OK, Loons, now let's get in formation, as Beyoncé says.
A formation is how the 10 field players — defenders, midfielders and forwards — line up, minus keeper John Alvbage. There are many formations, and teams often master several to match up better with certain opponents.
United coach Adrian Heath has favored the 4-2-3-1 in the past and likely will continue that trend with United. He probably also will employ a 4-3-3, depending on whether the team is home or away and other factors.
For the opener at Portland, expect a 4-3-3, with Collen Warner acting as a holding midfielder while Mohammed Saeid and Rasmus Schuller are central midfielders. Wingers Miguel Ibarra and Kevin Molino will support striker Johan Venegas in the attack.
The 4-2-3-1, by contrast, provides four lines to cover the field instead of three and is flexible in-game, with the wingers either pushing forward into the attack to make it like that 4-3-3 or dropping back into the midfield/defense to make it more like a 4-4-2.
Schuller would be the central midfielder, with Warner and Saeid sitting back to form a defensive block with the center-backs, Francisco Calvo and Vadim Demidov. This gives attacking players more freedom because of the defensive support behind them. However, this formation is harder on the left-back Justin Davis and and right-back Jermaine Taylor. With less support, those players must be strong defenders.