They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, but if you're a Vancouver Whitecaps fan, you've got to be feeling pretty good about them, too, after Wednesday's 4-1 thumping of the Seattle Sounders.
With his side struggling in recent times, head coach Martin Rennie has scrapped his 4-3-3 over the past two matches in favor of a diamond midfield formation.
While it showed promise in a 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers on October 6, in Wednesday's comprehensive 4-1 win over their Cascadia cousins, the potency of that structure was on full display.
For a squad lacking much in the way of out-and-out wingers, it's a look that makes sense. The shape is quite narrow, with Jun Marques Davidson holding in front of the back four, and Matt Watson and Nigel Reo-Coker playing in the middle of the park.
Daigo Kobayashi, the Japanese playmaker, is allowed a bit more freedom at the tip of the diamond, tucking in behind the strikers.
“For the team, with the players that we have and the individual ability that the players have, it's worked out well for us,” Reo-Coker said this week, praising Kobayashi as a No. 10. “With the likes of Matty, myself, [Gershon] Koffie, Jun – it complements all the players we have. It suits us.”
Both Watson and Reo-Coker have good engines and can cover the flanks defensively, while fullbacks Jordan Harvey and Lee Young-Pyo are capable of contributing offensively. Lee in particular has benefited – he's claimed assists in each of the two games since the switch.
“I think we've played a lot better,” Rennie said of how the diamond formation has functioned so far. “Our possession has been a lot better. We've looked a lot more dynamic in midfield and it's hard for teams to adjust to, so I think it's helped us a lot.”
Asked whether he regrets not experimenting with that formation earlier this season, the Scottish tactician didn't hesitate with his response.
“No, not at all,” Rennie said.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.