With the 2010 MLS playoffs upon us, Steve Davis takes a look at the tactics used by the top seeded teams.
Let's take a look at the four seeded teams — those that will finish first and second in their respective conferences. Next week we'll handle the rest.
Hint: The 4-4-2 will dominate the postseason, with two slight dissenters.
LA Galaxy: Personnel options aplenty
As far back as a decade ago, some soccer insiders began regarding the diamond-shaped midfield as passé. Never mind that Dominic Kinnear won two league titles using a midfield diamond, and that Real Salt Lake won using a diamond as the basic shape (even if it was just a loose starting point for Jason Kreis’ side).
Galaxy manager Bruce Arena loves his diamond, too. In his case, the basic shape is less predictable because he has abundant options. David Beckham has mostly played along the right but also in the middle. Brazilian midfielder Juninho has generally been on top of the diamond, but lined up once as a defensive anchor.
And there’s the weekly Landon Donovan decision: Where to station MLS’ reigning MVP? Last weekend it was as a withdrawn striker, tucked in behind Edson Buddle. But he’s mostly been a wide midfielder this year.
If a looming first-round matchup with Seattle comes true, would Donovan still be on the outside, where he would have to spend significant energy chasing the Sounders’ fleet wingers?