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The nerve shredding game against the Montreal impact not only moved the Whitecaps into the final of the Canadian Championship, it also gave us an extended look at Swiss playmaker Davide Chiumiento in two different roles.

He began the match playing as an orthodox right winger in a 4-4-2 formation with Hassli and Salgado playing up front and Russell Tiebert on the other wing, and it was striking how the two wide men had differing approaches to their roles.

For Tiebert (a natural winger) his first instinct was to hug the touchline, beat his defender and look to cross the ball, whereas Chiumiento was much more inclined to drift infield and look to thread a ball between defenders for the forwards to run onto.

This tendency to drift toward the middle of the park also manifested itself when he didn’t have the ball and it seemed at times that coach Teitur Thordason had to remind the player  to stay wide to prevent the whole shape of the team becoming too narrow.

Chiumiento’s role changed in the 68th minute when Shea Salinas came on to play wide right and he was moved to a central attacking role behind the forward Camilo in a 4-4-1-1 formation. It immediately became clear that this role is a much better fit to his style of play

He was no longer unsure about his positioning, and his tendency to wander around the field became an asset to the team rather than a burden. It’s no coincidence that this switch resulted in the Whitecaps best spell of pressure, but perhaps somewhat ironic that it was during this time that they conceded the penalty that forced he game into extra time.

Vancouver fans probably haven’t seen the best of Chiumiento yet, but he still has the most assists in Major League Soccer so Thordason knows that he needs to find a place for him in a side that has started to struggle for goals, and the gradual return to fitness of both Tiebert and Salinas make that job a little bit easier.

Using Hassli as a target man with Chiumiento just behind him makes the team so much less predictable and much harder to defend against, with the additional bonus that Salgado and Camilo provide perfect stand-ins for each role.

The Montreal Impact certainly tested the Whitecaps nerves on Wednesday but they may also have helped to unveil a blueprint for the future of the team.

 

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