It’s only been a few games with the 3-5-2 formation but the results have been fairly good for Minnesota United FC. The Loons looked okay in a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas but were haunted by poor finishing. However, that wasn’t a problem in an emphatic 4-3 win over Toronto FC. The game was highlighted by Colombian designated playmaker Darwin Quintero tallying the first hat trick in club history. These are a couple thoughts on the new formation.
A Look at the New Minnesota United 3-5-2 Formation
Covers up the Hole Left by Having No True Holding Midfielder
One of the reasons for the Loons struggles this season is the lack of a true holding midfielder. According to mlssoccer.com, Minnesota United has had trouble defending the area in front of the center-backs, which is where a holding mid usually operates. Sam Cronin filled the role well last season but has been out indefinitely with concussion symptoms. Rasmus Schuller has come in and helped in the area but some believe he is better suited in a box-to-box role.
The 3-5-2 formation puts more bodies in the middle of the park and helps cover the area in front of the central defense. Over these last two games, it appeared that the opposing team has had less room to operate in front of the defense than in previous games. This doesn’t eliminate the problem of not having a true holding midfielder but it helps cover it up.
Allows Darwin Quintero to Run Off Christian Ramirez up Top
This was a lot more evident against TFC than it was against Dallas but the point still stands. Some have thought Ramirez would be best utilized with a partner up top. His hold- up play and intelligent runs would pair well with a partner. MNUFC seems to have discovered that partner in Quintero. He was undoubtedly the hero of the Toronto game with his amazing hat-trick, but Ramirez also deserves some credit for the win. He held up the ball well and his runs occupied defenders and space, which allowed Darwin room to shine. The MNUFC looked as dangerous the last two games with this partnership up top then it has in a while.
Five-Man Midfield Provides Better Connection Between Defense and Attack
One of the observations with the new formation change is that it seems with the five-man midfield the offense and the defensive end are now more connected than before. Earlier in the season when Minnesota had a bad spell of play it was often because they were stuck defending and were unable to transition to offense and earn some possession. The 3-5-2 allows them to transition between the two phases of the game more easily. During the Toronto game, there was often a midfielder to receive a pass from one of the center backs and start the attack.
Also, during the Toronto game, the defense was laying a higher line than they usually do. This allowed Fransisco Calvo to find Ibarra’s run that led to his goal. If the line was farther back, Calvo may not have seen that run. Furthermore, the high line allowed the defenders to link up with the midfield more easily instead of playing long balls out to them.
Is This Just a Phase?
It may be a small sample size but the 3-5-2 formation fits the Loons well so far. It will be interesting to see if Adrian Heath sticks with the formation in the long run and how it possibly affects the personnel decisions the club makes in the future.