When evaluating a team’s attacking style there’s a few different questions we’re trying to answer. First and foremost, we want to know how the opposition is likely to cause us problems. To do this we need to assess their strengths going forward, and how to best explain them in our report.

Most Coaches find it useful to see diagrams of the tactical concepts we’re trying to describe. This helps to identify individual player positions in certain phases of the game, team shape, team depth (how high or low up the pitch they were) and generally avoid confusion.


Please read the following paragraph. Can you foresee any issues that may arise for a Coach reading this?

“When they have the ball the wingers like to tuck inside. The #7 right winger is left footed and looks to slip through balls for the forward as he receives it on his stronger foot. The #11 is less comfortable with the ball and tends to play short simple passes, usually with his back to goal.”


You may notice there’s no reference to how high or low the movement from the wingers is occurring. If a Head Coach is preparing a session based on the report, will they be preparing the team for this movement in the final third as they look to play in tight spaces around the edge of the box? Or should they be looking to combat these movements in the build up phase in the middle third?

This is why context behind our descriptions is crucial.

In these two scenarios, a diagram would quickly and clearly illustrate this for a Coach reading the report.

For the first task in this module we’re going to look at the New York Red Bulls in possession of the ball. Just like the example mentioned above, New York’s wingers are both tucking inside off the wing.

The task is to create two tactical diagrams to show these movements and where they occur on the field. Please view the videos below and create a tactical diagram for each.

Here’s our example.

When it comes to what specific tactical moments to include in a report, this is where we need to make some crucial decisions. Should we include a pattern of play if it only happens once in a game or the selection of games we’ve watched?

Remember, the opposition report is meant to offer the reader an insight into what’s likely to happen when their team faces the opponent.

We’re looking for repeatable patterns and tendencies.

Here’s what Oliver Gage, Sam Lawson and Mark Krikorian explained to us about the opposition’s attack:

As a good general rule, if something rare is so dangerous it would cause a major problem, it might be included. Otherwise it can be left out or added to a general comments section if for some reason we feel it must be mentioned.

Now we’ve considered and practiced drawing a basic tactical diagram, it’s time to look at how to demonstrate ball movement.

In the previous scenario, one simple diagram was enough to accurately show the situation. However, there may be times when we want to show a few different phases of play. For this we’ll need to use progression diagrams. Take a look at this clip.

For this module’s second task, we’re going to draw some ball movements. These can be used in a report alongside some writing that describes the situation to help the reader better understand.

Some people prefer not to draw the opposition players on such diagrams to avoid clutter and help the reader focus on the team being scouted.

Here’s our example.

If we feel the opposition players are needed, that’s understandable. It comes down to personal preference, or who the report is being prepared for and what they prefer.

Here’s how it might look if we wanted to add opposition players. Feel free to practice this and add them if needed.

To go one step further, we can add ‘vision lines’ to show which way players are facing. In this example, the lines show how the defensive players are focused on the ball, allowing the yellow attacker to drift inside into a dangerous area.

For the final task in the attacking module we’re going to analyze some attacking patterns in 3 MLS teams. The videos below contain clips of attacking play by the Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew and Vancouver Whitecaps.

Alongside the diagrams in a scouting report, we’ll probably want to include some text to describe it. Watch the videos on each team and write a description of the attacking tendency they’re displaying in as much detail you feel is necessary for your report.

Once you’ve written these descriptions please add them to the comments section below, before moving move on to the next module.

Responses

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  1. Columbus Crew
    – In the attacking third, Columbus looks to connect. a pass to a free player facing forward in the half spaces to cross early or play a pass to the endline for a cutback cross.
    -Create an overload with the 2, 7, and 10 on the ride side of the field. These players interchange with one another and use this overload with the intention of crossing early into the 9 or to get the ball to the enplane for a cutback cross to the 9 and central midfielders at the top of the box.

    Vancouver Whitecaps
    – While attacking in their defensive and middle thirds of the field the Whitecaps LB and LCB tend to play direct passes over the top/on the ground in behind the opposition’s backline to the striker.
    -9 makes direct runs in behind when the 3 and 5 have the ball facing forward with no pressure on them looking to receive the ball in between and behind the opposition 2 and 4. If direct pass is completed Vancouver’s 9 will attempt to create a chance as quickly as possible with a cross or by shooting himself.

    Seattle Sounders
    -In the middle third of the field Seattle tends to switch the point of the attack using their 6. Once they switch the field they attack quickly down the flanks with their wingers and fullbacks to create chances off of a variety of crosses.
    -When attacking in the final third in the wide channels the fullbacks will make aggressive overlapping runs to create a 2v1 situation against the opposing fullback. Will look to get to the endline cross the ball hard and low to the near post or cut it back to midfielders arriving late into the box.

  2. Columbus Crew
    Location: Final third off the right central to right flank side.
    Team shape: good width across the forward attacking players to force opponents defending group to not be as compact as they maybe would like to be that deep. Rest of team is in good supporting positions to provide balance in maintaining possession.
    Player movement: runs from various players (midfielders, wingers, outside backs) that run into the half spaces between the opponents LB and LCB. When the space is recognized.
    Ball movement: circulated or moved to the right central part of the pitch until the space is opened and an attacking players movement is in between those spaces or a runner is timed into those spaces.
    Change in rhythm and tempo: play quickens with either a one time ball or a disguised pass into the players feet or space within the identified location.
    Tactical Objective: break the final defensive groups line with a penetrating pass that allows the player to either run onto the ball, receive and turn. That player then has the freedom to either deliver an early cross, dribble to the end line and cut back or cut inside and shoot for themselves. All other players upon the entry pass, attack the penalty area with a variation of near and far post runs to allow for other options, (early cross, cut back passes)

    Vancouver Whitecaps
    Location: Generally from own half off the left flank sometimes through the left central side.
    Team shape: Wingers and striker position themselves mostly central to leave space into left flank channel, everyone else is either in balanced positions or compact positions to quickly transition if possession is lost
    Player movement: From the winger and striker players, there may be a run to show and curl to into the spaces behind.
    Ball movement: Ball is played from own half or at the midway line into the space behind for the forward to run on to the ball. Sometimes this play starts deeper with a few passes out to start a counter attack, never really more than 2 build up passes before the ball is played in behind the back four
    Change in rhythm and tempo: Not a lot of rhythm is developed, tempo is quick as it is coming in quick transitions.
    Tactical Objective: Play direct long balls targeted to the left side.

    Seattle Sounders
    Location: Generally in the middle third entering the attacking third.
    Team shape: Good width from wingers, strikers stay central. Central midfielders and outside backs provide good supporting positions.
    Player movement: forward runs from the wide players. This includes outside backs into the flank areas of the field. Central strikers look to hold their runs and time them when crosses are delivered.
    Ball movement: Ball possession is gained and there is typically 2-3 short passes before longer switching point of attack passes are played. Crosses into the box vary and are played when runs are made
    Change in rhythm and tempo: the change comes after the 2nd or 3rd short pass. Long pass switching pass is where the rhythm and tempo change.
    Tactical Objective: Switch the point of attack quickly and attack the flank areas.

  3. Columbus Crew:
    – Build up and create in the half spaces and look to expose space in the pockets.
    – Short passes with combination of runs and rotations from the central midfielder, wingers and full backs
    – Expose space behind opposing full back
    – Cut back crosses or short passes into the box with various runners coming from the midfield and front line.
    – Favor the right side in their attack.

    Vancouver Whitecaps:
    – Quick direct attacks from the full back or center back
    – Looking to exploit the central channel space behind the opposing backline.
    – Direct movement from the forwards to split the back line and receive passes in behind.
    – Winger like to play touchline wide when on the strong side.
    – Favor their left side to start and finish the attack.

    Seattle Sounders:
    – Deep switches of play to get the opposite side
    – Full backs join in and create overloads on weakside
    – Consistent with front 2 attacking the box, plus 1 to 2 midfielders.
    – Slightly varied delivery – early whipped cross, cut back, deep back post
    – Will attack down both left and right side

  4. Columbus Crew: They are focusing on finding a free man behind the right of attack to cut back into the penalty box. A good number of players arrive late in the box, but we could possibly do with some additional variation there.
    Sometimes wider players are passing infield for centre mids to then pass vertically first time or utiliise full backs and wingers passing in behind to catch opposition off guard.

    Vancouver Whitecaps – Quick and direct. Use of long balls mostly on the left and in behind full backs into wide areas for forwards to run onto. Primarily down the left. Depending on when and where the ball is won back this tactic also used centrally over the top of central defenders to isolate.

    Seattle Sounders – Quick switch of play usually from centre mid. Play starts on opposite side and moves into him quickly – he will always look to clip ball over to opposite side to stretch defence and create overload on opposite flank. Trying to get full back in on overlap to create cutback opportunities.

    Not afraid of switching play again if unsuccessful at creating overload.

  5. Columbus Crew
    -they utilize half spaces on the wings to try and get balls in between the fullback and the center back.
    -when they get these balls they look to cross on the ground across the box
    -Columbus is good at getting people into the box but also will take shots from the through balls

    Vancouver Whitecaps
    – Vancouver likes to play big balls over the top to there wingers or striker.
    – most of these balls come from the middle third
    -if the winger gets the ball he will most of the time look to cross the ball back in but does have the quality to cut in and shoot if not careful.

