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Bruce Arena: “They’re suited to any formation in which they play well and move well together”

The New England Revolution went back to a 4-4-2 on Wednesday night and it didn’t appear to work.

MLS: Toronto FC at New England Revolution Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night was not one to remember for the New England Revolution.

The Revs suffered a 3-2 defeat to the last place Toronto FC at Gillette Stadium. Their unbeaten run at home came to an end and New England has now gone three straight games without a win.

Revolution fans noticed that something was different when the lineup was released prior to kickoff. Besides the obvious absences of Tajon Buchanan and Matt Turner, New England also began in a different formation.

The Revs have primarily operated in a 4-2-3-1, but switched it up on Wednesday once again experimenting with a 4-4-2.

Now there are some benefits to playing in this formation. With two strikers up top, it allows for all your DP’s to play instead of having to decide between starting Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa.

But New England has struggled for many reasons when it comes to this formation. While Carles Gil once again was able to score a goal against Toronto, he seems better suited to playing in a more central role.

The second goal that New England gave up was also tied to the formation. Toronto was able to get a 3-on-2 advantage and they didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.

With Gil operating on more of the right wing along with Brandon Bye, New England lost some of their defensive shape. Bye and Gil love to get forward but usually they have Matt Polster along with another winger to keep opponents at bay. On the second goal, Andrew Farrell and Henry Kessler were left out to dry due to the lack of defensive coverage.

After the game Bruce Arena was asked about the formation change and it’s fair to say that it wasn’t his main concern.

He said, “They’re suited to any formation in which they play well and move well together.

Around the 20th minute it seemed like New England changed their tactics. While it wasn’t a 4-2-3-1, Gil did operate in a more central role.

New England’s captain was also asked where he feels more comfortable playing and the midfielder said that he tries to help the team no matter where he plays.

Gil said, “I try to do always the same. I’m here to help the team, sometimes on the right, sometimes in the middle. Of course, I’m not a player defined as a winger, but I can play in this position because I always go to the middle to be a midfielder or number 10. So, we know we don’t have in our formation, that is playing these positions, I try to help the team and today I could not because we lost.”

Gil also mentioned that with Buchanan training with Canada’s National Team ahead of the Gold Cup, New England needed someone to replace him on the field.

After losing to Toronto it will be interesting to see how the Revs decide to line up against an Atlanta United squad that was hit hard by Gold Cup call ups. It seems like at this point the sample size is big enough to prove that New England doesn’t work well in a 4-4-2.