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Tactical Flexibility Could Be Hallmark Of Sounders Moving Forward

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I don't have a good reason for using this picture, but it sure is cute.
I don't have a good reason for using this picture, but it sure is cute.

With the Seattle Sounders suddenly as healthy as they've been all year, the coaches can finally make some choices that are based on something other than necessity. As I alluded to in my story about the left-midfield position, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid suggested that could lend itself to some interested tactical decisions.

In discussing their possible options, Schmid said the Sounders could employ more of a hybrid formation than they have in the past and suggested several possible formation changes. None of them are as drastic as moving to a three-in-the-back formation that seems all the vogue these days, but he did suggest some more fluidity between a 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1.

We'll get our first look at how this could play out on Saturday when the Sounders visit Chivas USA where they are expected to start the quartet of Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert for the first time. Here's some of the ways these formations could look:

4-4-2

This is obviously the formation we're most used to seeing. In my mind, if Montero and Johnson are both playing forward, the chances increase that Sigi is going to want Evans in there to help provide defensive cover:

----------Johnson----------

---------------Montero-----

Evans---Tiffert---Rosales

---------------Alonso

That group isn't going to be able to start every game, though. Here's what we might call a "second-choice", something I suspect we'll see on Thursday against Caledonia:

-----------Ochoa-----------

-----------------Martinez

Caskey----Rose----Evans

----------Carrasco

4-2-3-1

You could argue that the Sounders have been playing a lot of this formation all year, and they have whether or not the lineup sheet says so. I think Martinez playing will likely mean the team takes more of this posture. Here's how it will probably look going forward:

----------Johnson------

Martinez----Montero----Rosales

-------Tiffert-----Alonso------

Truth be told, I can't see a "second choice" version of this going out there, but a lot of these parts are pretty much interchangeable with Tiffert moving up and Evans potentially joining in.

4-3-3

This isn't quite as foreign as we sometimes think, as the differences between all three of these can be rather subtle. That said, I have a feeling that we're going to have more instances of formations that clearly look like this when Martinez is fully integrated.

---------Johnson-----------

Martinez---------Rosales

----------Tiffert-------

Evans------Alonso

I have a feeling that Montero is most ill-fitting in a three-forward set-up and when he's being rested, this could be an intriguing way to go.

I suspect that if Zakuani starts seeing significant playing time, this is something we could see, potentially in the final CCL game against Marathon:

--------Ochoa------

Zakuani-------Cato

--------Tiffert-------

Rose-----Evans

What kind of combinations would you like to see?