Gary Smith played an incredibly rigid 4-5-1 formation for the start of his Colorado Rapids career, before eventually shifting to a still rigid 4-4-2 late in 2010 because of a need for extra offense in the defense-minded team. Both of the formations were dedicated mostly to holding the ball as much as possible, staying in their shape and focusing on incredibly short and frequent passes throughout the midfield and defense before finally putting a ball through to one of the strikers for the majority of their shots and goals.
With the new regime in place, it's likely that we're going to see a system far more focused on offense all around the pitch, not just a defensive team with decent fullbacks and two good strikers. That means that it's pretty unlikely that we'll see anything rigid out of the team formation-wise in 2012. Here's three formations that I think we might see in 2012, which one do you want the Rapids to try out?
Signings We'd Need To Make - At least one more pure attacking midfielder (#10 type?) and more CDM depth.
The 4-2-3-1 is my very favorite formation in football because I think it provides the perfect mix of offense and defense while allowing the team to increase and decrease width as much as they need. In addition, the three attacking 'midfielders' are often strikers as well which allows you to move up to a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 at any point that you need an extra offensive spark. This is also the formation that FC Dallas has run in recent years so Pareja is likely very knowledgeable on the subject.
The Rapids are actually quite well equipped for this particular formation with a strong defense and plenty of strikers who have played in the midfield before like Omar Cummings and Macoumba Kandji who could easily be a part of the three high attackers, along with several target forward possibilities. The spot right below the target forward would probably be the
Signings We'd Need To Make - A #10 for center midfield.
The 4-4-2 is the old standard of football for a reason, it almost always works. The Diamond version features two wingers and then a high attacking midfielder and a withdrawn defending midfielder. Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni are both fine cantidates for the withdrawn role, though the Rapids currently don't have anyone that can really play the #10 role. (Tony Cascio?) Past that, it wouldn't be an incredible stretch of resources and would probably require the fewest signings to change around - the Jamie Castrillón signing would pretty much nip this one in the bud, actually - if we're going to change from our current straight 4-4-2.
Signings We'd Need To Make - Just a bunch of various midfield depth.
OK, this one's kind of a joke but there might actually be a chance of it working here. The only reason that the Rapids could possibly pull off a 3-5-2 formation - a formation that I'm pretty sure nobody in MLS has ever had anything resembling success with - is because they have a guy who could actually play the Sweeper role in the center of defense. That guy is Marvell Wynne. If the Rapids could pick up enough midfield depth to keep the defending in the midfield as good as it is now, there's a good chance that a Drew Moor - Marvell Wynne - Anthony Wallace/Miguel Comminges three man back could be quite good.
Probably not, though. Nobody uses the 3-5-2 anymore, seriously.