What Formation Will Mike Petke Play In 2019?

Feb 28, 2019, 2:50 PM | Updated: 4:13 pm
Head coach Mike Petke directs players and staff during a Real Salt Lake practice at America First F...
Head coach Mike Petke directs players and staff during a Real Salt Lake practice at America First Field in Sandy on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake boasts a very impressive roster entering the 2019 season, will there be enough room in the formation for head coach Mike Petke to play all of his weapons?

Historically, Petke has used the 4-2-3-1 formation, which is four defenders, two defensive midfielders, one attacking midfielder, two players on the wing and one striker at the top. However we have seen changes in the past and we should not be surprised if something new comes our way in 2019.

The Battle At Center Back

The back line seems set in stone despite the debate on what center back partnership will get the first crack in 2019 with Nedum Onuoha, Marcelo Silva and Justen Glad all very capable to start at center back.

Welcome Everton Luiz

The center defensive midfield position has its own battle going on with Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland and now the addition of Everton Luiz causing headaches for Mike Petke.

MORE: Real Salt Lake Signs Midfielder Everton Luiz

Kreilach Or Rusnak At Center Attacking?

The biggest question mark going into the season is how do you best utilize Damir Kreilach and Albert Rusnak, who both prefer to play at the center attacking midfield position. Petke experimented last season with Kreilach, playing him at center defensive midfield and at striker. It was evident that Kreilach is more valuable playing his preferred position, which is center attacking midfield. Will Rusnak push out wide to make room for Kreilach to take over the CAM position? Rusnak plays on the wing with the Slovakian National Team.

The depth at both wing positions is a luxury for Petke, who has Joao Plata, Jefferson Savarino and Bofo Saucedo at his disposal. Throughout the course of the season we should see a variety of different starters on the wing.

Pressure On Corey Baird

The latest addition of striker Sam Johnson puts pressure on the 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Corey Baird. It is a fair assumption to think that Baird will get the first crack at putting goals in the back of the net for the Claret and Cobalt.

There are many questions that need to be answered in regards to the formation that Petke will play this season. How do you find room for three starting center backs? Who starts at center defensive midfield? How do you utilize both Kreilach and Rusnak at center attacking midfield? How much pressure is Corey Baird under with the roster addition of Sam Johnson?

Variety Is Key

Petke could change the formation on a game-by-game basis rather than stick to one. Playing on the road has been a struggle for Petke during his tenure at the helm which could force him to look at playing five across the back when the team plays on the road.

Tom’s Lineup

The team will continue to play it’s traditional 4-2-3-1 formation.

Below is how Tom sees the team looking for its first game against the Houston Dynamo this upcoming Saturday:

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Real Salt Lake go on the road this Saturday, March 2nd, to face the Houston Dynamo at 4 p.m. The match will be broadcast on the KSL TV app, which can be downloaded on any app store for free. The match will also be streamed on

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What Formation Will Mike Petke Play In 2019?