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Murrysville Area Soccer Association

Murrysville Area Soccer Association


The 2-3-1

Target Formation
The 11v11 formation that is mimicked by the 2-3-1 is the 3-5-2.

The 9v9 formation that is mimicked by the 2-3-1 is the 3-4-1.

The 2-3-1 features two center halves in defense, three midfielders (one central midfielder and outside midfielders to the right and left), and one forward in the most advanced position on the field.

Attacking Philosophy
The 2-3-1 is an aggressive formation that seeks to attack with four players (the three midfielders and the forward) pushed high up the field. The forward serves as the focal point of the attack, either making quick runs into space or checking to the ball to gain possession to become a distributor for the midfielders. The central midfielder is the primary ball possessor and distributor. The outside midfielders work to create passing and attacking options on the wings and often make runs along the wings to increase pressure on the opposing defense and to cross balls into the box. In many cases, the outside midfielders will make attacking runs into the center of the field as the forward moves out of those spaces and into other open areas. The center halves serve as the base and pivot for attacks on their respective sides of the field. Switching the direction of attack from one side of the field to the other occurs more frequently in the 2-3-1 because the center halves are only responsible for one side of the field and can pass the ball quickly and efficiently between one another.

When played well, the 2-3-1 is very difficult to defend because it creates open spaces and scoring chances all over the field. The two center halves and the three midfielders are able to make passes very quickly to alter the direction of the attack, often creating confusion among the opposing players. The positional fluidity of the outside midfielders and the forward creates marking challenges for the opponent. The presence of two center halves means that the opposing players must apply pressure away from the middle of the field, thus reducing the commitment to this pressure by increasing fatigue.

The 2-3-1 is a high-risk formation. The fluid movement among the midfielders and forward destabilizes the shape, making the 2-3-1 vulnerable to counterattacks when possession is lost. The 2-3-1 also places a great deal of pressure on the two center halves. Any mistakes in play or miscommunication between these players can lead to instant scoring chances for the opposition.

When to Employ the 2-3-1
The 2-3-1 is effective for teams with fast, fit players who can handle the frequent sprinting required of the outside midfielders and forward and with players who have the skill and athleticism to employ two center halves. Because it utilizes two center halves spread to the right and left, the 2-3-1 also is an effective response to opponents who like to apply pressure on the more traditional single center half in the middle of the field.


Murrysville Area Soccer Association
PO Box 494 
Murrysville, Pennsylvania 15668

Email: [email protected]

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