Back to the diamond formation? Real Salt Lake's Jason Kreis says it's "what we do"
SANDY, Utah — When Real Salt Lake faces the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium (10 pm ET; MLS Live), don't expect them to employ the same 4-3-3 formation they used against Toronto FC in their 1-0 win last Saturday north of the border.
It's not that they feel it didn't work. Obviously, it was good enough to give them their first-ever win in Canada. And at times, it looked like it could be pretty potent offensively. It is also not because the players didn't feel comfortable with it or enjoy playing in it.
"I like it," said the playmaker in the middle, Javier Morales, after training Tuesday. "I really like it because for me, it is better to press. You have two guys on the outside pretty high and they can press the right back, left back, so I think it can be better for us."
Yordany Álvarez, who scored his first career MLS goal while manning an outside midfield position, something a little different than his usual holding or defensive midfield position, echoed Morales.
"I like the diamond, too," the Cuban said, "but I'm here to play, and anywhere the coach wants to put me, I am ready to play there."
With the way the RSL forwards have been playing lately, it isn't a bad thing to try and get three of them out on the pitch at the same time, either.
But at the same time, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies. RSL have shot to the top of the table primarily playing their traditional diamond midfield. Head coach Jason Kreis says that's not going to change.
"It's a home game. We are going to be focused on what we do," said Kreis.
And what RSL still do best is the diamond, which has become synonymous with the team under Kreis as they've made the playoffs for five straight seasons — the longest streak in the league. And it's been particularly potent this season as an influx of young attacking talent has taken to the formation.
Devon Sandoval, Joao Plata and Olmes García have all thrived at forward, sometimes together and sometimes playing off of veterans Álvaro Saborío or Robbie Findley. The midfield behind them is playing their best soccer since early 2011.
So in spite of the win over TFC, it would be a shock if RSL didn't revert back to the diamond against the Union. Which is not to say the 4-3-3 is gone forever.
"I think it was good," said Kreis to reporters following training on Tuesday. "I don't think it was great, but it wasn't bad either. I think it is something we are going to look at going forward."
Just not yet.