Recently John Hackworth spoke about his desire's to trot out a 4-3-3 during the regular season more candidly than usual. This offered a lot of insight into the way he will deploy his new players in 2014 and it still offers a lot of hope. As I have said before, this is Hackworth's team to ruin now that he has the pieces of the puzzle.
His first mistake could come sooner rather than later.
He opened up about the position on the right wing where our fan favorite and machine-like Sebastien Le Toux is battling (undeservedly) for a starting spot with the often-vilified Danny Cruz. Hack explained that Le Toux and Cruz have very little difference between them when they play (I strongly beg to differ), but it is true that Cruz puts the Union in more of a traditional 4-3-3 with an out in out winger. Le Toux, however, would give the Union more in the midfield, despite his ability to spread the field. The formation would shift a bit for Le Toux, but ultimately would resemble something similar.
So the question is will a more traditional 4-3-3 be played with Cruz starting or will Le Toux regain his once held spot down the right side in more of a 4-2-3-1?
Barry Evans - I don't think that Hack was saying a 4-3-3- would mean Cruz, but that when Le Toux plays there he tends to come inside more to be closer to Jack. I think Le Toux plays over Cruz. (or Le Toux up top and Cruz on the right?)
Nicholas Youngstein - They can't do a 4-3-3 with Carroll, so since they won't get rid of him, they have to play 4-2-3-1. I hope Danny Cruz is on the bench either way.
JC Escobar - Cruz will start just because Hackworth loves his game. It was proven last year. Danny started while Le Toux sat on the bench.
Eugene Rupinski - I think Hack has the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 confused. I expect to see a constantly fluctuating lineup as the formations are adjusted, meaning you'll see both Le Toux and Cruz getting minutes.
William Murphy - I see it this way, the right man for the right job. That being said, the idea of a 4-3-3 is sexy and exciting. So saying publicly that the Union will maybe play a 4-3-3 is all a PR gimmick. Let's not get distracted by the shiny bauble here. Posting an infomercial that wrongly relates random unrelated formations to the Union is an unabashed smoke and mirrors game.
Regardless of the formation the Union improved the midfield and put a new emphasis on attack minded players. This SHOULD pay dividends IF they can get goals from the midfielders. In that role ALL of the midfielders will have roles to play depending on the situation. I see Cruz's role as more wide and fast with less defense and Le Toux's role as more bringing the ball central with a great degree of defending from the front.
Each of those players have their context. Perhaps we aren't used to actual depth in Philadelphia yet, but fans of teams in other leagues will be familiar with the concept of not either/or but more of now or then. I have to admit last season when Cruz was the only option, I was unhappy with him and his limited skill set. This season, if he can just be tasked with doing what he does well, he may prove a valuable asset, the same can be said for Le Toux.
I can't think in either/or terms with this roster.
Frank Cobbina - Between Cruz and LeToux, I think Le Toux will start opening day on the right wing. However, I think at the end of the season the fans will be looking at Zach Pfeffer getting regular minutes there and hoping he becomes the eventual starter.
DOOP Cast - Le Toux should start because he offers more flexibility in that he can play as a striker if need be. Cruz can only play one way and in one rôle. We all know that Hack has a major soft spot for Cruz so it is possible that Hack's heart could win out against his head and we see Cruz line up on opening day.
Justin F. - The 4-3-3 is much too fun a formation for Hackworth to use.
John Rossi - Le Toux should start, but I don't see how that would change the formation to a 4-2-3-1. Ideally, Le Toux could pair up with McInerney in the center during prolonged periods of attacking play, allowing Sheanon to move higher up the field. Seba is a better defender than Cruz, as well. Cruz is garbage, and should only see time off the bench. He has no technical ability whatsoever, but his speed can make up for a lot of his technical deficiencies. To recap, start Le Toux, let Cruz run in the last half hour when the team needs a goal.
I don't think that Hack's commitment to the 4-3-3 this off-season is any type of ploy, gimmick, or trick. All three of the midfielders that have signed fit well into the formation, especially Maidana. From what I've heard Hack say, and from the signings that have been made, I think that the team will line up in a 4-3-3 when they take the field in Portland.
Jared Young - Trying to predict what Hackworth will do is torture. Like almost everyone else, I'd like to see Le Toux get the start on the right side. But there are so many unknowns about how all of these new players will fit together, we have to be open to experimenting to start the season.
Before this turns into a rant I will simply state that Hackworth knows who is better in this position. As much as Danny is his prized possession, I think this decision is a no brainer. Sebastien LeToux recording a career high 12 assists lining up on the right last season and that was before the team's offensive slump and his subsequent flip to the left side. No doubt Cruz coming on in the 70th or 80th minute is appealing due to him running rampant no matter what minute it is. His style fits better against tired defenders than fresh ones.
This answer is short and sweet, because this shouldn't even be a question. Le Toux should start over Cruz no matter what and I sure hope Hackworth agrees with me.
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