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KaCS All-Star XVIII & Tactical Shape

On Wednesday, the MLS All-Stars will play Manchester United looking for revenge after the humiliating defeat they suffered last year. The team of 32 was picked by the fans, players, Hans Backe and Don Garber. Only 22 will be available to play and Keepi...

27 Jul 2011, 18:47 IST
On Wednesday, the MLS All-Stars will play Manchester United looking for revenge after the humiliating defeat they suffered last year. The team of 32 was picked by the fans, players, Hans Backe and Don Garber. Only 22 will be available to play and Keeping a Clean Sheet feels that the most deserving squad will not be on display.
    Therefore, instead of previewing the match, we have selected our own squad to face the Red Devils.
Starting XI
    Commanding from the back will be the experienced Colombian Faryd Mondragon. He has spear headed the stingiest defense in MLS, leading them to top in the East. Mondragon will bring experience which will help organize an unfamiliar back four.
    In front of Mondragon will be fellow Spanish speakers Jamison Olave and Carlos Valdes. Olave is a big physical defender who is not afraid to use his size in the air and his strength to muscle strikers off the ball. Often under looked is his speed in catching up to attackers in the clear. Valdes will be more of the Pique to Olave’s Puyol. He loves to get forward during open play and set pieces which could provide a different element in attack.
    Lacking quality options, the left back spot was wide open.  Heath Pearce earns the nod over Bobby Convey who has been injured and played midfield. Pearce offers European experience to combat United’s dangerous wingers. On the other side, the selection of Jan Gunnar Solli was an easier one. Solli’s arsenal includes a great passing range, which has propelled him to the top of the assist chart.
    The most influential player in the side and arguably the best
player in MLS this year has been Ozzy Alonso. Alonso plays as a lone holding midfielder for Seattle and covers touchline to touchline. Also, he is great at starting the attack from his deep lying position.
    Slightly in front of Alonso will be Juninho and Brad Davis. Juninho normally plays deeper for the Galaxy but we want to use his creative qualities and his long range striking capabilities. Brad Davis has had another strong season for Houston. He plays more as a box to box midfielder for Dominic Kinnear, having the ability to create chances and harass opposing central midfielders.
    In regards to our three man strike force, a unique shape has been utilized. Brek Shea is an obvious candidate to start at left wing. His midweek golazo v Toronto has arguably propelled him to MVP front runner. Currently tied for second in goal scoring, Shea has carried the Dallas attack after the injury to David Ferreira. On the right side, Landon Donovan was the obvious choice. He is the face of the league and one of the leading goal scorers despite missing a month at the Gold Cup. Despite the poor form of Juan Pablo Angel, the Galaxy are in contention for the Supporters Shield because of Donovan’s goal scoring.
    Centering the front three will be Thierry Henry. Henry is leading the MLS golden boot chase with 11 goals. More impressively, he has played in a deeper position than he did at Arsenal and Barcelona. Henry has been asked to move between the midfield and attack to create chances for New York. This has resulted in four assists and him making deep runs from midfield to find shooting positions.
     Backing up Mondragon would be Nick Rimando from Salt Lake. There were plenty of candidates for this role, but we went with consistency. Rimando is one of the most steady MLS goalkeepers, which is why he was called into the Gold Cup roster in May.
     At center back, Omar Gonzalez just missed out on a starting bid, mainly because of his absences due to injury. There is no doubt he is rounding out into one of the best center backs in MLS. Gonalez has partnered well with DeLaGarza to form the strongest defensive pairing in MLS. George John from FC Dallas has become a household name this season. He was great last season leading Dallas to the MLS Cup and has followed up that season with another stellar campaign. With Dallas struggling at times to score, John has had to rally the troops in defense to stifle the opposition. Similarly to John, Chad Marshall has had to forge a strong defensive team to try and make up for a poor attack in Columbus. The Crew are tied atop the Eastern Conference after losing their best player, Guillermo Schelloto, in the offseason. Marshall is a towering presence and would have seen action for the US in the Gold Cup if not for injuries.
     In the midfield, we went with another holding player in Kyle Beckerman. He captained Real Salt Lake to the Concacaf Champions League Final and is undoubtedly their team leader. Beckerman provides a calming influence on the ball and is known for his intensity, often seen in his verbal disputes with the opposing players and referees.
     As far as super subs, we have two different striker options on the bench. Eric Hassli came to Vancouver as a little known French target man. He has been the lone bright spot for the Whitecaps and has scored the best goal in MLS this season. Hassli is a great back to goal center forward but also makes clever runs in the channels, as seen last week v San Jose. Our other option is Freddy Montero from Seattle. Montero had a slow start to the season and many wrote him off as not being able to carry a team. Well, he answered the critics and is leading the line for the most exciting MLS team this season. Freddy has the ability to score from a free kick and he likes to drop behind a strike partner to pick up the ball.
Man Utd Setup
    Sir Alex Ferguson will most likely use his preferred 4-4-2 formation. We know that Chicharito will be rested by Ferguson, but other than that, we are not sure how much time the starters will see. For this articles sake, we will assume United will begin one of the halves with their best lineup. Rooney will play in his #10 position and will rely on his wingers to try and create. Many criticize United’s central midfield of Carrick and Giggs, which is what we believe is the weakest point, but the weakest point of a great team is still quite strong. For this we will pack the midfield to try and stifle their attack before it can get started.
Tactical Approach v Man Utd
     As manager of this imaginary match, KaCS will employ a hybrid 4-4-2 diamond formation. However, Brek Shea and Landon Donovan will be the wide players and wingers. The two can make runs from their wide positions to try and find space in the channels. Henry, Juninho and Davis have the ability to find the two forwards. Henry would play as a withdrawn striker to try and find space between the United midfield and defense. If he found space, Ferdinand or Vidic would be required to close him down leaving space open for a diagonal run from Shea or Donovan.
     Defensively, the team would drop into a 4-5-1 shell. We would keep the pressure low until the United attack reached the center circle. Shea or Donovan would be the point man on defense harassing Vidic and Ferdinand. Henry would drop back, teaming up with Juninho to try and cut off the supply to Carrick and Giggs. Davis and Shea/Donovan would drop to provide cover to the falnks. Alonso would be directly responsible for marking Rooney out of the match, since he so often dropped into a playmaker position last season. Olave and Valdes could handle the movements of Berbatov. The biggest danger though would come from the flanks. Young and Nani would cause problems for Pearce and Solli.
     Look out for a review of the actual match and send us your thoughts on the game via twitter @kpngacleansheet and Facebook.
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