While #DempseyWatch remains in full effect, we can start discussing how his addition to the squad could impact the Starting XI and the team's formation. The Sounders have suffered from the lack of creativity in the midfield and the poor service to Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson.
In Sigi's current Y-shaped midfield, we have a CDM, a CM, a LAM and RAM. The CDM does most of the defensive dirty work, the CM is asked to help on both defense and offense, and the two wingers attack more than defend. This formation works well when the single CDM is Alonso, but suffers when he is not available to play. We continue to have good options on the wings, with Rosales and Neagle as the current best options for RAM and LAM respectively, Brad Evans being able to play in either, and others like Zakuani, Caskey, Burch, and Estrada being able to fill in as well (when healthy).
The CM has been the main question mark. In this formation, the CM should be the player that is always involved, always linking up with players all around him, getting a lot of touches on the ball. He needs to be the premier passer on the team. And he needs to help Alonso on defense. We do not have a complete player able to excel at that role. Evans, Carrasco, Joseph, and Rose are our current candidates.
However, adding the Deuce would not exactly fill that CM void. He would be much more of a CAM than a CM. To maintain the current LAM and RAM as well as the Deuce at CAM would be a very attacking formation, that would leave Alonso on a island even worse than before. It could still be useful in certain situations when the team needs goals.
OPTION #1 (4-1-3-2)
Another option, if Sigi really wanted to maintain the Y-shaped midfield, would be to play Dempsey as LAM, and use Brad Evans as the CM. This would not change the current CM problem, but B-Rad has shown improvement over the last few months and hopefully the addition of the Deuce would already have a big impact on the creativity of the team, besides opening up spaces for everyone else. On this scenario, Neagle would be our super sub.
OPTION #2 (4-1-1-2-2: The Y)
Alternatively, one must also be careful and mindful of our defensive side. With such creative and talented players up front such as Oba, EJ, and the Deuce, we might prefer to shore up the defense elsewhere. On this approach Sigi could replace the LAM and RAM with LM and RM, having wingers that can help Ozzie and the wing backs on defense. We end up with a Diamond shaped midfield.
OPTION #3 (4-1-2-1-2: The Diamond)
A more traditional squared 4-4-2 (also called 4-2-2-2) could be useful, adding a second CDM to help the Honeybadger. This second CDM could be Carrasco, or even Brad Evans with more conservative instructions. This could be a more balanced approach, where we would still have 4 attacking players, and be well covered in the back.
OPTION #4 (4-2-2-2: The Square)
Finally, we couldn't end this analysis without mentioning a 4-3-3 that many Sounders fans seem to like. The difference here is that the third man up top would be the Deuce, instead of Neagle.
OPTION #5 (4-3-3)
And there would be many other options besides these. The possibilities are endless. The Deuce could be the missing piece to lift our Sounders to the MLS Cup.
(Formation images via www.footballuser.com)