Hmmmm... (again) a very disappointing run of play in the first half in our last game and (again) a much more creative tactical adjustment opening the second half.
If you were keeping track you know we had twice as many crosses in the second half against Chivas than we did in the first half.
So, that is two games on the trot now where GW's tactical adjustment in the second half has given us better opportunities. In this game we need to see that adjustment (before) we start the first half.
Working from that, here's my What To Watch For with our game against FC Dallas.
Left Wing: I promised myself I would begin to track more closely the run of play down our left wing versus our right wing; I will begin to do that this game. I have in the past tracked crosses from both sides but I have not kept track of where the opposition looks to push pressure; I will attempt to do that for this game and provide some analysis back on how that went.
Back-four: Staying tight and working for good position as a defender against the opposing player to minimize loss of 1-v-1 battles in our defending third. I will attempt to track more closely how effective our rotations are from within the back four as well as our reverse overlapping; I have not previously focused on 'rotations' but will pay a bit more attention to that this game.
Central Midfield: IMHO it is "now" time to give Eric Alexander and Diego Chara a run at controlling the central midfield area with Kalif Alhassan in the middle of the (3) to triangulate with Chara and Alexander and then Franck Songo'o on the left with Darlington Nagbe on the right. This work to our strengths in defense as well as attack. For me this probably best describes what I would call making a second half tactical adjustment before the first half starts. I would also offer that lining up Songo'o with Steve Smith or Mike Chabala suits nicely with their combined strengths and weaknesses while lining up Darlington Nagbe with Kosuke Kimura suits that side nicely working with their combined strengths and weaknesses.
Kris Boyd: As a target alone up top... I will be watching for the number and type of 'through balls at Kris Boyd's feet this game' as opposed to long balls directed to his head. Kris Boyd has pedigree and skill and a great first touch... but not in the air... the strength of Kris Boyd is best served with a ball to his feet.
System of Play: The players I named up top were tagged for specific positions based upon the idea that we are again going to open up with a derived 4-5-1 (4-2-3-1). The odd thing is is that this lineup is a defensive lineup and yet we gave up five goals to LAG using it, 3 goals to RSL using it and 1 goal to a team that has scored the fewest goals this year in MLS.
So maybe there is some other logic in running out there in a 4-4-2 (front to back) formation? If we do that then our two central midfielders can remain the same, only KAH rotates out to the right wing and Nagbe rolls up top to pair with Boyd.
If we decide to run a diamond 4-4-2 then I would offer our front six stay exactly the same as the box-to-box 4-4-2... That would make for an interesting system if we could run a diamond and/or front to back (4-4-2) with the same players...
Here's my starting 11 in no particular order... Kris Boyd, Diego Chara, Kalif Ahlhassan, Eric Alexander, Franck Songo'o and Darlington Nagbe, Mike Chabala, Futty Danso, Hanyer Mosquera, Kosuke Kimura and MR. Perkins. It is time, IMHO, to give the Captains armband to Kris Boyd; he plays with fire and he is by far and away the most experienced player on this team and he does know how to win given his pedigree and track record.
In closing I would offer that this game is almost an absolute must win when considering whether or not the goal of 45 points is attainable. If we can't beat this team then, for me, the playing of the younger players should become the first if not second highest priority for this team moving forward.
A take-away question for the wolves to feed on... what would our 4-2-3-1 play like with Diego Chara playing in the center of the (3) and Franck Songo'o and Eric Alexander running the central midfield (2) together? Would that keep us solid in the back two and give us (maybe?) some much greater aggressive 1-v-1 possession battles in our attacking half of the pitch?
Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.