The FM18 Strikerless Tactic with San Jose Earthquakes

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With a lot of tactics created, I have never created a strikerless tactic before. But as a kind of person I am, I love to experiment on tactics of any kind. In my opinion, based on my experiences, I think FM18 is a lot better than FM17. The tactical dynamics of FM18 is really impressive. And this got me to create this FM18 strikerless tactic using the 4-1-4-1-0 DM formation, which I’m going to share in this write-up.

Well, if you have been reading my articles here on FMtrendGames, you’ll notice that I have only been with a lot European clubs. And I feature things about them mostly. Which seems bias. Don’t you think? Maybe not. But, I decided to try something else. I moved to America to try out the Major League Soccer. Trust me, the MLS is really challenging. All teams seem equal and all have the ability to win the league, unlike what happens in European leagues.

But, however, I’m not going to discuss further about the MLS here. Let me point to the tactic I used with San Jose Earthquakes.

Tactic: The 4-1-4-1-0 DM Formation

Standard and counter are the best mentalities to use. You can use any of the two, depending on the opposition.

This tactic features a high possession style of play. From the player instructions screenshot above, the team shape is very fluid, the tempo is much lower, and the team adopts a balanced approach to wide play.

The defensive line is normal. But sometimes, I move it to ‘Slightly Deeper’ when much defending is needed, especially when the team is playing Away games. Personally, I like closing down the opponent as much as possible. The team also stays on feet while tackling (just to avoid a lot of bookings).

In the build-up section, the team will play from the back before advancing (i.e. play out of defence). I chose not to highlight a particular area to be the team’s focus attacking mentality. The passing directness is short passing, and the team will aim to pass into open spaces. One of the main purposes of this tactic is to keep hold of the ball.

In the final third, the team looks for underlap because this tactic isn’t equipped with attacking fullbacks. Look-for-underlap works best with such situation. However, for crossing, whipped crosses or low crosses are preferable. The team will move freely by roaming from positions.

Roles and Duties

For roles in this tactic, I took some qualities from my version of the tiki-taka tactic and installed in this tactic.

Keeper: Goalkeeper (Defend)

The thing needed in this role is a keeper with a reasonable passing attribute. Sweeper keeper will also work in this tactic, but I prefer the goalkeeper role.

Centre Backs: Two Central Defenders (both on Defend)

It’s really hard to acquire an intelligent ball playing defender in MLS. Since this is a possession tactic, a BPD is important. But, in order to make things work for San Jose Earthquakes, I used the central defender role. However, for all defensive roles, the most important thing is to have a defender with good height, heading, marking, positioning, tackling, anticipation, composure, and jumping reach.

Left CD instructions

Both Francois Affolter and Gonzalo Montiel (on loan from River Plate) suited well with the CD role.

Side Backs: Two Fullbacks (both on Support)

In this tactic, both fullbacks have the support duty. Their main aims here are to defend more and be able to recycle possession when the team’s attack fails. The fullback will only approach the by-lines when it’s really necessary.

Left fullback Instructions

Right fullback Instructions

I brought in Eric Miller (on loan) to carry out the right-back position, while Chris Klute (on free transfer) takes the left-back position.

Defensive Midfield: Half-Back (Defend)

After some testing, I found the HB role to be the most suitable role in this tactic. The defensive nature and technical abilities of this role are quite valuable here. The Deep Lying Playmaker role can also work but the HB role is preferable. Nevertheless, the HB role stays a bit deeper. The assigned player is more of an aggressive sweeper. The HB role defends better, and that’s needed most in this tactic.

Half Back Instructions

Aníbal Godoy did well in this role, even though he’s a ball winning midfielder. But I got Cristian Higuita (a sound technical player), on loan from Orlando City, for this role.

Central Midfield: Mezzala (Support) and Box-To-Box Midfielder (Support)

Although this is a possession tactic, I still needed a role that can bring more energy in the midfield. A role that can influence the assigned player to attack, penetrate the opposition box from the midfield, and score. The Mezzala role with the attack duty became the best choice. Simon Dawkins performed excellently in this role.

Mezzala Instructions

Beside the Mezzala is a Box-To-Box Midfielder. The BBM serves as a pivot to both attacking and defence phases. The assign player can mark, tackle, challenge the opponent, and make urgent attacking transition with decisive passes. This is where an experienced and versatile player called Florian Jungwirth came in.

Box-To-Box Midfielder Instructions

Side Midfield: Winger (Support) and Inverted Winger (Attack)

The winger’s priority, with the support duty, is to beat his marker quickly and aim a cross to attacking teammates. He does also help defensively, especially when you assign him to mark a specific player. The marking aspect will be discussed later. By the way, it’s best to put a player whose preferred foot is the same with his playing position. He must have a very good dribbling skill. Jahmir Hyka became a key player in this role.

Winger Instructions

The inverted winger acts like an inside forward. The player operates in the half space of the pitch. He can drift inside to open up space for an overlapping fullback when necessary. Or, he can act as a very dangerous winger who operates in the half space. But this will work only if you put a player whose preferred foot is the same to his position.

In this sense, if I need someone to act as an inside forward, I select Magnus Eriksson. Otherwise, I go for Shea Salinas if a dangerous half space winger is needed. Instead of drifting inside and trying to score, Shea will provide dangerous low crosses with his right foot.

Inverted Winger Instructions

Central Attacking Midfield: Attacking Midfielder (Attack)

For this tactic, this role is the most important role. Since there’s no striker, the player who gets this AM role should have a great technique. His dribbling attribute needs to be excellent but he can have fair acceleration and pace attributes.

The AM in this tactic acts like an advanced midfielder, a false nine, and a deep lying forward. That’s why he needs to be technically sound. Valeri Qazaishvili is the only player who suited perfectly here. His dribbling attribute is 18; a huge advantage.

Attacking Midfielder Instructions

Please Note: This tactic might not work well with your team, except if your team is San Jose Earthquakes. I found this tactic problematic with a team that doesn’t have the right players to play in the winger, inverted winger, and attacking midfielder roles. Such team can gain high possession of the ball but find it difficult to score.

Moreover, one of the reasons I created this tactic at San Jose Earthquakes is because the team’s strikers really underperformed during pre-season and at the early part of the MLS season. Wondolowaki is old and was very sluggish while Amarikwa mostly found it difficult to score. So I had to change things.

If you have weak strikers on your team, but you have vibrant attacking midfielders, you can try out this tactic and see how it will go. Perhaps, you can also find a way to adjust it in order to suit your team. 


You can use zonal marking while using this tactic. But mixed marking is better. Below screenshot shows an example on how to mark specifically in other to achieve mixed marking.

Use your MR, ML, and DM to mark. Under each circled position, the position you should use to mark is displayed in the screenshot.


For general training, get your team to train more on “fitness” and “tactical, ” at an average or low intensity level. For match preparation, start with match tactics for some time, then teamwork, before switching to any other focus. Schedule them properly.

Opposition Instructions

Setting opposition instructions depend on the team you’re going up against. You can set according to the advice of your tactical assistant coach.

Stats and Results

If you’re wondering if a tactic without a striker can really work, these stats below will shock you. I had a huge success with the Goonies.

The full match schedule is on our Facebook post. Go ahead and LIKE our page. Thanks.


Download Tactic

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