Very often when we talk about formations we do so in a very rigid manner regarding players and their positions. However, some of the best teams in the world are "loose" with the exact spots in which their players play. Now I am not saying that the U should adopt this practice but I am about to propose a formation that lends itself to flexibility.
The defense will remain the same regardless: Zac MacMath in goal, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, and Porfiro Lopez on the back line. The formation is a hybrid 4-2-3-1, 4-1-3-2, 4-3-3, among other things but I'll just call it "The Wheel" and I will explain after the jump how that works.
The largest part of an effective "Wheel" is the midfield. For the Union the initial formation would look like a 4-2-3-1. Brian Carroll (RDM) and Gabriel Gomez/ Amobi Okugo (LDM) would be the defensive midfielders. The attacking midfield would consist of Michael Farfan on the right wing and Freddy Adu in the center. The left wing would be between Gabe Farfan (his natural position for those that do not know) and Jack McInerny. Up top would be either Danny Mwanga or Josue Martinez or Chandler Hoffman, I do not feel comfortable making a determination just yet since I have not see two of the three play but for brevity's sake I will just use Hoffman as the example.
This formation would be designed as a counter-attacking setup. The U would play their usual solid defense using their CDMs to break up plays and initiate attacks. They would get it to their attacking midfielders who would play the ball up to Hoffman inside the 18. But what if Hoffman cannot get a good chance on goal? This is where the hybridization comes in.
For those that do not know some rosters list Adu as a Midfielder, some as a Forward. Why? Because he can play both. So here is what happens. Hoffman (remember he represents 3 forwards) holds the ball up, the result is that Adu moves up into attack and becomes a second striker. Gomez moves into the CM position and Carroll shifts over to become the lone CDM. This allows Hoffman to have a strike partner and allows the team to have a more attacking formation. Further Adu moving into the attack allows the U to have a left footed striker as variety and allows Gomez, a very accurate passer, to move into a more attacking capacity. Note: In this scenario Garfan is on the left wing.
When McInerny is on the left wing the shape changes from a 4-2-3-1 into a 4-3-3 and here is how. Sometimes when teams use a counter attacking formation they put a forward on the wing which is why I see it feasible that McInerny could be deployed on the wing. In the same situation as before where the counter-attack does not work the shape changes to a 4-3-3. Here McInerny moves into a Left Wing position which he has a seen a great deal of success in U-23 and U-20 camps. Hoffman remains in the center and Adu shifts to the right wing where (again) he has seen success in recent U-23 camps as well. If the midfield 3 wants to be attacking then Marfan moves slightly more centrally and Gomez moves forward and voila an attacking 4-3-3. But if they are worried about being exposed in such a situation then Marfan moves in as the sole attacking midfielder and Gomez and Carroll remain as defensive midfielders.
Now what also needs to be accounted for is Williams and Lopez. As we all know Williams likes to attack and if Lopez is even half the attacker Williams is we will see him at least as high up as the defensive midfielders if not further. Which adds even more flexibility and more hybridization in the formation that I won't even go into. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this. Would it work would it not? Would you change out certain personnel? Do you think I'm totally nuts for suggesting this? Also in the 4-2-3-1 who would be the best lone forward? What could make this better? P.S. If you have any questions about my reasoning that I did not fully explain (I did not want this to get too lengthy) just ask.