Shaping the 4-3-1-2
I was surprised on thursday night, when I got my first live look that the Thorns. Christine Sinclair, a player I have always thought of as more of a back line striker, was dropping into the midfield. It didn’t take long to see why. She’s brilliant there, and Portland has another forward to press the back line in Alex Morgan.
4 Defenders, 3 midfielders, 1 attacking midfielder, 2 forwards
Obviously this changes through moments of the game, but this is how the team largely shaped out.
The Defense 4
Center Backs Rachel Buehler and Kat Williamson have settled well in front of Karina LeBlanc’s goal. Rachel’s head is on a swivel, constantly scanning left to right to make sure everyone on the field is marked the way she wants it.
Both Fullbacks Miriam Dougherty and Nikki Marshall like to get forward, and contribute to the attack. When the midfield stays central it falls on the outside backs to provide the width.
The Midfield 3
Becky Edwards anchors the midfield. She generally stays in a arc in front of the center backs. She prevents easy through balls to the feet of opposing forwards and lays the tackles. In many situations situations other thorns players will channel pressure toward becky to use her as an anvil.
Allie Long and Nikki Washington play on the left and right side respectively.
Both are good passers and can whip in a cross. They tend to play slightly in front of Edwards, on either side. I would still call them central midfielders. While both players get wide and can take space, I would not call them wingers.
Christine Sinclair 1
Christine is simply the best player on the field. Touch, vision, power, brains, experience. She makes everyone around her better. Christine finds herself playing between the midfield and forward lines. Defensively she drops behind the ball and into the midfield. When the ball is won, she slides into space and looks to link up the team. At which point she is free. On these breaks she often moves with the forwards providing numbers to free up a shot. oh, and she can shoot!
Alex Morgan and the recently acquired Meleana Shim provide the forward thrust for the team.
Morgan’s job seems to stay on the oppositions back line. Her speed give the team the constant threat to get behind from anywhere on the field. An impulse the team as a whole is still trying to find a balance with. Thursday night for example, large periods of the first half involved the Thorns midfield repeatedly trying to knock long balls behind the Sky Blue Defense for Alex Morgan to run on to. While her pace is undoubtedly top class, I think sundays ball on the ground from substitute midfielder Courtney Wetzel is a better example of how to get the most out of Morgan.
Shim plays more of a duel role. Yes she gets forward to stretch opposing back lines, but she also drops into the midfield any time Christine Sinclair chooses to get forward. At any time you can expect to see either Shim or Sinclair in the midfield, sometimes both more of a 4-3-2-1.
Next game :
Away to Seattle Reign at Starfire Sports Complex on Saturday May 25th @ 2pm.