    Seattle Sounders
    -they look to switch the ball big by using cm #6 high level of passing accuracy to spread the ball
    – they like to use the width of the field to attack and get balls into the box in the attacking third.
    -full backs will over lap to help wingers out.

  6. Columbus Crew:
    -Utilise the half-space by keeping width on both sides of the pitch, opening up a gap between the full back and centre back as he is caught in 2 minds about his positioning, this predominantly happens on the right hand side.
    -Once the ball is played into the half space, the player often advances to the by-line and looks for a cut back into the gold zone.
    -They do well to get numbers into the box ready for this cut back and are positioned well for any potential rebounds.
    -Players drop off from the centre backs in order to receive passes between the lines, which draws out opposition defenders opening up space for other players to make runs into.

    Vancouver Whitecaps:
    -Skip playing through the middle 3rd, looking to get the ball forward as quickly as possible. They often use long balls into the channel (followed by an early cross) or a ball over the top for the striker to run onto.
    -Wingers position themselves narrow so they can run onto the long balls.
    -They don’t commit too many players forward early on, presumably due to the risk of losing possession with more direct passing.

    Seattle Sounders:
    -Wingers move very narrow, with both full backs looking to overlap and hold width.
    -Look to stretch opposition with frequent switches to either full back who are very high and wide.
    -#6 often dictates play from deep in midfield, very capable of accurate switches and long passes.
    -The 2 strikers pin the opposition centre-backs meaning the opposition full backs have to deal with both winger and full back at times.

  7. 2. They skip the middle third, often going long behind the full backs into the channels and relying on the pace of the forward line.

    3. The full backs push high and wide, whilst the ball is passed short/medium length, drawing the opposition out and waiting for gaps to appear, when gaps appear on the opposite side of the pitch they switch play to the full back

  8. 1. They often try to play into the RCM who will play incisive passes between the lines, on the outside of the LCB/inside of the LB. The RW then drives towards the byline to cut back

  9. First Columbus Crew:
    Attacking tendencies: – Middle third to attacking third, overload wide areas (right-side dominant) with good supporting shape (diamonds/triangles)
    – Look to quickly penetrate the half space with a variety of in to out and out to in runs
    – Final ball is a cutback or whipped ball often 1-2 touch to dangerous areas for a 1-2 touch finish
    – Good layering in the box for secondary chances

    Vancouver Whitecaps FC:
    Attacking tendencies: – Extremely direct from the defensive third often skipping the middle third to find runners in behind in attacking third.
    – Their ideal style of play is to find their left-back or left-center back who can play a variety of driven of clipped balls over the top into the striker
    – When building up in their midfield third where the play is squeezed, they will often look for a short bump pass into the center-midfielder to set the trigger for the forward to begin their run. The center-midfielder will often play back to the left-back / left-center back for a 1-2 touch driven ball into the forward
    – Ideally, they are looking to find their forward in behind the opposition back line as the forward is fast and will finish quickly

    Seattle Sounders FC
    Attacking tendencies: – Look to switch the ball from one side to the other via their #6 predominantly to their full-backs who play very wide and often overlap to get on the ball
    – Traditional wingers occupy the half-space often inverting on the move to open up spaces for overlapping full-backs from the defensive third to the attacking third. They can cover a lot of ground.

  10. 1.Columbus Crew SC
    The Columbus Crew’s key area during the attack is the right outer corridor, where the full back usually joins, in a way that he creates a triangle with the winger and the midfielder, trying to break through the defensive line by overlapping, give and go, or 3rd man play. By having smooth control of the ball, getting it out of their feet with efficiency (fast passes and few touches), the players that make up the triangle, try to pull on the defensive players, and then with a change of the rhythm of the play, they make runs behind the opposition team’s defensive line with the intention to get into the box for crosses, or if possible, to shoot from the shooting zone.
    The main creative player in these situations is #10, who sneaks deeper to the opponent’s third of the field and strives to make a sudden vertical ground pass through the outer/inside right corridor, towards the teammates in the finishing zones, where the most dangerous players are #9, #23 and #13.
    When the ball is out of the key area, the midfielders switch the focus of the attack with long diagonal passes to the right side of the field.

    2.Vancouver Whitecaps FC
    The automation that Vancouver Whitecaps use is that during the built-up phase or quickly after regaining the possession of the loss ball, in their half of the field, Vancouver’s players try to surprise the opponent with direct long balls to the forward player through the left side of the field (left outer/inside corridor). This active long-distanced ball is played behind the opponent’s last defensive line, and it is deep enough to fly over the defensive line, and short enough so as not to be caught by the goalkeeper. The receiver of the ball is accelerating quickly and maintains a high speed during the receiving, living the defenders stranded in uncomfortable situation. With his proper body orientation, the receiver is always ready to continue the automated play, since he has good aerial play and good control of the ball. When he receives the ball successfully, he either shots from the box or crosses the ball to the finishing zones in the penalty area.
    In case the long pass is received by one of the midfielders, an instant overlap pass is made to the forward player, who quickly penetrates in the finishing zones, where he can endanger the opposite goal.

    3.Seattle Sounders FC
    The usual behaviour of Seattle Sounders FC when they have the possession of the ball, is to attract opposite players in the 2nd zone of the field, with few short passes between the midfielders and short dribbles, which generates free spaces in the far away areas, towards the opposite goal. In case when the opponent’s last defensive line is set deeper, and the active zone is saturated with opponents and there are no free pass lines to the nearest teammates, the possessor breaks through the defensive line with vertical pass in depth, behind the opponent players, so the receiver quickly gets the ball to the shooting zone. If the opponent’s players are attracted near the side lines, in the outer corridors of the 2nd zone, a sudden diagonal (aerial or ground) pass is made to the teammates – midfielders in the opposite flanks, switching the focus of the game from the strong side to the weak side, so the receiver can progress through the gaps on the side of the defensive lines. Player #4 is the usual receiver of the ball near the right sideline and players #33 and #15 are the usual receivers the left sideline. When they receive the ball in the flank, they engage in 1v1 isolation with the defensive player, in very intentional manner, in order to give their teammates time to penetrate in the finishing zones, e.g., to prepare for cross. Also, if the switch is not so sudden, and the defensive line is already set on its height, collaboration is made between the midfield and fullback, using the “give and go”, with mutual openings to move forward.

  11. Columbus Crew:
    Attacking tendencies: – Middle third to attacking third, overload wide areas (right-side dominant) with good supporting shape (diamonds/triangles)
    – Look to quickly penetrate the half space with a variety of in to out and out to in runs
    – Final ball is a cutback or whipped ball often 1-2 touch to dangerous areas for a 1-2 touch finish
    – Good layering in the box for secondary chances

    Vancouver Whitecaps FC:
    Attacking tendencies: – Extremely direct from the defensive third often skipping the middle third to find runners in behind in attacking third.
    – Their ideal style of play is to find their left-back or left-center back who can play a variety of driven of clipped balls over the top into the striker
    – When building up in their midfield third where the play is squeezed, they will often look for a short bump pass into the center-midfielder to set the trigger for the forward to begin their run. The center-midfielder will often play back to the left-back / left-center back for a 1-2 touch driven ball into the forward
    – Ideally, they are looking to find their forward in behind the opposition back line as the forward is fast and will finish quickly

    Seattle Sounders FC
    Attacking tendencies: – Look to switch the ball from one side to the other via their #6 predominantly to their full-backs who play very wide and often overlap to get on the ball
    – Traditional wingers occupy the half-space often inverting on the move to open up spaces for overlapping full-backs from the defensive third to the attacking third. They can cover a lot of ground.
    – Due to the wide variety of long and short crosses from these full-backs, the central players and forward players (often at least 3 sitting on the opposition back line) will wait patiently at the top of the 18 yard box occupying the opposition center-backs until the cross is initiated. At this point, they make explosive, dynamic runs and layer well to the front, middle and back post.
    – Seattle will default to being direct at times when the build up /switch to the full-back is not on
    – A secondary line of players will continue their runs from deep midfield positions to deal with any crosses that don’t find their forward players

  12. Columbus Crew
    In the attacking third Columbus are trying to create scoring chances on the right side of the field via the half space and cutbacks in the box. One of the most common ways they achieve this is by using #10 to receive in central areas to attract the defensive line forward, to which he then plays a through ball in the right half space between the opposition left back and left center back. A crucial part of this is that there is always a player on the touchline forcing the left back out wider to mark, hence the space opening up in the half space. The player receiving in this space often looks to find a cutback to one of the strikers in the penalty area. Although that is the most common scenario, the players involved can vary. They also have passed out wide to the right winger who then plays a pass to an under lapping attacker in the half space. Additionally sometimes their striker is the one to receive in central areas and play the through ball into the right half space.

