Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath is known for deploying his favorite formation and rarely deviating from it.
That tried-and-true 4-2-3-1 has been a standard for the coach throughout his career, but circumstances sometimes force him to momentarily part ways with his system, which happened Friday in the Loons’ 1-0 loss to FC Dallas at TCF Bank Stadium.
With winger Miguel Ibarra suspended and injuries ravaging attacking-player depth, Heath elected for a 3-5-2 formation, which features three center backs and two wingbacks, who can join either the midfield in attack or center backs in defense.
Heath said defensively with five players at the back, the Loons didn’t really give FC Dallas many scoring chances from open play with eight shots. And while the coach was concerned about having enough players go forward in the attack, the Loons managed a strong 15 shots and 13 corners.
The only real problems were individual failures, with United unable to finish off scoring chances and leaving a Dallas player unmarked on a corner for the only goal.
Ramirez said the formation didn’t affect United’s offense.
“It took us 10 or 15 minutes to find the holes. And we knew it was going to take time once we started moving the ball,” Ramirez said. “But then you started to see Darwin [Quintero] come up in certain holes that we talked about throughout the week. Collen Warner did a great job of finding balls in there, and Ibson kept them pinned back in that hole. So it really was working well. I know even [Rasmus Schuller] made a run in behind me and almost had a chance when I checked to the ball. So the movements and stuff were there. So you can’t really complain on that.”
On the defense, center back Michael Boxall said the formation worked well, especially against Dallas’ 4-3-3, because there was always cover. Center back Wyatt Omsberg said while the 3-5-2 was new for United, the team worked on it throughout the week and came into the game confident the Loons could create scoring chances while slowing down Dallas.
That pretty much came to fruition, even if the result didn’t show it. But since Ibarra will be available for Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game against Toronto FC at TCF Bank Stadium — as will center back Francisco Calvo after the World Cup — the 3-5-2 might have been for one night only.
But maybe not.
“I thought it worked,” center back Brent Kallman said. “I mean, I don’t remember any dangerous chances they had in the first half. Yeah, I thought the coaches did a good job. We had a good week putting in the plan and executing it on the field. Then we obviously had to go away from it because we were down a goal.
“I liked it, and I thought we executed it pretty well, actually. We’ll see, maybe they want to use it more going forward. It’d be nice to have another option.”