Advanced Passing Stats – USWNT vs. England – SheBelieves Cup 2018

For this summary of passing stats from the USA-England SheBelieves 2018 match, as with past summaries of the USA-Germany match and the USA-France match, and I’m only going to look at open play passes. Open play passes excludes passes from dead ball scenarios – throw-ins, free kick passes, goal kicks, and corner kick passes are all discounted.

I will break down the passing stats by position groups. First, let’s look at the formations the teams used.

The Formations

The United States started the match with a 4-3-3 formation. The centerbacks were Tierna Davidson and Abby Dahlkemper, the fullbacks were Crystal Dunn on the left and Emily Sonnett on the right, the defensive midfielder was Allie Long, the other more attacking-minded center midfielders were Lindsey Horan and Carli Lloyd, the two forward wingers were Megan Rapinoe on the left and Mallory Pugh on the right, and the center forward was Alex Morgan.

Later in the match, after a pair of substitutions in the 74th minute, the formation changed to a 3-4-3. This after an own goal gave the United States the lead. The substitutions were Sofia Huerta, who played as a wingback, and Morgan Brian, who played as a defensive midfielder, for Long and Horan. The result was some shuffling around with the back three being Davidson, Sonnett moving into the center, and Dahlkemper; the two center midfielders being Brian as the defensive midfielder and Lloyd as the attacking midfielder; the wingbacks being Dunn on the left and Huerta on the right, and the front three still being Rapinoe, Morgan, and Pugh.

A couple of minutes later, after Savannah McCaskill was subbed into the game for Rapinoe, the United States took on an even more defensive-minded formation of 5-3-2. The back five still being Dunn, Davidson, Sonnett, Dahlkemper, and Huerta; the three midfielders being McCaskill, Brian, and Lloyd; and the front two being Morgan, Pugh, and later Williams who was subbed on for Pugh very late in the game.

The English started the match with a 4-2-3-1 formation. The centerbacks were Millie Bright and Abbie McManus, the fullbacks were Demi Stokes on the left and Lucy Bronze on the right, the two defensive midfielders were Keira Walsh and Izzy Christiansen, the attacking midfielder was Fran Kirby, the two wingers started off as Ellen White on the left and Melissa Lawley on the right, and the center forward was Jodie Taylor.

Later in the match, after a pair of substitutions in the 51st minute when Nikita Parris and Toni Duggan replaced Taylor and Duggan, White played as center forward, Parris played as the right winger, and Duggan played as the left winger.

Finally, after Kirby was subbed off in the 74th minute for Rachel Daly, the English changed to a 4-4-2 formation with Daly taking the right wing, Parris moving to the left wing, and Duggan and White playing as the two center forwards. At times it looked like England would go back to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 on the attack when the Duggan would drop into a deeper role.

The Centerbacks

The two U.S. centerbacks saw more of the ball than any other position group, attempting a combined 159 open play pass attempts between Dahlkemper and Davidson, completing 89% and 81%, respectively. The two attempted a high number of launched balls and Dahlkemper had the most success, attempting 18 launched balls from open play and completing 56%, more than Davidson’s 7 attempts for only one completed launched ball. Dahlkemper completed 2/3 through ball attempts from open play and even managed to push up the field high enough to attempt and complete 2 crosses.

The two English centerbacks saw far less of the ball, with McManus attempting 35 open play passes and Bright attempting only 15, each completing 80%. The two passed the ball around between each other (or back to their goalkeeper Karen Bardsley) far less than their American counterparts – 69% of McManus’ and 53% of Bright’s open play pass attempts went forward, compared to 42% for Dahlkemper and 48% for Davidson. So, when McManus or Bright got the ball, they were more likely to drive it forward.

The Fullbacks

The U.S. fullbacks were secure with the ball, with the two with at least 10 open play pass attempts, Sonnett and Dunn, completing 91% and 92%, respectively. No other player in the game with at least 10 attempts had a higher completion percentage. Sonnett’s completion percentage is likely inflated due to the minutes she played as a centerback and the amount of her pass attempts that went backwards – 52%, the second-highest in the game. However, even from her more withdrawn role compared to Dunn, Sonnett was able to complete two through balls from open plays. Dunn didn’t complete a cross or a through ball, but she did have 50% of her pass attempts go forward, tied for third-highest on the team with Lloyd.

The English fullbacks had a lower completion percentage but were far more aggressive with their passes. Bronze and Stokes, the two English fullbacks with at least 10 open play pass attempts, had a lower completion percentage of 68% and 74%, respectively. A higher percentage of those pass attempts went forward, 64% for Bronze and 56% for Stokes, higher than the two U.S. fullbacks and higher than anyone else on their team with at least 10 open play pass attempts except Bardsley and Christiansen at 58%. The two combined for 5 cross attempts but Stokes completed the only one, 9 launched balls of which Bronze completed the only 3, and neither completed their one through ball attempt.