    Vancouver Whitecaps FC
    The Whitecaps are very direct when attacking. Their left winger starts narrow and likes to make runs in behind in the left half space between the right back and right center back. He’s also usually the furthest forward player on the team. The balls played into this player usually come from the left back, and sometimes the left sided midfielder from deeper areas. They don’t particularly commit many players forward, however these plays often do result in a shot on goal.

    Seattle Sounders
    The Sounders look to create scoring chances via crosses from the wide areas. Often the players delivering the crosses are the fullbacks who usually provide the width via being on the touchline or overlapping. The ball is progressed to the fullbacks in two ways. The main way is through the two central midfielders. They often attempt long switches to the opposite fullback from deep to where play is under loaded. Alternatively the fullbacks often overlap and receive passes from narrow wingers in the attacking third. The types of crosses the fullbacks deliver depend on the scenario.

  13. Columbus Crew
    What they are doing is Exploiting Space Behind Middle Line as a one step before they Exploit Space Behind Back Line of the oppositions.
    How they are doing? By using formation 1-4-2-3-1 in which wide players are going inside in order to create numerical superiority in the middle and to be a pass option behind middle line. In one situation we have winger keeping width but fullback then is making underlap. But final pass behind back line is made once they exploit space behind middle line by using numerical superiority. They are playing through passes and a lot of short passing combinations.

    Vancouver Whitecaps FC
    The What of this team or main intention is to Exploit Space Behind Back Line of the opponents. This is happening more direct when already fullback is in possession (in this clips left side).
    How they are doing? In formation 1-4-4-2 when fullback is in possession the winger from that side is going inside to take away opponents fullback from his position in order to create space for striker to ask for the ball in that created space. They are repeating this pattern through the clips. They are more playing over and direct.

    Seattle Sounders FC
    What they are doing is Exploiting Space Behind Middle Line on the flanks. After they accomplish this the next step is crossing.
    How they are doing? Their formation look like 1-4-4-2 and in order to attack on the flanks their wingers go more inside to keep opponents defending line narrow and to create space for fullbacks.. Also they are switching sides when attack is on one side they quick switch to another side through the DM player. Start attack on one side to attack on another. They are playing around more diagonal, to come in the situation for crossing.

    Conclusion
    We have 3 teams with same goal but different ways to accomplish this goal.
    First team is playing “Through”
    Second “Over”
    Third “Around”
    In some situations the position of the defending team is crucial wether they are in a low block or medium or they are high.

  14. Columbus Crew

    The team operates in a 4-2-3-1 setup, orchestrating their attacks narrowly while the fullbacks advance to add width during the attacking phase in the final third. The right winger consistently stays wide, contrasting with the left winger, who positions more centrally, akin to a second striker. Video analysis indicates a tactical inclination to attack down the right, exploiting the gap between the opposing left center-back and fullback when the opposition’s fullback confronts our width-providing player and their center-back does not shift over to cover.
    The team adeptly takes advantage of this vulnerability using a variety of tactics: the winger makes a diagonal run inward, the fullback moves up into the half-space to drive forward, the central attacking midfielder (#10) either surges into this space or occupies it to disrupt the defensive line, and the winger executes runs behind the opposition fullback or overlaps behind when the fullback is otherwise occupied.
    Additionally, players demonstrate fluidity through interchanging positions. Still, they maintain their tactical discipline by occupying the critical spaces—half-space, wide areas, and exploiting the channels created by the fullback’s movements. This strategic positioning and movement create dynamic attacking options and stretch the opposition’s defense.

    Once a player gets down the line, the strategy is to deliver crosses, favoring cutbacks or low, driven balls. These are timed with the runs from the opposite winger, the attacking midfielder, and the striker (#9), who synchronize their movements to meet these deliveries, heightening the threat on goal with various options in the box.

    Exploited that space and got down the line 5 times, culminating in 4 dangerous crosses and 1 shot In 2 games.

    VANCOUVER

    In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Vancouver employs narrow wingers to manipulate the play. Video clips reveal that during settled play within the middle third and attacking transitions, the team seeks to exploit the space behind the defensive line, particularly targeting the area left exposed by the opposition’s right fullback when they advance. A narrow winger makes incisive runs into these spaces, capitalizing on the moments when the fullback is out of position. Additionally, when a fullback or central midfielder receives the ball in wide areas or central areas, their primary option is to look for a pass behind the defensive line, indicating a well-rehearsed strategy to stretch the opposition’s defense vertically. On the left flank, the winger plays an inverted role, often cutting inside onto their stronger foot, which opens channels for through balls and creates opportunities for shots on goal or intricate plays with the central attackers.

    Culminated three shots and 1 PK. Beat the defensive line with that ball four times in 2 games.

    Seattle

    Seattle’s tactical framework features a narrow 4-2-4 formation that emphasizes using fullbacks to provide width both in settled play and during transitions. In building their attacks, they frequently switch the ball to open spaces or dispatch it behind the defense for the fullbacks, who are key in creating width and contributing to overlapping runs. This movement creates opportunities for early crosses, bypassing the need for 1v1 confrontations. Whether in controlled phases of possession or quick transitional moments, Seattle ensures that there are always three players ready to converge in the box — the twin center-forwards and the far-side narrow midfielder. This disciplined approach to positioning and movement allows for a high presence in the box during crossing situations, offering a consistent threat from wide areas and maintaining strategic balance to adapt quickly from possession to pressing.

  15. Columbus Crew
    – Team that looks to play into the space behind in the half spaces (right side in these clips) in the final 3rd
    – Accomplished thru Interchanging/Rotations from winger, fullback and a mid where one will usually look to be touchline wide, while another may look to drag a cb out of position wide with runs into channel
    – Upon getting into these positions they will look for cut backs or early balls across goal for 2-3 players in the box (midfielder will look to make runs beyond the striker or attack the post to leave the space for the striker for the cutback)
    – Forwards will look to play in deeper positions (unmarked) and look to create marking confusion
    – LB usually the sole provider of width on the far side with the LW tucking in
    – #10 is often the player to play the final ball (often disguised pass or reverse pass), has the most freedom to drift around the final 3rd often appearing in pockets of space near the box or wide to switch the play, right footed and tends to play/dribble

    Vancouver
    -Look to advance into the final 3rd via balls into the left channel (may come in the form of a floated ball or passes into the path from the touchline.) usually from the LB spot by the himself or a mid
    – These balls often result in a shot or played so that the keeper is forced to decided whether to come out or hold his line
    -Usually don’t commit many men forward aggressively or actively look for crosses
    -LW is usually the furthest forward in these scenarios
    – midfielders play much closer to the back four

    Sounders
    -Team that will actively look for crossing scenarios (whether through long diagonal switches or via link play from the striker
    – #6 very involved in starting these attacks as a deep play maker and looks to spray passes wide quarter back style
    -Full backs are touchline wide and available as an outlet for the switch or overlap (usually the ones playing the final ball)
    -Final ball may vary depending on the crossing position (may come in the form of deep cross, cutbacks, passes into feet)
    -Forward players look to occupy both CB while a winger or mid will look to come in and drag a full back inward for the full back to advance
    – upon winning possession, they will look to pass into on the mids (who is often unmarked) for them to start the attack and spread the play wide

  16. Columbus Crew

    In the final third, the team passes the ball around on the right side of the field. The #20 is the overlapping RB, often the one who starts the attack during build up. The winger #23 and the midfielders approach. The players try to find free spaces between the lines so that they can pass to a penetrating player behind the defensive line, often the winger or RB. This player is normally unmarked, so there is space to make a quick final cross or even a shot if there is angle to do so. If the team is outnumbered by the defending team. the #9 may also drop deep to receive the ball and make the pass behind the defense.

    Vancouver Whitecaps

    The team is focused on long balls and fast transitions. During build up, the goal is to move the ball around until there is an angle to make the long pass to the left winger, who will run behind the defense. In this phase of the game the midfielders apparently have more responsibilities off the ball, mostly dropping deep to draw markers and clear space for the long balls behind the defenders, while the long passes are most often given by the LB or the LCB.

    If possession is recovered in the right wing, the team quickly organizes to counter attack, also inverting for a free man isolated on the left wing. At this point, the midfielders are important for the effectiveness of the transitions.

    Seattle Sounders

    The team is constantly looking for runs behind the defense, many times taking advantage of the width using overlapping and unmarked full backs. That being said, however they do look for long balls, their passes are not as direct as Vancouver Whitecaps. The team is more patient and may invert more than once in the same play to find the right moment to find the overlapping player.

