The 50-50 Ball: No Need to Change Formation in Ferreira's Absence

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Drew Epperley had his go at our 50-50 ball, arguing that FCD should move to a 4-4-2 in David Ferreira's absence. Today it's my turn and I believe Dallas should keep things the way they are, without changing too much. 

My argument:

With the situation FC Dallas is currently in, moving to a 4-4-2 would do more harm than good to FCD as they cope for the next three months plus without their MVP, David Ferreira. While a 4-4-2 is Schellas' preferred system, the makeup of the roster right now is not set up to flourish in a 4-4-2 system and changing formations would require a major lineup adjustment that will set back Dallas further than they already are.

My reasoning for this is as follows:

First and foremost, moving to a 4-4-2 would require the dropping of Daniel Hernandez from the starting lineup. The only way you're going to convince me that a 4-4-2 system will be effective in Frisco is if the center of that midfield is Eric Alexander with Andrew Jacobson. I cannot see how a diamond system with either Avila, Villar or Alexander will be effective with Daniel Hernandez as the d-mid.

Avila does not tackle well enough to play in the center of midfield, Jacobson isn't technically gifted enough, Alexander does not get forward well enough and Villar can't cover enough ground. The situation this leaves you with is either exposing Daniel Hernandez's greatest weakness, his speed, or making the 4-4-2 more of a bucket formation with two central mids that sit too deep making FC Dallas a one-dimensional team attacking down the wings. Any of those situations leaves me vary wary of how Dallas will deal with teams containing dynamic central midfielders. 

Moving Avila to attacking mid in the current formation is the best option. The simplest way to counteract the loss of David Ferreira without upsetting things too much is to give Eric Avila the reins with the same responsibilities that Ferreira has. Of course there will be a drop off in talent level, but I feel like Avila has what it takes to finally step up. He had this to say after the game on Saturday.

"Luckily [the ball] popped out in front of me and as soon as I got it, I just took the touch and put it in," said Avila, who added that losing Ferreira helped motivate him and his teammates.

While Avila has never been able to lock down a starting spot with FC Dallas, he also hasn't had a sniff in the attacking mid role since 2008 in which FCD won 2 of the 3 games he started there. I get the feeling from that quote like Avi really feels like it's his time to step up and put the team on his back. I'd love to see how Avila can play the attacking mid position with a guy like Jacobson behind him. Just imagine Avila in the middle with the ball pushing forward with Shea and Chavez streaking down the wings.

Of course you can say that can still happen in a diamond formation, but there will be no one left in the midfield if anyone loses the ball assuming Hernandez stays defensive. Eric Avila deserves at least a game or two in the position that he's been backing up for three years. It's his natural spot which we haven't seen him play in years. If you aren't willing to give Avila a start at attacking mid when Ferreira goes down, there's no point having him stay in Dallas as there's better wingers on the roster and Eric still has some trade value. #freeAvila

Keep reading

If you move to a 4-4-2, what happens when Castillo is gone and Ferreira returns? In a 4-4-2 formation, Castillo would presumably be the off-striker that plays behind Luna and Milton, but what happens when Castillo is gone for the U20 World Cup? You will have two slow forwards playing off of each other in a formation that will presumably ask a ton from their forwards to create their own chances. As we discussed, it's very likely that a 4-4-2 formation would turn into a bucket type formation which would require the two forwards to do a lot of tracking back to receive the ball.

Also, what happens when Ferreira is back from injury? Do you change your formation back to the current one a month before the season is over? I certainly wouldn't want to do that. Changing formations right now seems penny wise and pound foolish to me. It's a long season and while the many games in May are certainly very important, what's most important is how you are playing in September and October. Now if you were to tell me that Ferreira was out for the season, I might advocate for the 4-4-2 more, but if the 3-4 month projection is true then there's no need to scrap the current formation. 

So you're telling me Fabian Castillo comes off the bench? Yes, I am. Dallas has allowed a first half goal in all but two games this season. The focus on the first half right now needs to be keeping things compact and body blows to the opposing team while unleashing Castillo on tired defenses in the second half.

He's shown his brightest moments when the other teams look tired and right now I want Shea and Chavez starting with Castillo playing the last 30 minutes in a position decided by the aspects of the game. It seems totally backward to have Milton playing the second half and Castillo playing the first half. Having Castillo on the bench ready to take Marvin Chavez's spot at the first slip up will keep the Honduran motivated to play at a top level. 

In conclusion There's no need to blow this thing up and change formation right now. It's time to truly give Eric Avila his chance in the position he feels most comfortable in. If you don't do it now, there will never be another reason to see what Avila's got. If three weeks from now the move is a disaster then we can start thinking about changing things up, but right now it's time to #freeAvila. 

Which side do you fall on? Move to a 4-4-2 with Castillo and Luna/Milton up top or keep the current formation with Eric Avila given the reins? Or do you have a completely different opinion(1-8-1 anyone?) 

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