As we all know, the midfield diamond was ultimately the formation the Seattle Sounders settled on toward the end of last year. But there was never a sense of permanence about it.
One of the big questions all offseason was how all the offseason personnel changes would ultimately take shape. We didn't exactly get an answer on Saturday, but head coach Sigi Schmid also suggested it might not be as simple as a assigning numbers that add to 10.
"We have an idea, as in terms of what we want to do," Schmid said. "We want to play two up front. We think we're better with two up front and [Clint] Dempsey, I think, is more effective when he has two guys in front of him.
"It's like I always say, people get too hung up in 'Is it a diamond midfield? Is it a 4-4-2? Is it a 4-2-3-1?' It's all about how players play on different parts of the field. Players like to play in certain areas of the field and they like to drift to certain areas. We just need to construct a system, if you want to call it that, and place guys on the field where they can compliment each other and be able to take advantage of where they like to play and what they do well."
As you might remember, the Sounders managed to get Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle on the field together for about 15 minutes of the 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Sept. 13. After the game, Schmid somewhat jokingly called that formation an "amoeba" and actually seemed reasonably excited about being able to use it again. From the sound of it, something similar may be used this season.
"It might be a midfield where on one side of the midfield the player tucks in a little more and on the other side he plays on the touchline," he said. "It all depends. It might look like a back three sometimes because obviously we know we have a right full back that has the ability and likes to get forward. Do we chain him to the back or let him go and slide across?
"That's the way I believe in coaching. I don't believe that I've got this rigid system and 'OK you've got to fit into the system or else you're not gonna play.' I think we've got to take advantage of the talent that we have at our disposal. I think the back four for us is a very unique example where we have a guy like DeAndre [Yedlin] that can get forward and can get forward effectively and I think that the system has to allow that, take advantage of that."
The major flaw in this plan is that three of the key components aren't currently with the team and that the biggest key, Dempsey, is likely to miss all of preseason.
"It's easier than last year because we know he's going to be coming," Schmid said about Dempsey. "We know what he can bring because he's played with the guys. The guys know him better too. I've got a good idea where he's going to plug in."