USA 1 – Mexico 1: Pressing Is Difficult

What was it Henry Sanders said? Pressing isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing?

In our match preview, we exhorted Jurgen Klinsmann to instruct his squad to constantly pressure Mexico. He didn’t do it. But his counterpart, José Manuel de la Torre, sure did. And guess which team dominated the run of play?

Check out the following interception chalkboards:

Over the course of the match, Mexico intercepted more passes in higher areas than the United States.

Not only did Mexico pick off more passes than the United States, they generally intercepted them in higher areas (implying a much higher level of pressing). This tactic didn’t just prevent the US from gaining an offensive rhythm, it gave Mexico the ball in extremely advantageous positions. Their pressing, in addition to their intelligent, accurate passes, allowed the visitors to grab a 126 passes completed advantage.

Of course, the above chalkboards are only for the first 70 minutes. Look what happened over the final twenty.

The Americans weren't exactly employing Barcelona-style pressing at the end of the match, but they certainly had more energy than their opponents in the game's final stages.

Jonathan Wilson once had this to say about defensive pressure: Pressing with intensity is exhausting, and cannot be kept up for long periods.

Wilson’s observation was uncannily relevant to last night’s friendly. Mexico simply couldn’t keep up the pressure and a resurgent US was able to make use of the extra space.

And perhaps that was Klinsmann’s strategy. Wait for the other team to get tired. Hope they don’t score too many goals before their legs give out. And maybe we’ll be able to bag one at the end!

Ok, maybe we’re being a bit harsh. It was his first game; at halftime he talked about the importance of pressing; and his substitutions worked wonders. But, gringos, don’t the above chalkboards say a lot?

And be on the lookout tomorrow for a more traditional FFG analysis, courtesy of Ben.

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. bensten says:

    Yes, they do say a lot–Klinsmann was being cautious coming out of the gates, but once he got a handle he cranked the volume slightly.

    You might have been a little harsh. I may play the good cop to your bad cop in tomorrow’s post…

    • Michael says:

      Actually, both teams came out pressuring from the start, the Mexicans just did a better job of it from the get go. But lo and behold, JK’s emphasis on fitness began to pay off dividends in the second half. The Mexican team most definitely could not keep up the pace and it showed. The Us took advantage and took it to Mexico. Mexico at the end was desperate and was forgiven for the obvious red flag that should have been called when a US player was grabbed and stopped from attacking the mexican goal unmarked.

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