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Jermaine Jones: USMNT’s new 3-5-2 ‘not easy’

Jermaine Jones by Robert Mayer USA TODAY
Photo by Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports


The U.S. Men’s National Team debut of the 3-5-2 has been a major talking point since last week’s loss to Chile. Reviews have been mixed, but newly christened defender Jermaine Jones needs some more time to figure it out, he said.

“I always say when I lose, I don’t play good. I don’t feel I was playing good,” Jones told from the StubHub Center, where the USMNT will face Panama on Sunday. “Of course, new formation, new system (and new position), it’s not easy. I would say I prefer, of course, to play more midfield, but if I go back (to the backline), I prefer to play in a back four.

“Still, the coach has an idea with three in the back, but sometimes it’s tough. To see that formation, see that whole system, for me it’s not easy.”

Indeed, the formation — and the new role that came along with it — was uncharted territory for Jones, who normally plays as a central midfielder. Friday’s 3-2 loss to Chile was Jones’ first time playing in the middle of a three-man back line, and although he showed glimmers of what could be, his discomfort showed, too.

Klinsmann, who this week blamed the USMNT’s recent dropped results on a lack of fitness, insists that the 3-5-2 has promise for the Americans if the crowded group of midfielders put in the necessary defensive duty.

It also gives Jones a chance to shine, he said.

“Overall, I think it’s a very interesting system, because Jermaine is one, he can come out of the center and become a midfielder or a forward,” Klinsmann said. “He can surprise an opponent. An opponent doesn’t know who takes on this guy – ‘What is he doing now suddenly?’ – so he can play in many different ways.”

Klinsmann told reporters he doesn’t yet know what formation the USMNT will come out in for Sunday’s match and the team continues to train with different formations. But the 3-5-2 is very much an option and the system will remain a long-term card for the team to play, Klinsmann said.

For Jones, that shouldn’t be a problem, even though he prefers playing in the midfield or in a four-man back line. Once he and his teammates get comfortable with the 3-5-2, they will get to where they need to be, he said.

“You have to build a relationship with the back four, with the guys next to you,” Jones said. “This is building over a couple games, so it’s not easy, but I’m 100 percent sure that we’ll come there.”


What do you think of Jones’ reaction to the 3-5-2? What do you make of Klinsmann’s assessment of how Jones can play in the new system? And which formation would you like to see the USMNT utilize on Sunday?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. There are defensible reasons for playing Jones at CB. Wanting him to surprise the other team by running out of the backline and becoming a forward is not one of them.

  2. Why switch formations? 2013 and first half of 2014 were the best records in USMNT history. Why use a formation thats clearly not working?

    • Yeah, clearly. After a few games with players that have no experience with it.
      We were such a damn good team before, that experimenting with something new is a horrible idea.
      Come on people…it’s not like we just won the World Cup.
      The US is a mediocre team, and taking some time to try new things is a fine thing to do at this point.
      All that matters at this point is having the best team possible in July for the Gold Cup.

    • I believe it has everything to do with a desire to get more midfielders on the field, while playing two up top. He realizes they have to be more dangerous, Jozy is not cut out for the hold up role. In fact, there isn’t a hold up forward anywhere in the pool, at the highest level.
      Just my two cents.

    • I think JK believes Jones brings intangibles to the squad that nobody else can replicate, and that defender is the only position he will capable of playing in the upcoming cycle. Unfortunately, it seems forced, and I think it is going fail; but for me, that is okay, because I feel that are a number of capable central defenders that can step in.

    • I think JK plays people out of position because he wants to have people think he’s some kind of genius for discovering a players “true position” I can’t think of any of these switches that really works well.

      Kind of reminds me of the biggest choke of all time in the Superbowl. Why go with what has been working all game…run the ball. Noooooooooo Somebody knows better… lets pass it. Game over…lmao the fools. JK should also go with what works and that means using a player in a position he excels at, not somewhere else cause JK knows better. JK = Pete Carroll

      • Um, yeah, if Pete Carroll had run that stupid play in practice.
        That’s what friendlies are…practice!
        JK should go with what works? Tell me, what exactly works? Are you happy with a decent team that’ll challenge for the Gold Cup, or do you actually want the USMNT to improve? We know what they’re capable of in the 442. Not all that much.
        Why not at least try something new…and give it the time it needs to see it it works or not?

        If JK runs an untested system in the Gold Cup, and we lose badly, then we’ll talk. Until then, give the guy a chance to experiment.

  3. When you have to convert a midfielder in a position that we are stacked in what does that tell you of the confidence our coaches have in our defenders?
    Oguchi Onyewu (and before you say anything he is younger than Jones with a lot more experience in the position….lol)
    Tim Rim (90 championship player, currently playing against Liverpool FA cup)
    Heath pearce
    Eric Lichaj
    Maurice Edu (Midfielder converted but in MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    Omar Gonzalez (MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    A.J. DeLaGarza
    Matt Besler (MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    Seth Sinovic
    Matt Hedges (MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    Zach Loyd
    Bobby Boswell (MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    Steven Birnbaum
    Sean Franklin
    Andrew Farrell (MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    Chris Klute
    Justin Morrow (MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    Chad Marshall (MLS 10 best defenders 2014)
    You mean to tell me Klinsmann and staff can’t train, develop put together a 3 man back-line using the best of these players? Yet you grab our best midfielder and try to convert him to a defender, a player who will be 36 in 2018 going up against very quick young world class opposition…… and want him to be very active going up front too?

    • I think he may be a little old and I also think JK is done looking at him but in the past, when he was getting all his awards and recognition, Michael Parkhurst was the center defender of a 3 man back line. He knows very well how to play that position. He didnt knock people down, he simply intercepted the pass coming to them. Over and over again

    • That someone receives a league accolade or competes in a particular league does not mean he can play well either at the international level or in a 352.

      I mean, Lightning Boswell? Dive-in champs Gonzo and Cameron? The guys who just gave up 3 goals and plenty of chances? Gooch who can’t stop Antigua? etc. etc. You are overrating our defense the whole point is it’s been leaking goals to Ireland, Chile, you name it.

      America makes keepers. We have had much stronger defensive eras. This is actually a down ebb. It does not scream 3 back. It doesn’t say we have such quality in back we can push one up. It screams help! I mean, did the people arguing in favor of this watch Chile?

      • The Imperative Voice when you say “does not mean he can play well either at the international level or in a 3-5-2” I would agree with you about 1 maybe 2 players but not all of them…….That’s like saying just because you get an “A” in class doesn’t mean you know the subject. Although that might stand true for one student in that class it wont stand true with multiple students.
        Tim Ream played 90 mins today for Bolton, down to 10 men in the 66 min, playing center back….center back, against Daniel Sturridge, against Raheem Sterling…Liverpool won by the skin of there teeth. How can you try to Incorporate a player like that in our system when you are converting midfielders with no experience at CB.
        Michael Parkhurst, showing his form in Columbus, played in the UEFA cup, gone up successful against top opposition at right back….How would you know well he’ll play if you don’t try him?
        Bosewell….helped lock down the defense against a pissed off Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich/MLS All-star (preseason for them or not its Bayern!!!!)……how would you know how well he fits in the system or who he plays well with?
        All I’m saying is that with all that talent you can’t tell me you cant put together a 3 man back line….to a point where you need to convert Jermaine Jones, a player with NO center back experience.

      • Boswell gets burned in MLS every so often for speed, which is why he is no longer USMNT. Ditto Parkhurst. Bright intuitive defenders but at a certain point you can either stay with a fast guy or not. You’re talking all star game for Boswell and Parkhurst washed back out of big time Europe.

        Ream, have you forgotten him getting burned for the Nats years back? I think he’s overrated as a distributor and a poor defender. He has Bolton fooled but is not international level. He’s like the Wondo of the defense.

        Besler and Jones are the only ones who’ve shown me international level chops at CB and even they are inconsistent. The whole problem at back is you have a bunch of interesting players or MLS lunchpail types who are good but not all that great. They can cross or score but can’t defend. They dive in. They’re slow. Lot of flawed players who haven’t worked out their kinks. No real can’t miss Bocas or Popes who have height and athleticism, can play in the air, score goals, and defend well.

        I blame the development system but for the purposes of taling formation what matters is there aren’t enough really good players to get cute. When we have the Richard Shermans of the backline developed, then we can talk 352. But I wouldn’t trust our pool to get clean sheets with 4 or 5 back.

      • pass and present performance are 2 different things (ask my Idol Freddy Adu)….and positioning, ball control and understanding the attack is more beneficial then speed (Boswell against Bayern, Parkhurst against chelsea, yesterday – Ream against liverpool)

  4. “I prefer to play in the midfield…I prefer to play in a back four.” Yup, he’s starting in the middle of a back 3. Klinsy plays people out of position to test them. A player’s best position is one in which he is challenged, says die Klinsy.

    You prefer to play striker? I play you in midfield, says Klinsy. You need to challenge yourself to reach the highest level. And play in Europe!

    Klinsy don’t care, he don’t give a ****.

  5. My 3-6-1 in FIFA is unbeatable you guys! 😛

    Why not give it a shot w/ USMNT?


      • As you said, F. Johnson for Shea.

        And, I’m sorry, but Besler is just not good enough for the international level. Maybe it’s a KC thing (i.e. Zusi), but he is not strong enough (physically or mentally). Great guy, hard worker, but that’s not enough.

        For me that spot needs to be either Orozco or Ream…but Ream has similar problems to Besler.

        Where’s 25 year-old Boca when you need him!

      • Given the quality of his performance at the World Cup, I think it’s harsh to say that Besler is just not good enough for the international level. His speed could be essential to the success of the 3 back formation.

      • You mean getting punked by Lukaku on a number of occasions and scary touches in a number of games….?

        I don’t think it’s harsh, at all.

        And, did you see the Chile game? First goal – all Besler’s fault.

      • hes playing in a flat back 3 with fellow unfamiliar players, getting your mark mixed up is expected.

        Ream and Orozco as guys who have more strength? WTF are you smoking?

      • the point is Ream and Orozco have played in a 3-5-2 at the club level. in Puebla’s case, almost an entire season. so they would be more comfortable and less likely to lose their marks. not a hard theory to understand.

      • Wish I was smoking something, than I’d be more mellow in responding to you.

        Certainly Orozco has more strength. Ream and Besler are probably a wash. Ream hasn’t been given enough reps. I think he can handle that LCB role in a 3-back system.

        Besler cannot. Period.

      • Besler had a quality performance? i’m not so sure about that. and he’s been pretty awful since the WC. that said, i do agree his speed and passing ability is great for this formation. but he needs to snap out of it.

      • this logic has to change. one mistake and a player is incapable of ever playing at a high level?!?! i can pinpoint bonehead plays for every player who start at the World Cup. give me a break.

        instead, you could point to the fact that, as a whole, Orozco has never really excelled with the US. always does enough to avoid harsh criticism, but doesn’t do enough, consistently, to separate himself.

    • I don’t think wer should rip the guy who played better than anyone at the WC. Everyone said he would get stupid cards, make dumb fouls and turn the ball over. A few on this site said he was selective in his fouls and cards. He rose to the occasion. He has done it at a higher level than anyone on the team. I’d say people are throwing rocks at the tallest tower we have. He is still adjusting. But he will be strong here as well, I believe.

  6. Come on Jones it has nothing to do with it being hard to play a new position in a new formation with yet again new teammates, you’re just not fit. I know you and Charlie Davies have been sitting around eating nachos and drinking milkshakes.

  7. There is little room for error in a 3-5-2 and I trust Jones a lot more in the middle than Gonzo. The real problem in all of this is when will JK address the substandard play of people he’s starting and do something about it? Bradley, Dempsey… these guys seem to be past their expiration date. Shea… Forget about it once and for all. Bobby Wood? Wondo…IDC what formation you’re talking about, we need to find the players that are cutting it now and stop relying on yesterday’s stars. THen and only then can we move forward

    • Exactly NaNa,
      But need to only get rid of the old if there is a new player talented enough to take his place. We have a lot of players who are just coasting though and their value dropped a little but this year is going to be a little different. We now have most of the older regulars in MLS playing and competing in the same league, attacking or defending against the same opposition, with all the up and coming youngsters. So evaluation will be easier because its not about where you play anymore its about how you play…..

  8. I think we (soccer fans in general and the media) get caught up in the latest soccer trends. Currently “possession” based football is all the rage. You will often hear team management say things like we want to play an “attractive attacking brand” of football, easier said than done. There is no shame in playing to your strengths and maybe the USMNT is just still not able to play the style that JK wants.

    • I am all for experimenting at this juncture, but you raise some good points. Jose Mourinho has great players at Chelsea, but is not at all averse to playing a bunker defense/counter attack strategy when he thinks the situation calls for it. And he’s had much success. I am wondering. Can anyone think of teams that have had success with the 3-5-2? For several years Monterrey in League MX won championships with that formation, but then when they got to the FIFA club championships they were exposed by the real good teams. Any other examples?

  9. It seems like JK will throw anything at the wall to see if it will stick, but aint nothing sticking. Granted JK has had his success managing the USMNT (and im a JK fan) but in regards to style of play and formation he has left a lot to be desired. He started out preaching a fluid style be deployed by a 4-3-3, no dice. Next we went with the flavor o the month 4-2-3-1, with mixed results. It seemed JK was always trying to avoid the 4-4-2 but then seemingly started to flirt with it leading up to the WC. I realize the injury to Jozy dictated/limited our options once at the WC but my point being is this. JK really needs to develop a sense of style with the USMNT and stick with it. Every call up it seems he tries a new scheme with mixed results. It would be a great benefit to the continuity of the USMNT and program in general if we developed some consistency in regards to formation instead of reinventing the wheel with every new cycle. I know JK has been consistent with his words in this regard and the US program has developed language and guidance for coaching through the ranks but this does not seem to apply to the USMNT who is constantly changing formations and tactics.

  10. Honestly don’t get why Jones is a CB now to Klinsmann. The guy can still play CDM and we need him next to Bradley. Plus Gonzalez, Belser, Cameron, Brooks is already a strong CB pool and the future so we want to make sure they all play a lot.

    • Because Klinsi is smart enough to look beyond this year. Jones won’t keep up his stamina by 2018. CB is his future position. We’ll need his intensity and leadership with so many young guys starting.

    • Because the CBs have been poor — allowing goals on and off for a few years since Boca washed out — and because while Jones is probably too old for CDM in 2018 he might be able to cope as a CB.

      If the pool you describe had earned their spurs we would not be having this discussion.

  11. Why can’t Klinsmann just stick with the 4-4-2. It has always been the best for the USMNT and still is. We have depth at all positions now and a 4-4-2 suits the abilities of the players. The USA excels with 2 box to box midfields and two forwards.

    • There is so much wrong here, I don’t know where to begin.

      “It has always been the best for the USMNT and still is”
      A good coach tailors the formation to the team, he has. Keeping one formation just because we’ve always done it that way is beyond silly.

      “We have depth at all positions now”
      We have lots of decent players now…not depth. Depth is when you have great players and good players backing them up.

      “The US excels with 2 box to box…”
      We excel at nothing. We aren’t good enough to stand pat with anything. Why not try a few new things to see if it helps?

      It’s not like JK is messing with something great.

    • Nice link. I think you are spot on in your assesment. Both the mindset and organizational details seem to not get flushed out fully for the players application on the field.

  12. i like the 3-5-2 a lot; plays to the strengths of the pool. one thing I would add is that keeping an organized, high line with 3 people is much more difficult than your usual 2. id say to JJ; stay a step in front of other 2 cbs at all times – basically the (really) deep #6 destroyer role that everyone wants JJ to play. this should be helpful when we go against guys like Gio and Ruiz in the GC.

  13. i think this says it all. if we stick with a 3-5-2, maybe using Jones at CB is not a good idea. maybe that means playing him in midfield when going with this formation or maybe it means benching him. but a 4-in-the-back formation with Jones at CB seems like the best option if we want to use him in defense.

    Brooks (CB), Cameron (RCB, CB), Besler (LCB), Omar (CB), Birnbaum (RCB), Orozco (RCB), Ream (LCB), etc. are all comfortable in a 3-5-2. a guy like Alvarado could be as well given his time at RB and CB. his speed and passing make him a natural fit for a RCB position in a 3-5-2. point is, we have options and don’t need to force Jones into playing a position he does not feel comfortable in.

    • why? after 45 minutes? 45 minutes in which we actually played well and were winning? we lost the game after going 4-4-2…

      with guys like Chandler, Johnson, Brooks, Cameron, etc. all still options that fit a 3-5-2 nicely, why give up on it?

      • Okay, maybe I spoke too soon. Perhaps it can work, but I don’t think Jones is disciplined enough to play in a 3-back line.

        I can see Johnson – Brooks – Cameron. Please no Chandler 🙂

      • Or…suppose we stuck with a 3-5-2. What do you think of this lineup for the Gold Cup?

        ———- Altidore —— Dempsey————
        F. Johnson — —- Bedoya ————— Yedlin
        ———— Jones ———- Bradley ————
        ——- Orozco —- Brooks —– Cameron ——
        ——————– Guzan ———————–

        Bench/Left out:

      • Mostly teams go to a 3 man back line because of a general lack of pace. The 3 man back line requires discipline more than pace – though pace is nice too.

      • i love it. i think the only question is Orozco on the left side. but while Mix and Lee are being thrown around as those more forward CMs, i think Bedoya is a perfect player for that. especially since he plays there for his club more than out wide. i really would like to see that formation.

      • Orozco is a good player for this formation, IMO. Agile, tough and fast. Of the CB pool, I don’t see anyone else that can line up there with the same attributes.

        I had thought about F. Johnson in his place and Garza at left-wing back. But, then FJ is wasted, again IMO.

      • i agree Orozco is a great fit for this 3-5-2…but on the right side. he played that position for Puebla. on the left? Ream. who plays that position for Bolton often. that said, i’m all for giving it a shot.

        yeah no way should FJ play LCB. that would be terrible. and Garza isn’t a wingback. so i think what you have there is about as good as it will get.

      • why not Chandler? the i don’t get the irrational hate for this kid. the guy is in great form (anyone other than Matt Doyle will report that) and is a perfect fit for a wingback role in a 3-5-2. i blame that Honduras game from years ago 🙂

      • It’s not only the Honduras game.

        He has yet to prove anything to me (granted, at the international level). His mental lapses (read; brain-farts) will not fly ever with me, and especially not in a 3-back system.

      • going to have to agree to disagree. i think Chandler gets way too much heat. sure, he always seems to play better for his club than for the US (a reverse Jozy), but the guy is talented. and since he like playing RM, him as a right wingback makes sense. he’s certainly more polished than Yedlin only a bit slower.

      • Good points. I’d still prefer Yedlin. To each his own. Thanks for the intelligent discussion. Those are few and far between on this site (and others).

      • it amazes me that Ream can’t get more of a look from this coaching staff smh….I think Ream would be fantastic as the left sided CB in a 3-man back line with JJ, Besler or Omar in the middle with Cameron on the right. There are plenty of options for wingbacks on the left in FJ, Garza and maybe Rogers(I guess Shea too)as well as on the right in Chandler, Yedlin, Bedoya and even Lichaj! Competition breads improvement and I think a 3-5-2 sets us up well looking at our defensive depth chart.

        Cameron, Birnbaum, O’neill(although he hasn’t played) would be fighting for the right sided CB. OG, JAB, Hedges for the Center spot and Ream, Besler for the left side. What do you guys think?

      • I think Ream was not released by Bolton to participate in this camp and these games.

        And since this is the first run out of the 3-5-2 you had no chance to see him play in it.

      • The scoreline was misleading. They were routinely getting around and behind the defense, just not converting.

        I thought the problem was that we were playing zone in what I consider to be a “man” formation. I also know from playing on a 3 man backline in college that it requires the defenders to be extremely self-sufficient. Everyone needs to be a spotless man marker with athleticism because there is no redundancy.

        I also think in a 352 you need wings willing to track back for 90 and that was not what I saw against Chile. If they don’t the flanks are easily exposed.

        I don’t see it working. We don’t have 3 Eddie Popes or Bocas. The wings don’t want to get back, they want to get in the attack. You might even score more goals playing this way but you will give up more too.

      • “I thought the problem was that we were playing zone in what I consider to be a “man” formation. I also know from playing on a 3 man backline in college that it requires the defenders to be extremely self-sufficient. Everyone needs to be a spotless man marker with athleticism because there is no redundancy.”

        agreed, but i think it *could* happen with our personnel. cameron is a great fit for the rcb spot, and i think brooks/besler could do well as a lcb. i know people are tired of gonzo, but i think he makes sense if we want to have a ‘stay-at-home’ cb in the middle. if we’re really trying the libero role, then jones could work, but *only* if the 2 other defenders are identified early and are given lots of time to build chemistry.

        we have two ready-made wingbacks in fabian and chandler (yes, shea and yedlin are way too attacking-oriented), so i’m not ready to give up on the 3-5-2 yet, because i’d love to see what happens if we plug the right players in the right spots.

      • You just mentioned 2 backs who routinely dive in, Cameron and Gonzo. They are precisely what you can’t rely on in a formation with little available help. In a 352 you have to clean up your own messes and basically try not to make them in the first place. I don’t think we have the personnel.

        I’m also not sure we have the two way wings to secure the flanks. We haven’t had that since Dempsey and Donovan were used wide. FJ, Castillo, Yedlin, Shea, etc. they all want to work harder in the attack than on defense. The formation allows for no such slack.

      • it doesn’t matter. 45 minutes in a formation is not a big enough sample size to kill it with fire. especially in a January camp without some of our better players (granted, more of them are there). i’m not saying i LOVE the 3-5-2, but it’s early.

        i also think FJ would absolutely do the required work. he’s a workhorse. and we all know Bedoya would. i’d rather have him in the CM position, but he played a few times at RWB for his club and the dude doesn’t ever stop running.

      • Sample size? What about recent friendlies gives you the idea that any variation on the talent pool is up to the job with fewer, not more, men back? If anything we’ve struggled with a full compliment of 4.

        352 is a formation when your marking backs are so good they don’t need help. Has anything recently hinted that’s the case? No. Only Jones occasionally plays well. It’s like the 433 concepts we try, a theoretically interesting concept ill suited to the personnel actually on hand. You don’t need several games to learn the lesson we’re leaking too much to pursue an even more pressured defensive alignment.

      • this is not complicated, so please, lets not make it complicated. we do not have a big enough sample size to rate our 3-5-2. it’s that simple. now, with that said, we can move to a new conversation…

        that would be do we have the players capable of playing it. i think that’s up for debate and certainly see your concerns. and you may be right. but for you to categorically say we are incapable of the 3-5-2 is wrong. everyone said Jones at LM was dumb and look how he played at the WC.

        of course i agree we have a small window to try it out, but testing it in the January camp shouldn’t be the first and final test.

      • So you have to bang your head on a wall several times before we can say by sample size it’s dumb to do? The flaws in relation to personnel are facially apparent an don’t need to be “tested.” You need to either find new people or find a formation that hides, rather than exacerbates, their flaws.

        When you have a weak argument “move on” is a non-starter. There is no self evidence here to respect. We just lost 3-2. That evidence tends to support my concerns we’re not suited. The onus is on you to prove your point.

        There may be a point in the future when we have a Pope and Boca to play this way but we don’t now. We have a defense that has driven us nuts for months with 4 back that you want to shrink to 3 back. You’re elevating form over substance.

        I wouldn’t waste time on tests that are Doomed From the Start. My club and college played 352 because I and my marking back mates could do our job by ourselves and it freed attackers. I cannot say that about the USMNT at its level. It destabilizes the defense even worse.

      • Additionally, isn’t the whole point to the article this world class player grumbling about the difficulty of the formation while he plays it? But you were making a 10000 foot high comment about sample size……

      • Imperative – why bang your head on anything? it’s an experiment. building up a sample size is part of the process. i’m not saying play it for a year, I’m saying it’s been 45 minutes…so lets get 1-2 games in before making a final decision. one guy, Jones, does poorly in the 3-5-2 and says he doesn’t like it and you want to scrap the formation altogether?!

        yes, the onus IS on JK to prove the 3-5-2. so far, he’s only had 45 minutes to do so. that’s MY point. i have no idea if our players will be able to pull it off. but, despite what you say, there was enough consensus that the 3-5-2 actually looked promising at time. certainly needs some player selection tweaking, but it COULD be a viable option.

        so how am i being ridiculous in saying i would not mind seeing it again but with some changes?

      • In a 442 you can switch off player coverage in close proximity and the central players are coverable from each side. In a 352 I have little or no help and my linemates may be yards away. I have to be able to mark my guy out of the match and not make a lot of mistakes.

        Besides Jones, there’s really no one who consistently fits that bill. There is no point in trying a self-reliant defense scheme for stud defenders when we don’t have any. You cover for weak defenders by tipping the formation back or playing 4 or 5 on the backline, not by pushing people up and dropping down to 3. Dropping down to 3 ensures that our weak defenders get exposed.

        In contrast, we have more than 2 good forwards. We could play 3 up top and fill the line adequately. But trying 3 in the back assumes we have 3 stud backs we don’t even have. No point bothering with formations we don’t have the personnel for. If Ireland B can ream us for 4 playing a flat 4 there’s no point in dropping a back against better teams.

        I get it’s an experiment, but a wise coach is considering his personnel when he tinkers with formation and style. We don’t have the talent or defensive chops for 352.

    • I liked the formation. I think a big reason it didn’t work defensively was Dempsey failing to track back and help out even a little bit. Though I’m not a huge fan of Jones at CB, I don’t think he was the biggest culprit. You could also argue whether it was wise to play Mix in that position, but that’s a different debate.


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