Pigeon Analysis – The Starting 11

NYCFC have now completed two of their Pre-Season games in Abu-Dhabi and are now stateside, looking to be back in full fitness with the next games against Florida (2/16) and Minnesota (2/20) followed by a Nashville SC Friendly (2/21). With the potent attacking power of Alexandru Mitriţă, Maxi Moralez, Jonathan Lewis, etc, there can be a lot of possibilities within Dome Torrent’s Formation and Starting Lineup.

Formations and Tactics

4-3-3 (Attacking Formation)

As spoken by Dome Torrent as his favorite position to go by, it will be a staple lineup that will be used the majority of NYCFC games.

The back four (Matarrita, Callens, Chanot, Tinnerholm) are a solid line up that wont change throughout the various formations mentioned in this post. But because of potential rumors of Callens’ departure, he may be swapped around for Ben Sweat (who has impressed as Centre Back, a more comfortable role for him as shown during these last preseason games.)

Ronald Matarrita is comfortable with the ball and is creatively more assertive in attacking football, while dribbling through defenders as opposed to Ben Sweat (although Ben Sweat has had some key passes and a few assists so far in his time with NYCFC). Matarrita isn’t afraid to press forward and is able to retreat back if need be. If he is healthy throughout the majority of the Season, he would be the ideal starter for LB (Left Back).

Anton Tinnerholm is the ideal choice and has been quintessential as the starting Right Back. Great pressing as well as good command of his line, he isn’t afraid to beat the midfield/defenders and create Key Passes/Assists.

Alexandru Mitriţă has been stellar on the left wings prior to his time in NYCFC and is capable of cutting through defenders with his height. He should have no trouble with finding the back of the net, given the proper assist from either Maxi, Shradi, Tinnnerholm, etc.


 Jesus Medina can alternate between Mitriţă as Left Winger. His last season saw him netting 7 Goals and 6 Assists, out of 28 Games Played. While riddled with some nicks throughout the season, this season should prove to be his breakout year.

With this formation, Mitriţă will pull closer down to the Midfield and receive long balls from the backline. This will only be effective if Dome gives Mitriţă the freedom to move around and be lethal when he feels is the right time.

However, as a 4-3-3 Formation goes, it leaves a gaping hole being exposed to counter attack (something that New York Red Bulls take great pride of). Against a high press team in the start of their counter attack, this would leave Chanot and Callens to cover the defenses, if Mataritta/Tinnerholm are too high/far in the press.

In a more defensive formation, Matarrita/Tinnerholm would have to pull back and move closer towards the midfield and not be as aggressive in the press, but it would take foresight and control of the Midfield. Possession is rarely an issue for NYCFC, as the average in their 2017-2018 Season was 56% on average.

Another big issue within NYCFC’s 4-3-3 Formation is if Maximiliano Moralez, NYCFC’s #10, is ever stopped from receiving the ball. Atlanta United knew coming into the MLS 2018 Playoffs against NYCFC, a stunted Maxi (no pun intended) interrupts the connection of attack between the Midfield and the Wingers, thus forcing fewer plays, and more defensive maneuvers/playing from the back.

Its rare to see Alex Ring out of form, but should he fall due to injury, the combination of James Sands/Ebenezer Ofori may prove to be effective in the Midfield, especially with how defensive Ofori works towards the ball. Attributing to 10.6% of Touches per Game, Ofori also has a ~90% Pass Completion and would help to keep the Midfield stable.

4-5-1 (Defense is a Strong Offense)

While the 4-5-1 isn’t necessarily a completely defensive formation, it is generally agreed that it promotes a stronger synergy in terms of defense. The basic premise is that it allows for a stronger counter attack, while maintaining coverage from all channels. It covers the majority of the field, and allows for movement to be solidified from both the back line and wingers.

NYCFC has consistently looked better in the 2017-18 Season with their press and counter-attack. (An average of 16 Counter Attacks per Game) This formation helps promote the counter attack and quick plays that otherwise would be stopped in the 4-3-3 formation. In order to be effective in the counter attack, players must be disciplined in tackling without costing a foul, and intercept the ball well. Not only does the formation lead itself to that play style, but the players within NYCFC lend itself to this
as well.

The main role to be looked at in this formation is the job that Alexandru Mitriţă will have to support in the attack. A lone striker, he will have to be calm and collected when approaching the goal. If there is any indication during his time at Universitatea Craiova, he can do just that. His work from Attacking Midfield will let him see a lot of runs from the Midfield. In this formation, we can see that Maxi would have the ability to pass him some decent balls from the side.

CB’s (Centre Backs) are tasked with heading the ball away, tackling and blocking any incoming threat from the opposition. Whether it be marking zones or man-to-man, Maxime Chanot and Ben Sweat have no problem getting the ball away from an opposing striker.

Ben Sweat would be the ideal choice in this formation, if given the choice to be CB. He’s had his fair share of costly mistakes, but with enough discipline, he can prove to be a proper short-term, if not long-term replacement, should Alexander Callens head to Allianza Lima. Great tackling and can thread between the opposition with relative ease. If given the opportunity/freedom, he can make a key pass to a Winger, which is not foreign for him to do.

This is not the first choice formation, but would be great against 4-3-3 Teams, or teams with high pressing abilities. Teams that go for shorter passes for a proper build-up would be stopped with the proper interception and open NYCFC to a potential goal scoring opportunity. The end result is to get a goal, but counter attacks lead into fouls, usually from the opposition, which lead into free kicks or penalties.

4-2-3-1 (Balance and Mobility)

The 4-2-3-1 Formation would be the second best Formation for an attack in NYCFC. Very similar to the 4-3-3, this attacking unit consists of three attacking midfielders and a lone central striker. Both Medina and Shradi are fast and can cut between defenders, most notably, Ismael Tajouri Shradi can cut inside defenders and run to the box. 

Often times, he’s just as lethal kicking it from deep as well, which is something he isn’t afraid to do.

Maxi is not just creative, but is keen on making key passes to the wingers/centre forwards. As long as he has the space to do so, and has a Midfielder who is capable of moving the ball forward, he will create magic.

As long as the ball is won back, whether it be Tony Rocha or Alexander Ring, the 4-2-3-1 can spring into attack.

In bad days, the formation can easily be manipulated into a 4-5-1 Formation, poised for counterattacking, should the opposition try to disband the flow within the Midfield. This would leave Miti to fend for himself, but given the right pass, can be a goal scoring opportunity.

As long as the defense in the midfield is solidified, there should be no problem with giving Maxi the opportunity to pass the ball around. Its no surprise that a Maxi/Ring combination is the sole rock of our lineup. As long as Maxi does not get shut out by other defenders, nor does the Left and Right back force themselves to a pure defensive role, we can see great things come out of this formation.