Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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How Uruguay pinned the USA back

Left-back Antonee Robinson pushed forward to the front line when the USA had the ball, but none of the midfielders covered for him. To negate that threat, Uruguay targeted the opposite side of the pitch, showcasing a way to control an advanced fullback.

Figure 1.1 - Antonee Robinson moves forward down the left-wing, Facundo Pellistri follows him, and Giovanni Reyna moves wide behind Robinson.

When Antonee Robinson pushed forward, Giovanni Reyna moved from the left half-space out to the left wing, timing the run to arrive wide when Robinson moved past by. This movement from Robinson dragged Uruguay right-winger Facundo Pellistri back.

Midfielders Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah focused all of their efforts on occupying central zones. If the ball was lost, Robinson was responsible for getting back to defend.

Figure 2.1 - Uruguay pass the ball vertically into the left-hand side behind the USA's right-back, forcing Antonee Robinson to stay back with the center-backs..

Uruguay’s way of countering this movement was to target the opposite side of the pitch, their left side, when they got the ball. When they targeted the left, Robinson was forced to move all the way back to defend with the two other center-backs. The fullback on the opposite side, Joseph Scally, would try to pressure Uruguay’s winger on the ball-side, leaving space behind him for a pass to be played into.

Uruguay pinning Robinson back was their way of maintaining their role as the protagonist in the match. Whenever the USA regained possession, Robinson would have to travel all the way up the wing, up and down, up and down.

The USA had the numerical advantage in the midfield, so if they had a versatile midfielder who could defend the wide areas on their left, they would have had the ability to use one of those midfielders as cover for Robinson when he got forward, but it seems none of their midfielders are capable of marking Nicolás de la Cruz or Darwin Nunez. Therefore, the USA was always at a disadvantage in possession because they could never get in a rhythm.

Match: USA 0-1 Uruguay, 2 July 2024

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