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  • Gavin Rushnell

Would a 3-4-2-1 Work For Orlando?

Hey guys. Not a lot of news as of right now so I figured I'd look into a question I've had for a while now: would a 3-4-2-1 work with our squad. I question this because Muzzi has said he wanted an attacking-minded coach and the 3-4-2-1 is one of the most attack-minded formations there is. From face value, I think it could work. Here's how.

Players and System

In my opinion, our players are more suited to the 3-4-2-1 than the 4-3-3. Ruan and Moutinho are good options as wing-backs and can get up and down the flanks. Acosta (if he stays) is also viewed as having offensive positives (although his defensive deficiencies outweigh those positives by the looks of it). We would need a backup RB as Smith would be a nightmare at the wingback position.

In defense, we currently have Jansson, Sane, De John, Miller, and O'Neill. If we were to move into this system, we'd most likely see De John start in the center between Jansson (LCB) and Sane (RCB). De John played well in that sweeper role at the beginning of this season and if not for his injury, JOC might have stuck with the back 3. Miller and Sane are also stronger in a back 3 instead of a back 4. The back 3 allows a CB to push forward and apply pressure (something Sane does A LOT) without having to worry about the space they left behind because there are 2 more CB's behind him to cover that area. O'Neill would have to be sold but an easy and cheap replacement could be found in Karl Ouimette of Indy Eleven who will be out of contract at the end of November, plays in a back 3, and has MLS experience with NYRB.

In the midfield duo, we'd have a ball-winning midfielder paired with a deep-lying playmaker (Mendez and Rosell/ Higuita and Lindley). This way we still have some offense coming from this duo but we aren't losing the midfield battle because of the ball-winning midfielder.

Moving up, the 2 starting options would obviously be Nani and Pereyra. This role as the LF and RF would be a freer role where they can both push out wide to the wing when they need to or come in tight to control more possession. This allows Nani to play as a pseudo LW while Pereyra can play as a pseudo CAM but in the end, this formation puts them in the position where they can affect the game the most, in the space between the striker and the midfield duo. In this position, they would find space and be able to turn to create chances with their service.

Finally, we look into the striker role. While this formation can be used as a way to utilize the wingbacks in the attack, I believe we would look to force our play down the middle. Not only is this where our strength would lie, but that is also where Dom plays his best football. When he went off for SKC, he played in a style of play where the ball came straight down the middle time after time after time. When he succeeded 2 seasons ago under Kreis, almost all of his goals came from the middle. I think Dwyer would succeed in this formation and it would be worth giving him a shot. If he were to start the season slowly, we would have plenty of time to either find a replacement before the window shuts or try Benji/Tesho/Patino in that role.

This is roughly what it would look like with our current squad.

And here is what Wikipedia has to say about the formation.


Now we can't only pay attention to the positives as this would come with some negatives. For starters, our wide areas would be exposed and teams would target those areas constantly. In doing so, our back 3 would be stretched and the more they stretch, the more space there is for the opposing players to sneak into.

Another negative is our 2 Wingers/CAM'S would have to do some dirty work as they'd have to work very hard to keep the ball in front of them as the midfield 2 would be in 2 v 3 situations a lot. This could be countered by dropping Pereyra into a number 8 role in the defensive phase but then we lose our ability to attack teams with quick transition play as Pereyra would be too deep.

The other negative for me is whether or not this would suit probably our best CB in Jansson. For me, he did well in the back 4 system and a switch to a back 3 could see him not know where to be in certain situations but that is something that can be worked on at the training ground.


As I said earlier, the 3-4-2-1 would get the very best out of our squad (you must adapt to your players if you want to succeed) if it was implemented correctly but we would also have the opportunity to bring in players to join the starting Xl. The spot for me that would be up for grabs is where Rosell is as I'm unsure if he is going to stay with us next season. If we could find a deep-lying playmaker (my preference is Zhukov) to slot into that role and replace Rosell, we would have all the ingredients necessary to form an attacking-minded team that would be open, free-flowing, and fun to watch.

What do you think, would you like to see the 3-4-2-1?

'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando.

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