Some things are certain. Death. Taxes. The Philadelphia Union sticking to their 4-5-1 formation. You’re not gonna change the inevitability of them, so you may as well start working within the confines presented to you. I’m not making any dinner reservations past next week, I itemize my deductions, and we may as well try and figure out the best way to use the 4-5-1 with the players the Union have healthy now.
This means Haris Medunjanin should probably sit.
Hear me out on this. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Bosnian midfielder’s play. It’s been amazing to watch him play these brilliant balls forward after so many years of watching the Union simply bomb long balls forward and hoping for the best.
But we have to work within the confines of the 4-5-1 (these aren’t my rules, they are the Union’s) and the Union finally have Alejandro Bedoya playing well in the 8. At $1.2 million a year, it’s pretty safe to say the Union are going to look to make sure Bedoya stays in a position he’s comfortable with and is playing well at. This is also why I’m not suggesting Bedoya go out on the wing.
This unfortunately means you need a defensive counterbalance at the 6. That’s not Haris Medunjanin. He’s not going to get back on defense, and that’s left the Union’s center backs exposed this season. That’s hugely problematic when your projected starting center back is out for a few months, and your best options are a 34 year old who’s been out of pro soccer for a couple years and an unproven rookie.
The Union need a defensive defensive midfielder to play next to Bedoya. Derrick Jones is an option, but as a natural 8 he may not have the defensive chops to play the position. A better option would be Maurice Edu, provided he was healthy. This was most likely the pairing the Union was hoping to have going into the playoffs last year. Who knows if we’ll ever see that partnership happen.
Warren Creavalle would be the best option were the Union to do that right now. Yes he’s a bit of a liability going forward, but his defensive abilities helped the Union’s defensive unit last year immensely. Brian Carroll is another option, as he’s probably one of the smartest defensive mids in the game - but BC isn’t a long-term solution for this problem.
This whole exercise raises a big question - why did the Union get a guy like Haris to begin with? Again I’m a huge fan of him, but in a system that pretty much requires a defensive CDM, he doesn’t fit that role. He may have been better suited to play the 8, but the Union already have Bedoya and Jones on their roster. So why bring in a guy that eats an international slot and half a million a year?
Then again, when you’re desperate to win you are inclined to want to try crazy things.