The Center Midfielders

The U.S. midfielders saw Horan with arguably the most contributions to the attack, while Lloyd had less pass attempts and a lower completion percentage. Long had the highest completion percentage of the three, 88%, but 41% of those pass attempts were going backwards compared to 33% for Horan and 20% for Lloyd. Lloyd mostly played as the #10, in a more attacking-minded role compared to Horan who played in more of a #8 role alongside Long. However, Lloyd was unable to even attempt one cross or through ball, while Horan, playing 20 less minutes, completed her 2 cross attempts and 3 out of her 5 through ball attempts.

The English midfielders were a mixed bag, with the defensive midfielders keeping a high completion percentage but their attacking midfielder, Kirby, struggling to pass the ball with a completion percentage of 69%. In the double pivot of Christiansen and Walsh, Christiansen was the more attacking-minded with 58% of her open play pass attempts going forward compared to Walsh’s 38%. Christiansen also completed 3/7 launched ball attempts, 1/3 cross attempts, and 1/5 through ball attempts.

The Forwards & Wingers

Out of the U.S. forwards, Rapinoe was the most aggressive with only 14% of her open play pass attempts going forward, the lowest of anyone on the field except for England’s Bright, compared to 44% for Pugh and 37% for Morgan. She had the lowest completion percentage of the three, completing 61% of her open play pass attempts compared to 70% for Pugh and 68% for Morgan, but she was the only U.S. forward to complete a cross (out of a game-high 9 attempts) and she was the only one to complete a through ball (out of two attempts).

The English forwards and wingers saw the ball far less and saw a variety of completion percentages, with Duggan completing 82% of her 11 open play pass attempts, Lawley completing 75% of her 12, and White completing 58% of her 12. White had a higher percentage of her open play pass attempts going forward, 50%, than any other forwards or wingers in the game.

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Advanced Passing Stats – USWNT vs. France – SheBelieves Cup 2018

Similar to the last post I wrote for the USA-GER match, we’re going to look at passing stats for the latest USA-FRA SheBelieves match, with an added look at specific types of passes such as launched and through balls. Like last time, we’ll only look at open play passes – which excludes throw-ins, free kick passes, goal kicks, and corner kick passes.

Formations

The United States started out with a 3-4-3 on offense that turned into a 4-3-3 on defense. In the 3-4-3; the back three was Tierna Davidson, Andi Sullivan, and Abby Dahlkemper; the wingbacks were Kelley O’Hara on the left, Abby Smith on the right, and Casey Short on the right after Smith was subbed out; the center midfielders were Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan, and Savannah McCaskill after Horan was subbed out, and the front three forwards were Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Lynn Williams after Rapinoe was subbed out. On defense, the 3-4-3 would turn into a 4-3-3 with the wingbacks dropping back to defend and Sullivan moving up the midfield in front of the backline. In that 4-3-3, Crystal Dunn played as a fullback and Christen Press played as a forward winger

Later in the game, sometime after the 72nd minute after Sullivan was subbed out and an injury to Short, the 3-4-3 stuck to a 4-3-3 for the rest of the game. On attack the fullbacks would continue to move up, but no center midfielder dropped back to form a back three.

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The French formation was a 4-4-2 throughout the match that at times turned into a 4-2-3-1 when on the attack. The centerbacks were Aissatou Tounkara and Mbock Bathy, the fullbacks were Amel Majri on the left and Marion Torrent on the right, the center midfielders were Amandine Henry and Onema Geyoro, the wingers were Eugenie Le Sommer on the left and Viviane Asseyi on the right, and the forwards were Gaetane Thiney and Valerie Gauvin. Gauvin was later replaced by Kadidiatou Diani. Thiney was the more withdrawn of the two forwards, often dropping back deeper to receive the ball.

I will go over the passing stats for each group. Scroll to the bottom to see the complete table.

The Centerbacks

In the U.S. backline, Sullivan’s role was largely spent passing sideways – 56.7% of all her open play pass attempts went sideways, the highest of anyone on the field with at least 10 open play pass attempts. Dahlkemper and Davidson were more forward-minded, with 56.7% and 51.9% of their open play pass attempts going forward, respectively. For the French centerbacks, Tounkara and Mbock’s breakdown of open play pass attempts by direction were similarly more forward-minded, with 53.6% and 63.0% of their open play pass attempts going forward, respectively.

