PORTLAND, Ore. – While the move to a 4-4-2 formation is something that Schellas Hyndman is committed to, the Dallas coach knew something had to change after Sunday’s 0-0 draw with AIK at the Portland Preseason Tournament.
Despite the shutout, his team struggled to hold any meaningful possession against the Swedish side playing a diamond 4-4-2 formation that left huge gaps in the center of midfield.
“The game is the best teacher,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com after Wednesday’s win over Portland. “What happened the other day against AIK is we gave up 27 counterattack opportunities which meant that we didn’t have enough in the center of the field.
“We talk about a diamond and it all looks great on the whiteboard, but once it gets on the field in moving parts, it doesn’t always look the same.”
In an effort to improve that, Hyndman did something he’s rarely done as FCD coach and moved star man David Ferreira from his customary central attacking midfield position out to the left wing in a more flat 4-4-2. The move paid immediate dividends as Dallas seemed much more comfortable on Wednesday in a 1-0 win over Portland.
“We felt like we needed more ball winners and of course we’ve got to keep David on the field,” said Hyndman. “Either we go back with one striker or we try to find a way to keep him on the field and still add something in the center. The decision was to put him on the left and to give him some freedom so he can still be a playmaker for us.”
Throughout the match, Ferreira glided around the wing while still cutting centrally, much like Mauro Rosales has done in Seattle. While the formation is still very much a work in progress, the move of Ferreira to the wing could be an excellent bit of tinkering that allows FCD to keep their talisman on the pitch while retaining two strikers and a more defensively sound two-man central midfield.
“It’s the first time we’ve played [the formation], but soccer players know the game and just because you’re playing a new position doesn’t mean that you don’t understand the principles of the game,” said Hyndman. “I thought Bobby [Warshaw] and [Andrew Jacobson] did very well. They were ball winners and aggressive, they worked off each other.”
And if there were any thoughts that Ferreira would perhaps be annoyed at his potential new position, think again.
“I don’t feel strange at the position because I’ve played it before,” Ferreira told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “It’s going to take me a little bit, but I’m very comfortable with that position too.
“I have always said the most important part is the team, whatever the coach decides, I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.”