Earlier this week, Montreal Impact striker Jack McInerney said he enjoyed playing with a strike partner.
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Following the club working on plays in front of goal during a light training session, Jack Mac said it was “nice” and “fun” having a second striker to work with in the box. “It put me at ease,” continued the American, who has taken over as the number one target man since Cameron Porter underwent season-ending knee surgery.
Being a lone striker in manager Frank Klopas’ current formation, McInerney must count on his midfielder to get him the ball. This is a role Marco Di Vaio thrived in, as many of his goals were scored following continued possession in the centre of the park, turned quickly into attack. The majority of his club record 34 markers came after Di Vaio settled the ball down, took a touch and put his boot through it.
That worked (very) well for Di Vaio, but it won’t necessarily for McInerney, who claims that having the ball at his feet gives him confidence.
"“In a 4-4-2, I would be more involved than in a 4-5-1. Frank has told me to stay high and don’t come back and if I don’t get the ball, it’s the midfield’s fault. The more I touch the ball, the more confidence I have. It’s easier to attack in a 4-4-2, so I prefer it.” – Jack McInerney"
Frank Klopas responded by more or less saying that Jack Mac is not the coach.
Personally, I like the 4-5-1 (or 4-2-3-1 depending on how you look at it). I feel it has worked well going forward in recent matches. Defensively could be looked at differently, but that’s an article for another day.
So, should Klopas contemplate a formation change?
The simple answer is, no. The extended answer is also no.
Klopas keeping with this formation is a question of quality and quantity over…well, the strikers. Look at the midfield players the Impact have at their disposal.
Mar 28, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) dribbles the ball as Orlando City SC midfielder Eric Avila (12) and defender Tyler Turner (2) chases during the second half at the Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
They have players capable of taking over games with the best of them in Ignacio Piatti, Dilly Duka, Justin Mapp and Andres Romero. Eric Alexander and Calum Mallace are hungry to prove they can start in Major League Soccer and will relish any opportunity they get. Meanwhile, youngsters Blake Smith, Maxim Tissot and Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare are looking to gain precious experience.
Also available is Dominic Oduro, who has played both striker and outside midfield this season. Freaky Fast seemed most effective on the flanks, where he can use his speed to run at defenders and wreak havoc for centre-backs.
The one glaring problem in the current formation is the inconsistent play of the defensive midfield, but as I said, we’ll delve into that on another day.
When it comes to strikers, the only top quality one is McInerney. With Cameron Porter now out, that will remain the case, at least until the summer transfer window. Academy graduate Anthony Jackson-Hamel has yet to make his season debut due to injury and Santiago Gonzalez was released by the club last week.
The other striker, 2015 first-round SuperDraft pick Romario Williams, was unimpressive in his first appearance, but will get better with time. At this point though, I don’t think he’s ready to be in the starting lineup.
The Impact have been recently linked with Kenny Cooper, an MLS veteran who was waived by Seattle. Could he be the answer?
In conclusion, I think Frank Klopas has been doing a good job not only setting his lineup and formation this season, but actually coaching – making in-game adjustments, playing the match-ups.
Or at least, he’s been doing the best he can with what he’s got.