There was a great difference in passes attempted, with the three U.S. centerbacks combining for 181 open play pass attempts, compared to 55 for Tounkara and Mbock, showing just how much time the ball spent going through the U.S. backline during the game.

There was also a great difference in the types of passes attempted. The U.S. centerbacks combined for 23 launched balls and 4 through balls out of open play. No other position group, U.S. or French, got even close to attempting as many launched balls. Dahlkemper even drove forward far enough to attempt a cross. The French centerbacks, however, even with less launched balls and only one through ball attempt, were the ones to get goal out of their efforts – Mbock’s through ball to Le Sommer in the 38th minute led to the score that drew the match for France and registered as a key assist.

The Fullbacks

The U.S. fullbacks were a mixed bag, with O’Hara finishing the match but three different players playing on the other side of the field. O’Hara’s was the more involved, attempting 34 open play passes while the other three combined for 25. O’Hara’s 73.5% completion percentage was the highest of any of the fullbacks with at least 10 pass attempts. The entire group of U.S. fullbacks in open play only amounted to 3 launched ball attempts of which one was completed by Short, 0 through ball attempts, and 3 cross attempts that were all incomplete. Short appeared to have been on her way to an offensive-minded day with 5 of her 8 open play passing attempts going forward until she got injured.

The French fullbacks, meanwhile, were much more present on offense. The two combined for 60 open play pass attempts, one short of the U.S. fullbacks’ 59, but appeared to attempt more on the attack – 63.6% of Majri’s open play pass attempts went forward while it was 74.1% for Torrent – even if their success rate wasn’t as high. Majri competed only 54.5% of her open play pass attempts, while Torrent completed 66.7%. Majri was 1/6 on launched balls, 1/2 on through balls, and 1/5 on crosses. Torrent was 2/6 on launched balls, 0/2 on through balls, and 1/2 on crosses.

The Center Midfielders

The U.S. center midfielders were a similarly mixed bag, and possibly a story of what could have been had McCaskill played for the full 95 minutes. Brian attempted 26 open play passes, the most of any U.S. midfielder, and had a completion percentage of 73.1%, higher than any other U.S. player with at least 10 pass attempts who wasn’t a defender. But McCaskill attempted 20 in just 49 minutes which was on pace for 38.7 passes (let’s say we round it up to 39) in 95 minutes. The biggest knock against McCaskill’s passing numbers is her 65% completion percentage, the third lowest in the game for a U.S. player, likely explained by 65% of her passes going forward, second in the entire game only to Torrent if you exclude the goalkeepers. Horan, who played the entire first half, and Lloyd, who played the last 22 minutes, simply didn’t get off enough open play pass attempts. Between the entire group, they were 1/4 on launched balls and 1/1 on through balls thanks to McCaskill.

The French center midfielders were more involved. Henry attempted 36 open play pass attempts with a completion percentage of 80.6%, while Geyoro attempted 24 passes with a completion percentage of 70.8%. They combined for 5/11 on launched balls and 2/8 on through balls thanks to Henry’s two through ball completions.

The Wingers

The U.S. wingers had the lone goal for their team – a goal by Pugh coming off a chaotic set piece. In the open play, they had a tougher time driving the ball forward. Pugh attempted the most passes, 20, but had a 55% completion percentage, the fourth lowest in the entire game of anyone with at least 10 pass attempts. Williams, who played the entire second half, attempted 13 passes but completed 46.2% of her pass attempts, the lowest in the game. Rapinoe, meanwhile, attempted 10 open play passes and completed 7 of them, but only played the first half. Not a single of the U.S. forward wingers completed a through ball and Press, who only played 18 minutes and attempted 5 open play passes, had the only two completed crosses.

Meanwhile, Le Sommer attempted 30 open play passes and completed 80% of them, higher than any other midfielder in the game with at least 10 pass attempts. Asseyi had less pass attempts, 18, and a lower completion percentage, 72.2%. They each completed one through ball, and Asseyi completed one cross.

The Forwards

Morgan had 17 open play pass attempts, a 70.6% completion percentage, and 52.9% of her pass attempts went forward. That was a higher completion percentage and higher percentage of passes going forward than any of the other U.S. forward wingers. Morgan was 0/1 on launched balls and 1/2 on through balls.

Thiney, meanwhile, had more pass attempts, 29, a lower completion percentage, but appears to have been far more aggressive in driving the ball forward from her withdrawn role. She was 1/2 for launched balls, 3/6 on through balls, and 0/2 on cross attempts. Gauvin, meanwhile, often the lone striker at the top of the French formation, attempted 16 open play passes and racked up a higher completion percentage than Morgan or Thiney, 81.3%, but more of her pass attempts, 43.8%, were going backwards, likely to pass on the ball onto an teammate running towards the goal.

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