Changing formations pays off for Impact

30 recoveries between Taïder and Piette

When something isn’t going as planned, new strategies are often adopted. That’s precisely what happened this Saturday for the Montreal Impact, in its game against the Houston Dynamo. Head coach Rémi Garde decided to opt for a 4-2-3-1, a formation the Bleu-blanc-noir hasn’t used since the season began, with Samuel Piette and Saphir Taïder playing the defensive midfielder role in front of the defense.

“It went well,” said midfielder Saphir Taïder. “I’m less offensive and have less of a reason to go forward, but at the same time I touch the ball a little more. We managed to keep the ball longer than usual, which allowed us to defend less and maintain our energy on the field. It was a good start, but it’s a formation we need to work on because it was only one game.”

Montreal did get more of the ball, earning 55.7% of possession after 90 minutes of play, and got forward more than its counterpart. But a big chunk of work was done in midfield, where the Impact’s two defensive midfielders made 30 recoveries, with an incredible 17 of them going to Samuel Piette.

“Sam would recuperate the ball in any system,” said head coach Rémi Garde. “That being said, I thought he was beneficial to a certain point. Sam is able to adapt well. Saphir plays a game that takes him a little more up the field. It was my intention to offer more solutions moving forward, but we had a bit of a hard time finding Jeisson and Anthony with this formation.”

A work in progress

Like anything new, a certain adaptation period as always needed. There’s no doubt that there were benefits to the team aligning itself in this way, although there are certain aspects of the team’s game that will need to be adjusted to make it more effective.

“It’s a formation we haven’t really used since the beginning of the year,” said midfielder Samuel Piette.  “Normally I’m alone in front of the defense. The angles are different, and I remember missing a few passes in the beginning of the game. It’s all about adapting. In a formation like this one, Saphir likes to go forward a little more, so my role is to be more of sentinel.”

Garde’s reasoning behind aligning his team in this manner was to bring the team more solutions offensively. Although it did do this to a certain extent throughout the game, it did so less as of the 60-minute mark, when Garde decided to make a change.

“I felt that the team was starting to separate in half a little, into more of a 4-2-4,” explained Garde. “Since our opponent made some changes as well, I thought the team would be more balanced finishing off the last half hour in a 4-3-3.”

Considering the end result, he was right. Whether or not this formation will be used again remains unclear, although the next opportunity to do so will be against FC Dallas on Saturday, June 9 at 8PM EDT (TVA Sports, 98.5fm, TSN Radio 690).