  17. The Columbus Crew clips show an attacking tendency down the right side that results most commonly in a cross, a cut back or a shot. The key players involved in these patterns are most commonly the #10, a CAM, and the right back in an advanced position. The attacking tendency involves attacking the space between the opponent left center back and left back with a split pass from the right half space, so that the Crew attacker is able to get behind the opponent back line to cross or cut back. In Clip #1, the #10 advances with the ball, then plays it back but runs into an advance position between the opponent left center back and left back. With the right back positioning on the sideline attracting the left back, the #10 is free and receives a split pass in behind for a cross. In Clip #2, the right winger stays high and wide, attracting the opponent left back, which allows the right back to run into the space between the left center back and left back after passing to #10. #10 finds the right back in behind for a cross. In Clip #3, the Crew CB dribbles forwards forcing the opponent wide midfielder to come inside, which then frees the right back in an advanced position wide. The opponent left back closes down the right back, which creates distance between the opponent left center back for the right back to find the Crew midfielder with a diagonal pass into this created space for a cross. In Clip #4, the Crew #9 Kamara drops deep to receive centrally; the Crew right winger makes a diagonal run across, which drags the opponent left back with them, creating space for Kamara to find the right back with a pass and a combination with the right winger which results in a goal opportunity. In Clip #5, the CDM is able to find the #10 between the lines centrally, who is then able to turn and play a through ball between the opponent left center back and left back for the right winger to run on to and cross. In Clip #6, the right back is again high and wide, creating space for the #10 to find a Crew midfielder in the space between the center back and left back. The midfielder cuts inside and shoots. In Clip #7. the #10 again receives in the right half space and finds the right midfielder/winger with a through ball between the center back and left back.
    The Vancouver clips show an attacking tendency involving direct play which finds the Vancouver forward in behind the opponent back line or specifically behind the opponent right back using lofted passes most commonly from the Vancouver left back or left center back. In these situations, Vancouver do not progress with short passes through the middle third of the field, but instead try to bypass this with a long, lofted pass typically down the left side. In Clip #1, the left back receives close to the sideline on the half way line and clips the ball over the opponent right back for the Vancouver forward to run on to. The forward cuts inside the opponent right center back, shoots and hits the bar. In Clip #2, the Vancouver left center back is in possession close to the half way line and clips the ball similarly over the opponent right back for the Vancouver forward to run on to, resulting in a cross from the left hand side. In Clip #3, the Vancouver left mid drops to receive and plays the left back, who then plays long over the opponent right back and right center back to the Vancouver forward. The goalkeeper saves in a 1v1 situation with the forward. In Clip #4, the Vancouver CDM is deep in their own half but plays a long diagonal ball to the Vancouver left back, who then plays the ball in behind the opponent right back and right center back to the forward. The forward wins a penalty kick with the goalkeeper tripping them.
    Seattle sounders show an attacking tendency where they are able to progress into the opponent final third using quick diagonal switches of play or diagonal passing sequences. The ball will start on their left, the ball is passed inside to a midfielder, who then plays the advancing right back or right midfielder. In this way they exploit the weak side of the opponent who has shifted over to the side where the ball was initially. The key players involved in the diagonal switches are the Seattle CDMs. In Clip #1, the Seattle left back is able to find a free midfielder diagonally inside. The midfielder receives on the half turn and plays the advancing Seattle right back (#4), who crosses. In Clip #2, the Seattle left back passes inside to the CDM, who then clips a long diagonal ball to the advancing Seattle right back#4. In Clip #3, the CDM has time and space on the left, and then plays a long diagonal ball to the Seattle right midfielder. The pattern then repeats but then in the other direction, with the right midfielder playing the right back, who finds the CDM inside, who then plays a long diagonal ball to the left midfielder in an advanced position to cross into the box. In Clip #4, the Seattle CB finds the CDM after winning the ball on the Seattle right, and passes diagonally to an advanced midfielder on the interior left side. This midfielder then turns inside and plays one of the forwards dropping deep, who then turns and plays the right midfielder. The right midfielder plays the overlapping right back for a cross. In Clip #5, the CDM wins the ball on the right, plays the other CDM inside, who dribbles forward and passes to an attacking midfielder to play the advancing left midfielder to cross. This play results in a goal.

  18. The Columbus Crew are dangerous when attacking the half-space in between the lines and behind the back line (especially the right half space). When they are able to penetrate behind the back line in the half-space they are able to create scoring chances through a) a cutback to the penalty spot area or b) an early ball along the ground behind the back line. Because of the fluid rotations between their central attacking player, #9, RW, and RB the player playing the ball, the player receiving the ball, and the type of ball played attacking the right-side half-space varies. Nonetheless, attacking the half-space is a clear pattern for the Crew and they successfully create goals and goalscoring chances through a similar pattern of play.

    The Vancouver Whitecaps showed a pattern of playing a ball into a channel for a forward running in behind in the space between the FB and CB. This pattern appeared most often on Vancouver’s left hand side. When able to get on the end of a ball into the channel, the forward (#29) looks to quickly create a goalscoring opportunity through either a) cutting in and taking a shot or b) serving an early ball in behind the recovering defensive line. The ball in behind into the channel is most often play by the LB or LCB as a ball driven in the air, but the Whitecaps will occasionally attack the same space in behind in the channel via a bending ball rolled on the ground wide of the opposing RB (expect to see this pattern most often when the Whitecaps successfully switch the point of attack from R to L.)

    The Seattle Sounders often use the pattern of play of inverting a wide midfielder in order to create space for an overlapping outside back. The wide midfielders may invert on the ball or off of the ball. When a wide midfielder inverts when he does not have the ball he will either a) seek to find a pocket between the lines or b) join the #9 as a second target in the box for a cross from a FB. The type of service from the FB varied (hard on the ground to the Near Post, Lofted to the far post, cutback to just above the penalty spot) as did the quality of the service. However, the clear intended pattern is to draw the opposition back 4 narrow through an inverting wide midfielder in order to create space in the wide channels for an overlapping FB who has the opportunity to serve with little to no pressure.

  19. Columbus Crew:
    – Columbus Crew’s attacking play revolves around the movement and positioning of their wingers (number 9 and number 13).
    – The number 9 (left winger) tends to come inside and play in the inner spaces between – the opponent’s defensive line and midfield line.
    – The number 13 (right winger) focuses on attacking the space behind the fullbacks or between the fullbacks and center-backs.
    – The wingers aim to create space on the flanks for the aggressive and dangerous fullbacks who join the attack and provide crosses.
    – The number 23 (center forward) makes aggressive movements in the blind side of the center-backs and attacks the box.
    – The number 10 alternates between lower and higher positions in the middle, possessing excellent playmaking abilities and the ability to deceive opponents with body feints.
    Columbus often utilizes a pattern of one player attacking depth to make the defensive line drop, while another player waits for a cut back inside the box.
    They prioritize attacking from the same side they enter the final third, with fluid movement and combinations between the winger, midfielder, and fullback. Most of their final 3rd penetration is via the right flanks.
    Overall, Columbus Crew focuses on intricate combinations, exploiting spaces, and creating crossing opportunities

    Vancouver Whitecaps:
    – Vancouver Whitecaps employ a direct and vertical attacking approach, often looking for balls played down the line and behind the opponent’s backline.
    – The left winger plays a key role in their attacking strategy, making runs into the space between the center-back and full-back to receive direct balls. This pattern is frequently used to exploit the opponent’s right-back and pin them back, allowing the left full-back to push forward and join the attack.
    – Their left center-back is involved in initiating attacks by sending long balls for the left winger to chase and attack space behind the defense.
    – Vancouver aims to enter the final third in a direct manner, utilizing long balls from the left back to the center forward. The left midfielder drops deep to attract the opposition right-back, while the center forward makes runs in behind to create 1v1 situations and pull the opposition right center-back into wide areas.
    – The Whitecaps heavily rely on quick transitions and playing in behind the opponent’s defense, favoring passes that bypass the midfield and create opportunities for their fast-paced attackers.
    – There is a preference for developing play forward immediately, with long passes and attacking spaces with fast-paced runs being prominent features of their attacking style.
    In summary, Vancouver Whitecaps prioritize direct play, vertical runs, and long balls to exploit space behind the opponent’s defense, with a specific emphasis on the left side of the field.

    Seattle Sounders:
    – Seattle Sounders’ attacks often revolve around their number 6 (defensive midfielder) who initiates play with forward passes into pockets of space or into wide areas.
    – The wingers frequently position themselves in inner spaces, playing between the lines or covering offensive depth, which draws the opponent’s fullbacks inside and creates space for the overlapping fullbacks to join the attack.
    – Crossing situations are a key aspect of Seattle’s attacking strategy, with a minimum of three players (center-forward and both wingers) occupying the box, and sometimes even four players.
    – They employ these patterns in established attacks as well as offensive transitions.
    – Seattle looks to enter the final third with established possession, often involving the number 6 distributing the ball to either the tucking-in winger or the advancing fullback.
    – Switching the point of attack is a common theme, with the holding midfielder playing a crucial role in this progression.
    – Once in the final third, Seattle aims to create chances through direct service from the fullbacks, who get into deep positions and provide aerial crosses.
    – Both fullbacks are actively involved in the attacking play, making overlapping and underlapping runs depending on the movement of the winger.
    – Seattle Sounders exhibit a tendency to switch play with long passes, involve multiple players in the box during crosses, and utilize technical players capable of delivering precise long balls into space.
    – Their attacking approach focuses on getting the ball into wide areas in the final third and delivering crosses, taking advantage of having two forwards and additional runners in the box for service.
    In summary, Seattle Sounders rely on the distribution and playmaking abilities of their defensive midfielder, utilize wingers in inner spaces, emphasize crossing situations, and involve overlapping fullbacks in their attacking play. They seek to switch the point of attack, penetrate through wide runs, and deliver crosses while ensuring multiple players are positioned in the box to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

  20. COLUMBUS CREW SC

    Columbus number 9 (LW) comes to play in the inner spaces, between the opponent’s defensive line and midfield line, and number 13 (RW) is usually responsible of the depth, trying to attack the space behind the FB or the space between FB and CB and trying to pin the opponents that they can’t step up to the pocket players. Sometimes he starts the play in wide positions but ends the play in inner spaces. In both cases, the wingers are trying to generate space on the flanks for both fullbacks, which are really aggressive and dangerous joining the attack and crossing from wide areas. Number 23 (CF) moves usually in the blind side of the CBs and attacks really aggressive the box. An other important player in the attacking face is number 10, who alternates between lower and higher positions in the middle, but who has an incredible ability to put good balls in the last third hiding his intentions with his body.
    To conclude is important to remark a clear pattern of how this team attacks the box. There’s always one player attacking the depth to make the defensive line drop, and an other player next to penalty spot waiting for the cut back. Usually, is number 23 who attacks the box agressively and number 10 or number 9 who wait for the cut back.

