as the green and blue MLS paint on the side of PPL Park, is the lack of natural width. This has been plaguing the team all season and has been further exacerbated by the untimely injury to Shea Salinas, one of the few pure wingers the team has on its books.