4-4-2. 4-3-3. It doesn't matter, they're wrong. For the Philadelphia Union the only logical formations are the biggest problem formations...three at the back. As a Union fan and supporter I can tell you the Union are far from solid at the back. With the pick up of Austin Berry, a hole is filled but depth in a four at the back is non-existent if an injury or suspension happens. So looking at the talent on the roster the only formations that should be are the 3-6-1 or the 3-5-2.
The 3-6-1 is a compact formation with hustle wingers (yes, that means Cruz). It clogs the middle of the field against those direct opponents and can be used in attack with two midfielders roaming free. It is a midfield dominated plan alienating the lone striker but with the now talented midfield, McInerney being known more as a poacher, and Casey as a target man, is that a bad thing? Defensively we would be stretched when it comes to teams who play from the corners but teams like the Red Bulls play a very direct game. I imagine Okugo, Berry, and Gaddis in the back. Carroll in front of them as a stopper. Edu and LeToux in central midfield, allowing either to press and giving LeToux an internal position from which to create. Cruz and Maidana running for days on the wings. And Nogueira behind McInerney. This position allows for maximum clutter in the middle but with all the creative players being close enough to link. Something that didn't exist last year.
The 3-5-2 is used by controlling a game with the three central midfielders. It allows for a striker to play freely and come back to the ball in the false nine roll. It can also use the wing-backs to pressure in the counter attack or build up play in a direct or indirect manner. For the Union it can be played defensively with Okugo, Berry, and Gaddis at the back allowing Williams and Fabino to bomb on forward as they like to do but also provide coverage with essentially 5 defenders on the pitch at once. Or it can be played offensively with LeToux and Maidana pressing the wings. Or both, taking away a teams best winger with a defensive wing back on one side while pressing the teams weaker winger on the other. The central midfield is then loaded with Nogueira up top and Edu paired with Carroll. Edu in this situation could play higher, just under Nogueira or lower next to Carroll depending on the circumstances. With a forawrd pair of McInerney and Casey, Casey would be allowed to take his preferred Center Forward position with McInerney playing more of a false nine linking with Nogueira or a poacher waiting for the ball to come off Casey. In a free flowing offense, this formation would prove very difficult for defenders to account for man vs. location on the pitch.
Thinking about these formations as actual options is hard because you have to accept that goals will happen against you. Is that new for the Union? Yes! But having a greater ability to score would also be new for the Union. The best part of the three at the back formations is when you look at depth. In these formations the Union switch to a team with every position covered. Something the Union do not have with a four at the back line up.