Saturday was not a fun day for the New England Revolution and their fans. The club struggled against a Nashville side that they should be defeating. Does part of the blame go to how New England ended up lining up?
Revolution fans have seen New England use two formations to start games this season. Bruce Arena has played with the idea of lining up in a 4-4-2 as well as playing in a 4-2-3-1.
The 2021 debut of the 4-2-3-1 came in New England’s best performance of the season so far against Atlanta United. Carles Gil was dominating in a more central role and Tajon Buchanan was able to start on the right side. It was a quality performance against a quality opponent.
Against Nashville, New England went back to the 4-4-2. Part of the reason that the Revs changed formations was due to the absence of Gustavo Bou. Revolution fans saw Bou return meaning that Arena went back to two strikers up top.
This also meant that Gil played more on the right side while Tajon Buchanan was sent back to play right back. Brandon Bye was the unlucky man who went from the starting XI to starting the game on the bench.
After the game, Arena was asked about the formation and he seems more concerned with how New England played than tactics.
He said, “We’re better suited to play better soccer. If we’re not playing well, the formation doesn’t matter. Over time, we’ll see what’s the best formation for our team but the issues in the first 30 minutes of game had nothing to do with our formation, it had to do with our play.”
While formations might not seem important, they can greatly affect who ends up in the starting XI. If New England only has one striker you would end up having Adam Buksa or Bou come off the bench. If the Revs have two strikers this means that Buchanan likely ends up playing right back.
So Arena has some decisions to make when it comes to what formation the club utilizes but more importantly, New England just needs to play better if they want to defeat the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.