It was a great start to the Vancouver Whitecaps season. The Caps defeated the Montreal Impact 2-1 at home with new signing Kei Kamara and teenage sensation Alphonso Davies scoring the goals.
While the new signing and the wunderkind received much of the attention after the match, some of the accolades also need to go Carl Robinson’s way. The Vancouver head coach surprised Montreal head coach Rémi Garde with a new tactical approach by fielding a 4-1-4-1 formation — moving away from club’s traditional 4-2-3-1 formation.
It will be interesting to see what tactical approach Robinson will come up with when the Whitecaps hit the road this weekend. They’ll travel first down to Houston to take on the Dynamo and then to Georgia to face Atlanta United.
Vancouver in the past has been the best traveling side in the Western Conference, and they are tied with Toronto FC and New York City FC for the most road wins in the league the past three seasons — all three had 17.
With plenty of new faces, Robinson now feels the Whitecaps have “a really strong squad.”
Traditionally, Robinson has not changed his matchday tactics from game to game, but with the depth of this year’s roster — especially in midfield — that could change.
“We got players jumping on bits to play, there will be possibly a couple of changes, how many I can’t tell you, but don’t be surprised if you do see some. It is no disrespect to the players, who played Sunday because they put in some positive performances,” Robinson said Wednesday. “The reason we carry a strong squad is for certain reasons, and against different personal there are better matchups, I believe, and there might be one or two changes.”
He also pointed out that both Houston and Atlanta are good attacking sides that can score plenty of goals. As a result, Robinson called out Montreal’s late goal as a mistake needing to be avoided going forward.
With Vancouver about to face two attack-minded sides and newly acquired Felipe Martins likely available to play, Robinson could switch his team from 4-1-4-1 to the more traditional 4-2-3-1 formation or a three-man defense.
Playing a 3-5-2, allowing for an extra midfielder and two strikers up top, or 3-4-1-2, which was used in preseason at times, would enable Vancouver to build on its counter-style football — which could be the right recipe when the Caps face the firepower of the next two opponents.