    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

    In that case we can see a clear pattern where the left winger attacks the space between CB and FB and receives either vertical or diagonal direct balls to that space. He has good abilities to run and attack the space, so his teammates look constantly for him. They use this pattern also in offensive transitions where he will not track back to defense and be ready for a quick attack. In that video we can see more often this pattern on the left side, with the left CB or FB sending balls behind the opponent’s RB.
    Looks like Vancouver are aiming to pin the opponent’s RB to avoid him stepping up to the LB who is going into higher positions and joining the attack. They are also aiming to move the opponent’s RCB out of position into wide areas where he won’t feel confortable.

    SEATTLE SOUNDERS

    Almost all the attacks from Seattle start finding number 6 (DM), who has the ability to play forward passes into the pockets or into the space with accuracy. In many situations the play starts in one side, and is number 6 who switches the play out finding the opposite pocket or a long diagonal ball into one of the flanks. Both wingers come to play into inner spaces, playing between the lines or covering the offensive depth, provoking the opponent’s fullbacks to close inside, what gives space on the sides for the fullbacks who are really offensive and join constantly the attacks.
    When they get into wide areas, we can see how the team gets ready for crossing situations. They occupy the box usually with minimum of 3 players, the centre-forward and both wingers, but sometimes we can see even 4 players in the box.
    We can see these patterns in established attacks but also in offensive transition.

  21. Columbus Crew SC
    Columbus attack and progress the ball into the final third through movements between their winger, fullback, and number 10. Winger and fullback are never on same vertical line and one will always look for ball to feet while other will look for ball in behind off the other. The entry passes into these wide combinations will usually be facilitated by number 20 and number 10. Number 20 will look to initiate the pattern by playing entry balls to either wide player or number 10. Number 10 looks to occupy spaces between back line and midfield line in the attacking half and is very dangerous in looking for slipped passes behind back line to either FB or winger. He tends to favor showing on the right side of the field as number 9 (left winger) has a tendency to come inside and float off the shoulder of a double pivot and fullback.
    From there, wide player on the end of ball in behind the back line will look to slide ball across the box for CF & opposite winger or look for cutback to number 10. Columbus is most dangerous when their wide triangles and movement can create a numerical advantage along back line and then ball can be slipped in behind. Much of their movement and patterns will look to create a chance from the same side that they enter into the final third and they tend to favor their right side for these patterns. Movement is much more fluid and automatic between 13 and 25 than opposite side.

    Vancouver Whitecaps
    Vancouver will look to enter the final third in a direct way. Many of their final third entries will come from direct balls from left back #2 into their center forward #29. Their aim is to attract opposition right back with left midfielder dropping deep and 29 running in behind opposition right back to pull opposition RCB into wide and 1v1 situations where 29’s pace and movement is advantageous. This movement will happen in established possession or in transition from defense to attack for Vancouver.

    Seattle Sounders
    Seattle looks to enter final third with established possession going through their number 6 into either winger tucking in or fullback getting high in the middle third or attacking half. This movement is looking to force opposition fullback into a decision defensively which likely leave one of the players open. This movement will most likely happen off a switch of play into the feet of winger tucking in or a diagonal ball into fullback who is getting high. This movement is a theme in both established build up or transition. Movement seemed most effective in transition when ball goes into 6 and then into opposite winger tucking in or fullback attacking the unoccupied space. Once in final third, Seattle will look to create chances and enter the box through direct service from fullbacks. Both fullbacks will look to cross from deeper positions and will look for aerial crosses. Opposite side winger, ST, and AM will look to get into box while near side winger or pivot players will look for cutback or collect clearances for a second wave attack.

  22. Columbus- Very little circulation, once on one side of the field, they look for small combinations between winger, midfielder and fullback. Holding midfielder looks to find 10 in between lines and half spaces, 10 often being crucial to finding balls behind oppositions line. This is used to get to the byline and find a cutback. The striker tends to stay in front of opposition backline, making himself available, before making darting runs into the box once a cross is available.

    Vancouver- Direct in attack, looking for balls down the line. Winger tends to start between FB and CB, making vertical runs behind the FB. Look to play in transitions when possible, again favoring passes in behind the backline. In these clips, there is a clear preference to the left side.

    Seattle- Look to switch the point of attack, with the holding midfielder being the key to this progression. Weakside winger will occupy the box when a cross is coming, along with the striker and midfielder (if possible). FBs get very high and move in relation to the winger; if the winger goes wide they will underlap and vice versa. Eager to put in crosses once the ball progresses to the final third.

  23. Columbus Crew Attacking Tendencies:
    – Movements off the ball into the half spaces deep in the opponent final third
    – They sometimes develop that scenario with short passes, rotations, and overloading one side
    – The run into the half space develops into a cross cutting back looking for a player on penalty spot
    – Midfielders, fullbacks, and wingers are usually the players making those runs
    – Center mid is sometimes the key for those through passes in between the lines to reach half space

    Vancouver WhiteCaps Attacking Tendencies:
    – Repeated pattern of left center back sending long ball for left winger attacking space in behind back line
    – There is a lot of long balls for strikers who are fast and exploit space
    – Heavy reliance on developing the play forward right away
    – Long passes and attacking the spaces with fast paced runs

    Seattle Sounders Attacking Tendencies:
    – Switching play for deep penetrating runs of fullbacks
    – Switches often happen with long passes or long balls covering a lot of ground
    – From deep wide runs of fullbacks, they try to get the ball into the box
    – Two strikers always fill the box and 1/2 midfielders accompany the action as well
    – Fullback are very involved in attacking play, with both overlapping and underlapping runs
    – A few players possess technical skills to deliver precise long balls over the top into space

  24. Columbus Crew: When moving the ball from the middle third into the attacking third they move the ball from the central channels into wide areas. Often they look to find the 10 who will find a pass that splits the defense into wide channels for either a winger or overlapping fullback and then they are looking for cutbacks and crosses.

    Vancouver Whitecaps: They look to skip out their midfield with direct balls from the defenders in behind the backline of their opponent. They looked to play this ball more often from their left side. Looking to create 1v1s and force the opposition to run back toward their own goal.

    Seattle Sounders: They look to get the balls into wide areas in the final third. This often comes from a switch from a central midfielder when he is in the middle third and he looks to find the space on the opposite side. Once the ball is in the wide channels of the final third they look to deliver crosses. They play with two forwards and will usually have at least two runners in the box for the service.

  25. Attacking Patterns

    Columbus Crew
    When in possession and in attacking third, via penetrating ground passes, central players are encouraged to exploit attacking players who are making vertical runs into half spaces (especially between and behind LB and LCB in clips) inside the box . These vertical runs into half spaces in the box allow for a quick cutback/cross or shot.

    Vancouver Whitecaps
    When in the middle third of the pitch, players are encouraged to find direct ball over or around the opponents backline to find the 9 who tends to make outward runs between and behind opponents FB and CB’s (especially behind opposing RB and RCB).

    Seattle Sounders
    When in possession, FB’s are prompted to take higher and wider spaces in the attacking third ; CM’s encouraged to switch the point of attack (to unbalance/stretch opponents), if possible, or simply play wide, creating early crossing opportunities, triggering runs into the box.

  26. Columbus Crew: Often use wide combination play to try and move the opposition defenders and find a slip pass into the half-space for a runner, who looks for a subsequent cross or cutback. They use runs from multiple players to create these moments, where the first runner creates space that the second can run into. In the middle third they remain compact centrally, allowing them to break out wide and look for that aforementioned pass quickly.

    Vancouver Whitecaps: Tend to look for space in behind the defensive line, specifically in the wider areas. They arrive there usually by using long looping passes over the top of the defenders, bypassing their midfield often, although at times also slipping into the same space behind. They ensure this space behind will be there by keeping the forwards and midfield from moving too high.

    Seattle Sounders: Big emphasis on using the width in their play. Their overall goal is to win duels in the box off of a cross. They get to this point by using long switches in the middle third and then using crosses in the air from the wide channel. When in the final third, they’re combining and overloading the wide area to find a slip pass behind, which would result in cutbacks.

