MLS is Back: Talking tournament tactics – Eastern Conference

MLS, Toronto FC, Alejandro Pozuelo (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
MLS, Toronto FC, Alejandro Pozuelo (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Montreal Impact, Thierry Henry
MLS’ Montreal Impact coach Thierry Henry instructs his players during their CONCACAF Champions League match against Deportivo Saprissa at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in San Jose, on February 19, 2020. (Photo by John DURAN / AFP) (Photo by JOHN DURAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

Inter Miami

Expected formation: Manager Diego Alonso lined up Inter Miami in a 4-2-3-1 against LAFC in their opening match. In their second match against D.C. United, Miami seemingly transitioned between that 4-2-3-1 and a 3-4-3. Left-back Ben Sweat pushed up into midfield in the attack to help fortify the midfield going forward.

Team style: During his time in Liga MX, Alonso used a high-pressing system with Pachuca but relaxed that intensity with Monterrey. There were hints of a high press with Miami during their first two matches, but it wasn’t the main focus from a stylistic perspective. Look for the attack to funnel through attacking midfielder Rodolfo Pizzaro.

Potential success/failure: Miami will be successful if they stay organized defensively. They held on against LAFC with only a world-class Carlos Vela chip making the difference. Against D.C. the defense played well again until a red card forced Miami to play most of the second half down a man. As for their potential failure, Miami have a tough task on their hands as an expansion team. There is a lack of team chemistry. They have talent, but that will make winning a tournament very difficult.

Montreal Impact

Expected formation: Before the shutdown, manager Thierry Henry managed five games with his new Montreal Impact. In each of those five games, Montreal played with three center-backs. The Impact essentially played in a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 and will probably continue with those formations in Florida.

Team style: The Impact, whose roster is all over the place, want nothing to do with the ball. Their average possession through their first fives games was just 46%, including two games under 30%. They are content with sitting back and hitting the opposition on the counter and staying organized defensively.

Potential success/failure: All of Montreal’s success rides on just how structured they can remain. If they sit back, bunker, and frustrate their opponents, they may just find themselves advancing past the group stage. If they concede cheaply, they will struggle to outscore opponents. Their attacking pieces are relatively unproven compared to most teams with proven DPs around the league, but with an industrious central midfield and well-structured defense they could yet make some noise.