Just a few days ago, I told you all that Whitecaps Head Coach Martin Rennie should not change his starting lineup ahead of the Philadelphia Union match. I informed you all that the team needed time to build chemistry, and that Rennie needed to stick by them through losses as well as wins.
Well, one match sure threw that strategy out the freaking window.
Brad Rusin? Injured, questionable for the Timbers match this Saturday. Kenny Miller? Same. Gershon Koffie? Yellow card accumulation, suspended. Finally, everyones absolute favorite player of the moment, Jun-Marques Davidson? Suspended, I heard he got a red card or something like that.
While Rennie has been rolling out the 4-3-3 since the trio of Teibert, Miller and Camilo came together, although that's likely to change with a short bench. However, one thing Rennie still has, is plenty of speed. Rennie should be looking at going with a 4-2-4, if everything unfolds the way it should. We're hearing reports that Andy O'Brien should be good to go this weekend, although we've been hearing that he's been ready for the past month. The backline shouldn't be hurting too much then with Rusin out, as long as O'Brien can slot right back in. However, my proposal of a 4-2-4 means they will have to play a bit more mobile, as there is more room for them to cover with just a two person midfield. That could either be a disaster with Jordan Harvey back there, or could open up more opportunities for him to get involved offensively. Either way, it would be entertaining.
In mid, Rennie should go with a pairing of Nigel Reo-Coker and Matt Watson. Reo-Coker is a no-brainer and is absolutely essential to the good fortunes of the Whitecaps, but Watson should get a look because he's been very good in his limited minutes this season. He was good last season too, and perhaps I'm just a little biased because memories of his epic performance against the Galaxy in last years playoff have me remembering how good he can actually be. You'll still get your charging runs from Reo-Coker, and Watson brings very much a 'diet Gershon Koffie' playing style to the match. He can play the ball forward and has shown flashes of creativity, but he's also very capable defensively, and should be able to hold his own.
Up front, I'm suggesting a four person unit including Russell Teibert, Kekuta Manneh, Camilo and Tom Heinemann to take on the Timbers. I would put both Camilo and Heinemann in the center forward roles, while Manneh and Teibert could obviously do more damage from the wings. Heinemann and his size could be a great help up front, especially on set pieces, where the Whitecaps have really struggled so far this season. In fact, the Whitecaps last goal that came from a corner kick? Jay Demerit, in the second game of last season against Chivas USA. Yikes.
The other three in the forward unit are pretty standard; Tiebert can still do his damage out wide, while Manneh's speed makes him a natural to cover the ground that's made available by a 4-2-4. Meanwhile, Camilo still gets to sit in a relatively familiar position, because the Whitecaps really shouldn't be attempting to mess up his hot foot at all.
While bringing this strategy up with my drinking friends, I was laughed down, mostly because they brought up the glaring defensive problems a 4-2-4 formation can present. I feel that the Whitecaps speed could easily make up for the holes in the formation, but even still, I understand that this is an unconventional style that might make a few guys shake their heads.
However, I'm very interested in what you think would be the best formation for the upcoming Timbers match. Should the 'Caps switch it up, or keep going with what's gotten them here?