NYCFC comfortable in unconventional formation

Khiry Shelton NYCFC


Patrick Vieira fielded New York City FC in an ageless W-M formation Sunday, and although the club blew a two-goal lead, the tactic received positive reviews from the coach and his players for limiting Toronto FC‘s chances Sunday afternoon.

“We knew that Toronto was really direct, we know the objective for them was to find [Sebastian] Giovinco in space right away,” Vieira said. “It was important for us to block that space and I believe that three at the back did that really well.”

Giovinco was the lone center forward in Toronto head coach Greg Vanney‘s 4-3-3. Since NYCFC had two defensive midfielders and a centerback covering that area, the Italian striker had little space to influence Toronto’s attack. New York City also had a 4v3 advantage in the midfield, forcing Toronto to play out wide where it struggled for much of the first half.

Winger Tony Taylor said the new formation helped clean up mistakes made in NYCFC’s season opener.

“I think that we are a lot tighter now on defense, we didn’t leave gaps for the other team to expose us from behind as much as we did during that Chicago game and I think that we can keep improving from that,” Taylor said.

The numerical advantage also allowed NYCFC to control the possession and complete almost 100 more passes than Toronto in the first half. New York City made the most of that advantage, scoring twice in the first half through David Villa, but gave up a goal just before halftime.

Vanney said Damien Perquis‘ goal allowed him to take a more measured approach to reorganizing Toronto’s tactics.

“You don’t have to be as aggressive in your moves at halftime because you’re still only one goal behind and one goal is obviously easier to come by than two,” Vanney said. “We can stick to the things we adjusted to and let the half play out. We could have been more aggressive if we needed to late in the half but we didn’t have to overextend ourselves after we got the second goal.”

The Toronto boss also said he moved his wingers inside to deal with the NYCFC’s overloaded midfield. He replaced Tsubasa Endoh with Benoit Cheyrou to switch to a 4-3-2-1 with Jonathan Osorio and Marky Delgado supporting Giovinco. The move gave Giovinco enough space to run at the New York City defense and score the equalizer in the 77th minute.

Although it was points dropped for NYCFC, midfielder Mix Diskerud said the formation works for the squad and that he was comfortable in his role.

“We’ve been playing for a couple of weeks now with that system and I think that it’s the more we play with it the more comfortable we will be,” Diskerud said. “Coach told us before the season started that we were going to be working in different systems for different games and it worked out well for a period of time, as we were up 2-0. It kind of feels like a loss to give up that lead at home but I like that system for sure.”

Vieira said he can switch between the 4-3-3 used against the Fire and the W-M, but that they were not the only two formations he can choose from. For Friday night’s match against Orlando City SC, he said he may even consider a 3-3-4.

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