Where Does Juan Fit In?
Yesterday, March 31st, Birmingham Legion FC announced the signing of former United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) star and MLS standout Juan Agudelo. Juan is a great who is world renown for his scoring ability and his uncanny ability to get into scoring positions.
52 goals as a professional and 23 USMNT Senior caps to his name, the talent is unreal. He’s been a major talent forever and “Revs South” gain another member. He joins Brian Wright, Zach Herivaux, Eric Avilla, Trevor Spangenberg, Coach Khano Smith, Coach Tommy Soehn, and President Jay Heaps, who all come to Birmingham from New England.
While 2 goals from 4 matches is not up to the normal scoring standard of the Birmingham Legion, there is a lot of attacking talent in The Magic City. Between Macky Diop, Edi Horvat, Marlon, and Prosper, our forward position should be completely sorted. The issue is somebody in the current XI gets dropped, but it feels like nobody truly deserves it. So, what do we do?
Possible Tactical Decisions
Let me start with that I do not envy being Coach Tommy Soehn right now. Whatsoever. Lets look at the last three formations for the 3 Sparks and figure out what we are working with.
So, we’ve gone 5-3-1-1, 5-3-2, and 4-2-3-1. What can we expect moving forward? Well, with the rumors of Freddy Kleemann’s major injury, the only true option we have right now is a 4 man backline. So let’s work off that basis first, then let’s try other experimental systems.
Frankly, this is my least favorite formation but also the most likely one we’ll see. Coach Tommy Soehn LOVES the 4-2-3-1. That’s Tommy-ball. I think the most simple solution is swapping out Edi/Macky for Juan and move forward, but let’s try and tweak this a little bit more and get the most out of Agudelo.
Now we’re cooking with gas. What I like about this is the use of a Shadow Striker, which would work VERY well in this system. Coach Soehn loves to work the ball into the box by pulling defenders toward the center forward (who is Juan in this system). The Shadow Striker (Horvat) now has the decision to either hold up play and pass the ball to our center forward or take a shot himself. This would get the most out of Edi, but maybe not Juan.
I also would like this system because it allows Anderson to focus on defensive abilities while allowing Enzo to get back into the attack. This also allows Bruno Lapa to dictate the attack, having the ability to choose between pushing the wings or the center of the park.
Lets get WEIRD. Okay, so this allows Dean and Lopez to get up into the attack more. It also allows Marlon, Prosper, and Enzo to move more freely in the midfield. This formation could easily be a 6 man backline with Anderson sitting in that center mid/center defensive mid role. I don’t like this one as much because we would be getting rid of Edi, but I like allowing Bruno to be farther up in the attack. He can move as far forward or back as he wants, which is great.
This is my favorite formation, but also the least likely. With playing a narrow midfield, I put our best central players in the middle and let Jonny and Mikey run wild. The major exclusion we see is Prosper, which feels insanely unfair considering his start to the season. There really isn’t a good answer here. I think allowing Enzo and Marlon to run on either side of Bruno gives the team a ton of flexibility to attack.
This formation gives our center backs more coverage with Anderson and Enzo sitting in the middle of the park. The major concern is conceding the wide areas, but in giving up wide areas and compressing the midfield, the only way to truly be beat is by the cross, which would take a true moment of magic to beat Kavita and Crognale in the air.
An Embarrassment of Offensive Riches
What makes this difficult is the amount of talented attackers this team has. Between Lapa, Martinez, Marlon, Prosper, Horvat, Diop, and now Agudelo, this team has so much talent on the offensive side of the ball. Somebody has to get dropped, unfortunately. A 6 man attack sounds amazing on paper, but that means you’ll lose a key part of our defense.
Again, I don’t envy Coach Soehn having to balance playing time, but as a Legion fan I am beyond excited to see the 18 as the season continues to roll on.