Peter Vermes - Sporting Kansas City - gestures on the sideline
USA Today Sports

Polak: Breaking down the top coaching moves from Week 9

Peter Vermes had his side prepared as Sporting Kansas City executed their game plan amidst a dominant 3-0 performance against Real Salt Lake. Sporting KC looked to keep at least two attackers even with the last Real Salt Lake defender while they simultaneously tried to disrupt RSL’s defensive shape.

Using this approach, it took SKC only 17 minutes to get their first goal. Seen in the moment below, SKC’s movement and two forwards forced RSL’s back four to become a back six. With only one RSL midfielder available to cover all the space in front those six players, Benny Feilhaber had ample time to shoot and score from just outside the box.

Roman Torres: Striker

Down 3-1 in the 84th minute to the New England Revolution, Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer called on center back Roman Torres to enter the match at striker. The game ended 3-3.

Though Torres did not directly factor into either of Seattle’s late goals, he was still instrumental in the Sounders' comeback.

The Panamanian international’s impact was twofold. First, he used his energy to apply extra pressure on an already-tired New England side. Second, he spent almost his entire time on the field around New England’s goal as an additional target for Seattle crosses. Keeping Torres high up the field allowed Seattle to pin New England in their own half and create enough opportunities to find two late goals.

D.C. counter

D.C. United went down to Atlanta on Sunday, beating the home side 3-1, and it is not an exaggeration to suggest D.C. head coach Ben Olsen’s adjustment after the first 45 minutes won his side the game.

In an interview at halftime, Olsen discussed how D.C. could turn Atlanta’s strength into a weakness, saying the following: “The numbers they’re throwing are very aggressive, but you see on the other side [that] the counter is on...and I think the counter will continue to be on as they push more numbers forward.” Olsen said. "In transition you are a pass or two away, with [Atlanta’s] aggression, of being on a counterattack.”

Shifting his team’s mentality for the second half, Olsen’s side did exactly as he suggested in he 55th minute. Seen below, D.C. exposed Atlanta with just two passes to seal the game with their third goal. 

Helping Joao Pedro

Giving up nine goals in their previous four matches, LA Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo and his staff made a necessary decision to step away from their 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1) and give another formation a chance.

Playing more of a 4-2-3-1 with the insertion of Baggio Husidic, the defensively-focused central midfielders made a huge difference against the Philadelphia Union as LA kept a clean sheet over the weekend for the second time this season.

The change in formation was particularly beneficial for Joao Pedro, one of the Galaxy’s new signings this year, who is at his best when he is able to prioritize defending and join the attack from a deeper position.

Joao Pedro had his best game this season in this new setup. He had three tackles along with an interception and a clearance, while also clogging up central passing lanes for Philadelphia.

Vancouver's 4-1-4-1

Vancouver Whitecaps FC have tried a number of formations this season but they might have found something in their 2-1 loss at the Portland Timbers last week. Head coach Carl Robinson had his team playing in a 4-1-4-1 and he decided to stick with it this week as the Whitecaps beat the Montreal Impact on the road 2-1.

Matias Laba provided protection in front of the four backs as the lone defensive midfielder. As a result Tony Tchani and Andrew Jacobson, the central midfielders in the second bank of four, played higher up the field without Vancouver sacrificing much defensively.

Vancouver’s first goal did come off a free kick, but Montreal was forced to commit that foul because of a great defensive play from Laba that led to an opportunity for Vancouver to find Jacobson making an advanced run into the final third. Similarly, Vancouver’s second goal came from a Laba interception and then an assist from Jacobson who was again already higher up the field. 

Topics: