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Let's talk about formation

How does Patrick Vieira differ from Jason Kreis?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No, I'm not talking about Beyonce's video -- although that video is awesome, and I can't stop listening to the song. I'm talking about how New York City lines up.

There was some manner of tsuris, or agita, if you will, when Kwadwo Poku didn't make it onto the field last Sunday against Chicago. The consternation was further fueled by the reigning bridge troll of American soccer, Eric Wynalda. Wynalda wasted no time in demanding that Poku be moved on from New York City, because they cannot appreciate his protégé's unique gifts, or something. Then Poku didn't make an appearance during the annual Media Day. Combine that with the trade of Andrew Jacobson for targeted allocation money, and we can all put 2+2 together, right?

Wait, what? Huh? What bizarre fever dream is this?

Poku isn't going anywhere. That he didn't make it onto the field means little. It bears repeating: Poku is an incredibly raw product. He fairly exploded onto MLS last year, but as we're seeing with the current difficulties that the Red Bulls are enduring, the league is nothing if not endlessly adaptable. We can be certain that teams spent much of the off-season scouting Poku, and figuring out ways of neutralizing him; in fact, that was already happening last year.

Patrick Vieira has a number of puzzles to figure out. One of these is how best to deploy Poku. One idea I mooted last season was to utilize him as a second striker. Which is why the probable formation in today's game guide is intriguing. It moots a wider 4-3-3:

Which brings up another thing. We've speculated that Vieira could shift to three at the back in order to use the vast numbers of midfielders on the Blues' roster. Last week, he went with a narrow 4-3-3, which didn't exactly work; Chicago ravaged the central midfield all through the first half. Part of this is because you're asking Andrea Pirlo to defend, which isn't ever going to happen. That meant that Tommy McNamara and Mix Diskerud had to cover for him; Diskerud, in particular, had a Sisyphean task in his hands.

Today's proposed lineup in the guide is one way of handling that. We'll see if that's what Vieira goes with for today's game.

So how do you solve that? That's one of the fascinating questions of this young season. We'll see if Vieira has better answers than Jason Kreis did last season, but on the evidence of last week's game, it certainly looks that way.