  27. Columbus Crew: their preferred chance creation process is to find runners in the half spaces – either directly with a pass or through ball or using combinations (e.g. with a full back in the lateral wide channel) – who then crosses into the dangerous areas in the box, or uses a cutback pass depending on the situation.
    Vancouver Whitecaps: they rely on quick, vertical and agressive transitions as soon as they regain the ball in their own half, usually launching long balls in behind the defense to forwards to create 1v1s with the keeper or (for instance if the pass received is too far from the goal and more in a wide channel) or to launch crosses to the other forwards running into the box
    Seattle Sounders: their main outlet is their quick full backs who make darting runs in the wide channels whenever there’s freed up space, they use fast switches and through balls to isolate them in the crossing positions and the other attackers, midfielders or opposite full backs make runs into the box to catch them

  28. Columbus Crew:
    When Columbus Crew attack they tend to use the width when creating play. Which happens due to the full backs pushing forwards and supporting the attack. Once in a favorable position out wide they tend to cross the ball into the box trying to find an attacking player or cutting it back if there is no one to directly cross to. With the strikers pushing the defenders back and trying to get in behind.
    Whitecaps:
    There attacks are very direct. They tend to use lots of long ariel balls up the pitch to try and get in behind the opposition defenders to try and get there strikers onto the ball then they will be 1 on 1 with the oppositions goalkeeper.
    Seattle:
    When Seattle attack they focus more on width. With them constantly trying to find there wingers with long balls out wide to maximize the width of the pitch. With the full backs also helps the wingers on attack with the width. Once they get into a favorable position then they produce a variety of crosses into the back to try and find one of the attacking players.

  29. *Columbus Crew Attacking Tendencies*

    Style of play: Possession based which requires winged play using the left/right fullbacks. When in the final third of the field, fullbacks deliver passes to their center midfielders, which fullbacks push up to support the attack. Midfielders, then create through passes to their target forwards, usually at the top of the 18-yard box. Midfielders checking into space behind the opposing midfields line, between opposing players. When in possession they tend to also overload one side of the field to where the ball is located at the present time. They then create a numerical advantage on the sides of the field. Therefore, quick passes from the fullbacks, then passes to their midfielders who then creating that through passes to their overlapping fullbacks to to send in crosses to their waiting strikers.
    Key Players:
    Right/Left Fullbacks – Looking to connect on the wings to midfielders or wingers
    Central Midfielder(s) – Quick through passes from the half space
    Striker (Target forward) – Making diagonal and late runs to get in behind defender to receive their midfielders through pass.

    *WhiteCaps attacking Tendencies*
    Style of Play: Direct play counter attack with long-balls sent over the top to left winger. Whitecaps are utilizing their long ball play from their left fullback to initiate the attack. Most passes sent forward to the midfielders are then sent back to their fullback. This will drag in opposing players to create space for the wingers when they are in their own half. Then, a long aerial pass is played over the backline defense for their pacy left winger to run on to. Also, when in the opponents half, they tend to send a long through pass on the ground to their left winger as well.
    Key Player(s):
    Left Fullback
    Left Winger

    *Seattle Sounders*
    Style of play: Direct play, switching the field often to their overlapping right fullback who continually crosses the ball into the box when in the final third of the field. When Seattle is in their own half they tend to play out quickly by making a long aerial pass to switch the point of attack, which fullbacks are high up the field to receive. Fullbacks are activated quickly once in transition or in possession, they support every attack. Midfielders who receive passes are often looking to play back to their fullbacks or send a diagonal long ball to their fullback into space on the other side of the field. Strikers are waiting in the box for crosses to be sent in from the fullbacks.
    Keep Players:
    Fullbacks
    Center Midfielders

  30. Columbus Crew FC
    Midfielder 10m in opponents half is seeking a sudden straight pass on the ground between FB / CB or CBs wherever the is open space .. Center Forward sometimes also attacks space in front of defense. . Fullback helps out and moves in the front to have 2:1 in some Occasion . Next pass very often then into the box 5m line crosspass or back to 16m line wherever is a player available.

    Vancouver Whitecaps FC
    The Team Seeks their fast and technical strong left winger and gives wide high Passes from own half behind defense whenever there is an opportunity and defense is high.

    Seattle Sounders FC
    Fullbacks helping alot in offensive play . attacking space in Corners in Order to play crossball into the box. Central midfielder is key player for delivering ball to that spaces either high or to a running up FB.
    Especially when chain is concentrated on one Side they change sides quite quick by running up FB .

  31. *Columbus Crew FC

    Possession style of play

    Attacking tendencies:
    Final 1/3 entries with penetrating passes on the ground behind opponent’s back line into the right half space and the right wide channel:
    -penetrating passes into the right half space for underlapping right fullback, underlapping right winger or center midfielder who looks to deliver end line cross, early cross or cut back into the “second”
    6yd box
    – through ball from the right wide channel into the right half space for underlapping right winger
    – diagonal penetrating pass to the right fullback in the wide channel

    Key players:
    Right fullback, right winger, center midfielder
    They are positioned in the right wide channel, right half space ( higher- between opponent’s LCB and LFB) and right half space (deeper) usually in a triangle, often interchanging positions

    *Vancouver Whitecaps FC

    Direct style of play

    Attacking tendencies:
    Looking to exploit the space behind opponent’s back line with long balls in the air intended for the left forward/ winger who usually position himself between opponent’s RCB and RFB
    Variation- when ball carrier is in the left wide channel in the final 1/3- the final pass to the forward is on the ground in the left half space

    Key players:
    Left forward/winger, left centre back, left fullback

    *Seattle Sounders FC

    Possession style of play
    Good positional organization
    2-3-5 structure in the final 1/3 when controlled possession in the middle 1/3
    Fullbacks high and wide available for through balls in wide areas or half spaces
    Final 1/3 entries – passes in the wide channels for a fullback or winger to deliver a cross

    Attacking tendencies:
    Attacking transition occur in defending 1/3 or middle 1/3- quick switch the point of attack from the left channel through center midfielder to opposite side right fullback for early or end line cross
    During the creation phase in the middle 1/3- switch the point of attack with a long ball in the air to either right winger or left fullback for early cross
    During the creation phase in the middle 1/3- with ball carrier in the central channel, right and left fullbacks look to join the attack to create overload in the wide channels and deliver crosses from these areas
    CF, RW and LW look to occupy key areas in the penalty box- near post, far post and top of the box to get on the end of these crosses

    Key players:
    Right fullback, left fullback, center midfielder

  32. Columbus: Their side backs both pushes forward, and they like to create side overloads, preferably on the right side. One of their Side backs or wingers would position themselves into the half space, in between the centre back and the side back, while the other stays wide. They play short passes and likes to play between the lines. Their chance creations mostly comes from cutbacks from inside the box to a midfielder arriving late in the box, around the penalty spot.

    Vancouver: They usually dont commit a lot forward, and tries to keep the possession in their own half, and uses long direct passes to get the ball to the striker, which has the preference to drift to the left in between the centre back and the side back and receive the ball behind the defence line.

    Seattle: Once they win the ball back they would try distribute the ball to the wings through one of the CMs that are open for a pass, while their wingers would tuck in the half spaces of each sides. The Side back would then push forward and occupy the space vacated by the wingers.
    When the Side back receives the ball near the touchline and look get make a good cross in deeper positions, with the two strikers would move in the box while the wingers would stay at the edge of the box.

  33. Colombus – Once they’ve gotten into the final third spaces of the pitch, they look to attack down the right hand side. They enjoy getting their players within the half spaces, who look to get a cross into either the striker (normally making diagonal runs towards GK, or attacking midfielders who are making later runs into the box trying to score goals from deeper positions)

    Vancouver – Looking to play a more vertical game – Vancouver usually build up until around midfield and then look to go with a long ball – focusing on the left side of the pitch. Trying to move the ball as quickly as they can from back to front to disrupt any potential press an opponent may have, looking to create issues for opposition back lines by playing vertically, trying to get in behind.

    Seattle – Enjoy playing in transition moments – very good at winning the ball back and quickly shifting the ball from side to side. Looking to stretch opposition midfield/defence when recovering possession of the ball and get their fullbacks high up the pitch and getting them in 1v1 situations with opposing fullbacks – looking to cross the ball into good areas for their striker to be able to attack the box and score goals.

  34. COLUMBUS CREW
    The team tends to play on the right side of the field. Right Back goes in-depth to follow the play and be part of the attaching phase.
    They play with a great combination of passing patterns, and breaking lines. The team plays together to create passing lines and arrive at the box.

    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
    Vancouver plays a high ball to the space around 25 m and long balls to the wingers around 45 m. The Left Back and Central Left Back are the ones to look for the forwards in order to make the run through the opponent’s back line.

    SEATTLE SOUNDERS
    Seattle likes to begin the play from the Left Back and he makes a pass to the midfielder, and this one switches the ball to the Right Back who is making an overlap and crosses the ball into the box.
    Also, the Central Back makes a long ball to the winger / Right Back in order to exploit the spaces and keep progressing to the goal.

