I am interested in Caleb Porter and his success in our U23s. I love the philosophy he has – winning with possession. In Goal.com’s writeup of Canada’s stunning 2-0 upset of the US Men’s U23 team, Porter talks about the tactical difference Canada used, their switch to a 4-3-2-1 to clog up the midfield and frustrate the US possession-attack approach. Here is what Porter said:
“They set up in a Christmas tree, 4-3-2-1, and it’s not a shape they’ve used…That’s a shape you use to really stop a team and they did that to shut us down.. . It was essentially 3 vs. 5 in the middle.” (Post-game news conference)
If you ever wondered how tactics and formations can shape a game, this would be a good example. I have noted on this blog Jonathan Wilson’s great book Inverting the Pyramid where he chronicles the changes in soccer tactics and formations. As he states, many tactical and shape changes are made in response to someone else’s success. In this case. Canada, after watching the US U23 Men thrash Cuba 6-0, decided on a new formation to counter the US success. If you are wondering what the perspective of the successful US midfielder was, here is Joe Corona’s post-game observation: “They had the two center backs there, two holding midfielders right in front of me, so it was tough to get a rhythm in the middle of the park.” He also mentioned that the formation by Canada enabled the US to have 2 v. 1 on the flanks but that they did not exploit that well enough. Corona said: “In that type of game, if the team is going to play that way then you have to beat them wide and I didn’t think we created enough.”
The US Men are now in danger of not qualifying for the Olympics and need a result against El Salvador tonight. Check in and support these guys. Here is the information for tonight’s game: The US Men’s U-23 National Team plays its critically important last Group A game in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament. With Saturday’s loss to Canada, the US must defeat El Salvador to advance to the semifinals. Kick off is set for 8:00 p.m. CT Monday March 26 from LPF Field in Nashville, Tenn. The match is televised live on the Universal Sports Network, Mun2 and CONCACAF.com. Fans can also follow the match live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
Quotes from post-game conference taken from this article on goal.com: http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/1679/us-national-team/2012/03/24/2990070/caleb-porters-usa-u23-side-caught-off-guard-by-well-drilled. And here is a link to my prior blog post reviewing Jonathan Wilson’s superb book Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics (Orion, 2008): http://soccerthought.com/2011/11/18/gaining-territory-v-possession-part-i/.