In nearly every game of the 2009 season, Chivas USA played in a 4-4-2 formation. Four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers seemed to be then head coach Preki’s cup of tea.
This year, however, discerning the Red-and-White’s go-to formation has been difficult, primarily because the team has yet to decide on one.
Chivas USA have experimented with a number of different lineups in both practices and games so far in 2010, and the team will likely continue tinkering with its formation over the course of the next few weeks.
“We have to look at our best XI,” said current head coach Martín Vásquez. “If it’s playing with five defenders, four midfielders and one forward, we’ll do that. If we play with five midfielders, four defenders and one forward, then we’ll do that, and try to get numbers forward in the box. The main thing is that you are looking for the best XI to get a good result."
While nailing down a solid formation may be a big step in the right direction for many teams, Chivas USA are happy to be versatile in their approach to on-field lineups.
“It’s good that we know how to play in a 4-5-1, a 4-4-2, a 4-2-3-1 or whatever else we may be asked,” said Jonathan Bornstein. “With soccer, it’s constantly changing. The game might ask for something else. So it’s good to work on our formations so that if the game calls on it, you’re able to switch on the fly.”
Bornstein has been an important part of Chivas USA’s shifting formations so far in 2010. The Red-and-White co-captain has already spent minutes at center back and left back, and was most recently at left midfield for the game against New York.
“They moved me up for the 4-4-2 formation, and my role was to attack and create,” said Bornstein. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do it for very long, but I thought that at least I set the right tone for the other players and continue to do that a lot more.”
Bornstein’s time in the midfield was cut short by a knee injury to left back Ante Jazic in the 39th minute. Jazic’s injury, combined with the arrival of natural center back Darío Delgado, will likely push Bornstein back into the left-back position for a while, a move about which he is excited.
“It will be good to get back at left back,” he said. “That’s where I’ve been playing with the national team and it will be good to get back at that position and hone those skills.”
As Chivas USA prepare to face Houston on Saturday, the team’s formation is still shrouded in mystery.
“We have to look at the best thing that we can put out on the field against Houston,” said Vásquez. “Playing away is different than playing at home. You have to consider what kind of key players they have, what kind of formation they use, and how they compete.”
No matter how the Red-and-White line up against the Dynamo, one thing is certain: the Goats will be ready to fight on Saturday.
“You have to go in there expecting it to be a rough game,” said Bornstein of the match. “They’re one of those teams that, when they play at home, they’re physical. They’ve always been pretty good at home over the number of years that I’ve been in the league.”