  35. Columbus Crew
    1. All clips show their attacking pattern from the right side
    2. Columbus splits the opponent’s LCB and LB to play through them into the half-space or penalty box to either cross or deliver a cutback. Crosses and cutbacks come from Columbus overlapping Right Back or from underneath runs into the penalty box.
    3. Columbus penetrates the right wide side of the field and doesn’t change the point of attack in those clips.
    4. Columbus’s entry passes into the opponent’s 18-yard box come from combination play and shorter passes from right half-spaces.
    5. Finishing from Columbus Crew needs to be better as well.

    Vancouver Whitecaps
    1. Vancouver’s Center backs play direct balls over the opponent’s back line, preferably over the opponent’s Left-Back and LCB. Balls over the opponents’ backline come from the midfield line and sometimes from Vancouver’s own half.
    2. Vancouver’s strikers are doing inside-out runs to receive balls from their Center Backs in left-half channels or within the 18-yard box.
    3. Vancouver’s left back plays a ball down the left side into the 18-yard box, Vancouver’s strikers are doing inside-out runs to receive the ball.

    Seattle Sounders
    1. Seattle attacks with their high and wide Fullback who receives balls from diagonal passes from the midfield.
    2. Seattle changes the point of attack with long diagonal balls to the right Fullback who overlaps his winger.
    3. Seattle attacks with crosses and cutbacks from their right Fullback.
    4. Seattle’s Strikers stay very central to leave space for fullbacks on the outside. Strikers then look for entry runs into the opponent’s 18-yard box.

  36. ~ COLUMBUS CREW ~
    Attacking Tendency:
    – When Columbus Crew (CC) have controlled possession in the opposition half, a repeated pattern of play to enter the final third is aiming to get in behind the opposition’s last line of defence, specifically into the half-space channel, on their right-hand side
    – CC aim to direct vertical, line breaking ground passes, from deeper in the right half-space channel, in between the opposition’s left-sided centre back and fullback

    Attacking Outcome:
    – CC try to access in behind into the half-space channel so that the ball receiver can receive directly inside the penalty box (or can quickly carry inside)
    – Once inside the penalty box, the ball receiver will primarily look to make ground crosses / cutbacks into central areas (e.g. horizontally = width of the goal posts & vertically = between goal line & penalty spot)

    Key Players:
    – CC tend to manufacture this pattern of play by using a wide triangle between three players on their right-hand side, namely a fullback, central midfielder and winger / forward

    Attack Creation:
    – Whilst these three players can interchange, the typcial roles of each within this pattern of play involve;
    1) a deeper player positioned in the half-space (e.g. the central midfielder) who makes the vertical pass in behind
    2) a wider player positioned high and on the outside of the opposition fullback (e.g. the fullback) who helps stretch the opposition defensive line
    3) an interior player positioned in the half-space channel up against the opposition defensive line (e.g. winger / forward) who receives the pass by making a run in behind or receiving on the half turn to carry into the space in behind

    Attack Variety:
    – Variations of this pattern of play can involve;
    1) the fullback making an underlapping run from deep, in between the opposition centre back and fullback, if the winger is occupying a wider position
    2) the ball receiver shooting or making an aerial cross if they perceive a better option

    ***

    ~ VANCOUVER WHITECAPS ~
    Attacking Tendency:
    – When Vancouver Whitecaps (VW) have possession in the middle third of the pitch (mainly on the halfway line or inside their own half), a repeated attacking route into the final third is long aerial passes in behind the opposition defensive line, into the left half-space channel
    – These passes tend to be made from deeper on their left-hand side for the left-sided forward to run onto, who makes a run in between the opposition centre back and fullback

    Attacking Outcome:
    – VW ideally want to get the left-sided forwarded in behind the opposition defensive line, in the final third, so that they can then shoot directly at goal once in control of the ball

    Key Players:
    – The key players involved in this pattern of play are the left fullback / left sided centre back (who make the long aerial passes in behind) and the left-sided forward (who makes the run in behind in left half-space channel)

    Attack Creation:
    – Typically VW look to execute this attack when in middle third possession, against an opposition in a mid-block so therefore 1) lack of pressure on the passer (left fullback / centre back) who has time and space to execute the pass and 2) space in behind the opposition defensive line for the left-sided forward to to attack / exploit

    Other References:
    – VW can also look to exploit this space in behind, in the left-half channel, in attacking transitions, with passes from their own third, following turnovers in possession

    ***

    ~ SEATTLE SOUNDERS ~
    Attacking Tendency:
    – A repeated attacking tactic from Seattle Sounders (SS) is using width in the final third to attack and create a variety of crossing opportunities into the opposition penalty box

    Attacking Outcome:
    – Once SS have the ball out wide in the final third, they can vary their crossing style, using aerial crosses, ground crosses, cutbacks, + where they direct the cross e.g. near post, between the goal posts and far post
    – A key feature of this attack is the number of players they get into the oppostion penalty box, which tends to be a minimum of three and these players tend to make different movements inside the box to give coverage / threat e.g. a player each attacking the near post, centrally (between the posts) and far post

    Key Players:
    – The wingers and fullbacks (making overlapping runs or runs from deep) are the players who offer the width in the final third
    – Then the multiple players inside the box who try to get on the end of the crossing opportunity

    Attack Creation:
    – SS tend to initiate these attacks from their own half and create space out wide in th final third through a varierty of ways, including:
    1) using forward / attacking players to occupy central areas to narrow the opposition defensive line, thus creating space out wide for the wingers to pull out into or fullback to advance into from deep
    2) diagonal switches of play to the opposition weak side e.g. build up deep on the left-hand side to draw the opposition over to that side of the pitch and then switching the ball into space on the right-hand side for the right winger or right fullback to advance into

    ***

  37. ~ COLUMBUS CREW ~
    Attacking Tendency:
    – When Columbus Crew (CC) have controlled possession in the opposition half, a repeated pattern of play to enter the final third is aiming to get in behind the opposition’s last line of defence, specifically into the half-space channel, on their right-hand side
    – CC aim to direct vertical, line breaking ground passes, from deeper in the right half-space channel, in between the opposition’s left-sided centre back and fullback

    Attacking Outcome:
    – CC try to access in behind into the half-space channel so that the ball receiver can receive directly inside the penalty box (or can quickly carry inside)
    – Once inside the penalty box, the ball receiver will primarily look to make ground crosses / cutbacks into central areas (e.g. horizontally = width of the goal posts & vertically = between goal line & penalty spot)

    Key Players:
    – CC tend to manufacture this pattern of play by using a wide triangle between three players on their right-hand side, namely a fullback, central midfielder and winger / forward

    Attack Creation:
    – Whilst these three players can interchange, the typical roles of each within this pattern of play involve;
    1) a deeper player positioned in the half-space (e.g. the central midfielder) who makes the vertical pass in behind
    2) a wider player positioned high and on the outside of the opposition fullback (e.g. the fullback) who helps stretch the opposition defensive line
    3) an interior player positioned in the half-space channel up against the opposition defensive line (e.g. winger / forward) who receives the pass by making a run in behind or receiving on the half turn to carry into the space in behind

    Attack Variety:
    – Variations of this pattern of play can involve;
    1) the fullback making an underlapping run from deep, in between the opposition centre back and fullback, if the winger is occupying a wider position
    2) the ball receiver shooting or making an aerial cross if they perceive a better option

    ***

    ~ VANCOUVER WHITECAPS ~
    Attacking Tendency:
    – When Vancouver Whitecaps (VW) have possession in the middle third of the pitch (mainly on the halfway line or inside their own half), a repeated attacking route into the final third is long aerial passes in behind the opposition defensive line, into the left half-space channel
    – These passes tend to be made from deeper on their left-hand side for the left-sided forward to run onto, who makes a run in between the opposition centre back and fullback

    Attacking Outcome:
    – VW ideally want to get the left-sided forwarded in behind the opposition defensive line, in the final third, so that they can then shoot directly at goal once in control of the ball

    Key Players:
    – The key players involved in this pattern of play are the left fullback / left sided centre back (who make the long aerial passes in behind) and the left-sided forward (who makes the run in behind in left half-space channel)

    Attack Creation:
    – Typically VW look to execute this attack when in middle third possession, against an opposition in a mid-block so therefore 1) lack of pressure on the passer (left fullback / centre back) who has time and space to execute the pass and 2) space in behind the opposition defensive line for the left-sided forward to to attack / exploit

    Other References:
    – VW can also look to exploit this space in behind, in the left-half channel, in attacking transitions, with passes from their own third, following turnovers in possession

    ***

    ~ SEATTLE SOUNDERS ~
    Attacking Tendency:
    – A repeated attacking tactic from Seattle Sounders (SS) is using width in the final third to attack and create a variety of crossing opportunities into the opposition penalty box

    Attacking Outcome:
    – Once SS have the ball out wide in the final third, they can vary their crossing style, using aerial crosses, ground crosses, cutbacks, + where they direct the cross e.g. near post, between the goal posts and far post
    – A key feature of this attack is the number of players they get into the opposition penalty box, which tends to be a minimum of three and these players tend to make different movements inside the box to give coverage / threat e.g. a player each attacking the near post, centrally (between the posts) and far post

    Key Players:
    – The wingers and fullbacks (making overlapping runs or runs from deep) are the players who offer the width in the final third
    – Then the multiple players inside the box who try to get on the end of the crossing opportunity

    Attack Creation:
    – SS tend to initiate these attacks from their own half and create space out wide in th final third through a variety of ways, including:
    1) using forward / attacking players to occupy central areas to narrow the opposition defensive line, thus creating space out wide for the wingers to pull out into or fullback to advance into from deep
    2) diagonal switches of play to the opposition weak side e.g. build up deep on the left-hand side to draw the opposition over to that side of the pitch and then switching the ball into space on the right-hand side for the right winger or right fullback to advance into

    ***

  38. Columbus prioritize attacking on the right hand side by splitting the LB and LCB to create chances in the half space/ assist zone. Even when they use an overlap that occurs in the wide channel, the attacker dribbles inward into the assist zone before passing.

