Perhaps no one is going to benefit more from Oscar Pareja's new 4-4-3 formation than Omar Cummings.
The Rapids striker enters 2012 on the heels of a largely disappointing season with the club last time out, when he battled a pesky ankle injury and finished with just three regular season goals, his lowest total since his rookie season in 2007.
But with a new head coach in town and a new formation in the works, Cummings could be ready to return to the high-flying ways that made him a terror for MLS defenses in 2009 and 2010.
“I think it makes us more offensive as a team,” he said about Pareja's preferred 4-3-3. “We focus on our going forward, more so than worrying about the other team. We’re concerned about us attacking teams, pushing them on the back foot.”
Cummings is no stranger to shifting around from one position to another up top. He routinely plays the flanks for the Jamaican national team when on international duty.
“I’m pretty comfortable just trying to get what the coach needs out of that position as a player,” Cummings said. “Maybe down the middle, on the right, on the left, I’ll be everywhere. It’s moving around.”
Pareja admits the first few weeks of preseason have been spent organizing the midfield, defining play out of the back and building an attack for his forwards. But that will change when the team competes in the upcoming Hawaiian Islands Invitational (Feb. 23-25) and in the weeks leading up to the regular season opener against Columbus on March 10.
“We have been spending a lot of time on our defensive shape and with the middle of the field, trying to get the ideas with them,” Pareja said. “Offensively, that’s going to be something we’ll be working on the next coming days.”
That offensive motion, covering space and looking at runs behind a defense, is something all Colorado attackers must be prepared to do, according to Cummings.
“That’s one of the things with this new formation – there’s no set position,” he said. “You can rotate, guys can move, you make a run and they can cover for you. It’s a rotation and guys are just moving. It’s just more emphasis on movement and getting the ball and keeping the ball.”
Following the Rapids’ training stint in Hawaii (Feb. 19-27), Cummings will continue his trip through the Pacific, joining the Jamaican national team for a game in New Zealand before returning home to Colorado. The Reggae Boyz will take on the Kiwis in Auckland on Feb. 29 in the ASB Summer International.