    Vancouver looks to attack the space behind the opponent’s back line (the offside space), primarily on the left wing. They prioritize attacking this space with a long ball over the top. The 3 likes to deliver the ball, and does so when their winger is isolated and runs behind the back line.

    Seattle looks to spread out, which challenges the opposing back line’s defensive shape, and then they attack the wide channels by either playing through or around the opposition. Often switching the point of attack first, they get the ball wide and prioritize crossing into the box.

  39. COLUMBUS
    High Block Attacking Tendencies | Maximum width from either winger or wide back to pull opposition wide backs away from half spaces. Constant occupation of ball side half space. Aim to find runners in the half spaces behind the deepest defensive lines CB and ball side WB. All service comes from half spaces, with priority on cutback crosses and service/runs near the penalty spot. #10 looks for reverse balls against shifting defensive lines, and ball side wide backs will occupy wide channels but look to make interior runs from deep positions as a 3rd man.

    VANCOUVER
    High Block/Mid-High Block Attacking Tendencies | Direct approach. Any forward facing player across their back line in the Mid-High/Mid-Low with time space will look to play forward as quickly as possible into runners that start from half spaces and run toward wide channels across the CB and behind the WB. Aim is to pull opposition ball side CB away from central channel creating space for midfield runs and weak side winger into the box

    SEATTLE
    High Block/Mid-High Block Attacking Tendencies | Key players are wing backs. Wingers will pin opposition wide backs in the half spaces, with the ST occupying the two center backs centrally, creating space in wide channels for wide backs to overload. Interiors will combine to attract midfield and deepest defensive lines to create more space in the high block to be exploited by late vertical wide runs. Purpose is to create service opportunities from high block wide channels while ensuring 3 runners (7,9,11) into the box with consistency.

  40. Columbus – Predominately played down the right hand side with the intention of accessing a teammate in behind the oppositions back line through the channel between the oppositions left fullback and left centre back. Given that the oppositions back 4 kept their line outside the penalty box, Columbus used the split pass to access the space for runners in behind. Main key players were #10, #9, #13, #14 and #25 who were flexible in their positioning down the right side. There were three variations in how they could get in behind. The first being where the opposition defence is set and Columbus has a player receives the ball already positioned in the half space. The second and more common scenario is where Columbus’ right winger recognises that the player on the ball in the channel is comfortable (in space). That is the cue for him to start his run in behind cutting from outside to in. And finally the last variation where the ball travels to the widest player in order the pass to be made for the inside midfielder making the run in behind. Once the runner received the ball in behind, an aerial cross would typically be made, searching for the striker (23) with #13 and #9 also positioning themselves in the box (deeper than #23).

    Vancouver – Looking down the left side more often, key players for Vancouver include #26 (LCB) and #2 (LFB) and #25 (Wide Striker). For most scenarios, #25 would be positioned in wider areas and on the opposition back line as the ball pushed to the left side. Importantly, the opposition’s back line were typically half way inside their own half when #26 and #2 receive the ball and look to find their Wide Striker from the half way line. Types of balls that #25 would be receiving were either on top of him, or in behind for him to run onto. Given the physical profile of the player, he is more of a threat in 50/50 scenario’s than receiving the ball to feet and playing short combination passes. So the game plan was to try and isolate him against the oppositions right centre back as much as possible.

    Seattle – Intention for Seattle is to find a way to get their widest players with as much time and space to cross the ball into the box. One of the key players who was their deeper midfielder #6 who was able to play long diagonal passes straight to the widest players. Play typically started down the left side and then quickly progressed to the right touchline with #4 pushing higher to provide the crosses. Given the deeper positioning of the opposition back line when the widest player received the ball, crosses were harder hit, aerial crosses rather than balls being floated in.

  41. First, I would like to explain some key field location terms that I use before analyzing the clips. These terms are important for important reference points and clear visuals when speaking about the field.

    I break the field down into 2 general portions an attacking half and a defensive half. The attacking half is in reference to the team and their direction. For example, if I say Team A in the attacking half that would mean we are in Team B’s defensive half. The more specific pieces are the defensive third, middle third, and attacking third if I need to describe a more detailed location of the ball.

    The other piece of information is that I refer to 5 vertical channels on the field. 2 Wide Channels and 3 Central channels. The two channels parallel to the main central channel could be called Half Spaces OR Interior Wide Channels.

    Columbus Crew:
    The Crew common trend in the attacking half of the field is an attempt to pass the ball into the interior wide channels (half space) usually to #10. The moment they achieve this, they then look to play passes in behind the last line of defenders in order to create crossing situations from the wide channels or the half space inside the box. There are also moments in which they look to run in behind the last line from the Half Space if the ball goes into the wide channel. Overall I would say their main goal is to find ways to penetrate in behind through this Half Space vertical channel and then serve the ball depending on the available space into the PK area or top of the 6yd box.

    Whitecaps:
    The whitecaps common trend in the attacking half of the field or even from their own half is to exploit the space in behind the last line of defenders with use of runs in behind from central areas (inside to outside runs). Their left winger can be seen dropping down in an attempt to pull the outside back out of position so their Central Forward can make runs in behind into the wide channel. They look to get the ball wide to the left if they can and then play passes in behind the last line of defenders into the wide channel. There was one occasion in which the ball came into the wide channel and was played in behind into the half space for a run in behind from inside to outside. Overall their goal is to find a way to get in behind in the wide channels as quickly as possible with their Central Forward making runs in behind into the wide channel.

    Sounders:
    The sounders common trend in the attacking half was an attempt to find their outside backs running in behind in the wide channels in order to serve the ball into the box. They usually achieved this through long diagonal switches of play via their Central Mids in order to reach the wide channels as fast as possible. Their wingers and central forward would make an attempt to get into the box in order to be ready to attack crosses. Overall their goal was to find a way to get the ball into the wide channels and then serve the ball into the box as quick as possible with the use of their outside backs and long diagonal switches of play.

  42. Columbus Crew – Likes to play on the right side of the pitch when attacking into the final third. They like to find the cutting through ball to someone running onto it in the box. Higuain (#10) performed this through ball action 4 times in the video. They alternate between the through ball and sending the ball down the wing and crossing into the box where usually #9, #13 are targets. #8 will aid in the build up of an attack on occasion in the middle of the park and #25 is one to watch from a crossing/final pass perspective.

    Vancouver Whitecaps – Like to play mostly down the left, where you’ll see either their LB or CB sending long balls up to their striker looking for the possible breakaway. LB seems to look straight away for the long ball to the ST.

    Seattle Sounders – Unlike Columbus and Vancouver, we can see Seattle switching it up between the left/right hand sides. They play a lot on the wings with their CMs (namely Alonso) sending through balls or long balls either to their LB/LW or RB/LW (#4 a number of times) who make the run in behind or into space to eventually cross it into the box to an oncoming attacker.

  43. 1.) Columbus look to play balls in through the half space between the LB& LCB in order to create crossing/goalscoring opportunities.

    2.) Whitecaps like to isolate their forwards/wingers and play directly into them over the top predominantly on the left side & then look to either shoot or serve balls in the space behind the defense.

    3.) Seattle aims to make the pitch as wide as possible to stretch out the opposition backline and then serve balls or make runs in behind the oppositions back line

  44. – Columbus Crew SC tends to utilize runs made by the right winger (RW) in the final third on the right side, between the wing back and center back, in order to create crossing opportunities for the center forward/attacking midfielder (CF/AM). These runs often result in pull backs. On occasion, the RW will drift wide and the right back (RB) will make runs into the channel between the wing back and center back.

    – The Vancouver Whitecaps often attempt to create scoring opportunities by hitting long balls over the opposition’s defense in an attempt to find the runs of their forward players. These long balls tend to originate from the left side of the pitch, specifically from the left back. The left back typically looks to connect with the left winger (LW) with curving passes that aim to exploit the space behind the defense and allow the LW to get in behind and potentially run on to score

    – Seattle Sounders aim to create scoring opportunities by utilizing wide areas and crossing the ball into the box. They often look to quickly switch play with long balls from the central midfielders in order to open up space on the wings. The crosses delivered by the Sounders can vary in terms of length and velocity, but they often target the front post in an attempt to find a teammate for a scoring chance.

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