2022 World Cup: USA's 'MMA' midfield of Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams gives blueprint for success

The United States are through to the last 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after a 1-0 success over Iran on Tuesday. It was another match that included a hard-nosed, gritty efficiency from the midfield system of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah. 

Dubbed the “MMA” midfield after their names, this group has the abilities to beat you with power, design and guile, just like combined martial arts. They even revealed their adaptability by playing in their 3rd various setup of the World Cup in just 3 video games.

A 4-3-3 was set up in the 1-1 draw to Wales, with Musah left wing, Adams as a protective midfielder in the center and McKennie on the right. Musah and Adams integrated to form a double pivot in a 4-4-2, with McKennie functioning as an ideal winger rather of a conventional main midfielder in the scoreless draw to England. On Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Iran, they changed back to the 4-3-3, however McKennie and Musah switched sides to open the defense. 

While most strong midfields have gamers who are strong in one of 2 various functions, what makes the USMNT midfield efficient is that these gamers can presume various functions when they drive forward.

Gregg Berhalter gets a great deal of space for mistake due to how great the midfield is, both defensively and in ownership, and it’s a location of the group that is set for several years to come. The earliest of the trio, McKennie, is just 24. There will be minor issues if McKennie is not able to go more than 70 minutes versus the Netherlands on Saturday, Dec. 3. He has actually played beyond the 66th minute simply as soon as in the group phase. That stated, as long as the group capitalizes when he’s on the pitch once again, like his participation in Christian Pulisic’s objective versus Iran with Adams leading the defense when he goes off the pitch, things will be great versus the Netherlands. 

Listen listed below and follow In Soccer We Trust: A CBS Sports Soccer Podcast where your 3 preferred previous USMNT gamers cover whatever you might perhaps would like to know about the United States guys’s nationwide group throughout the World Cup in Qatar.

On his 20th birthday, Musah stepped up in a huge method, finishing 44 of 49 passes and taking 2 shots. He plays the video game on the edge, and sometimes you do not understand if he’s going to win the group the video game or lose it, however that unforeseeable nature lines up well with maximizing area for McKennie and the attack. They have actually had the ability to have fun with liberty since the captain of the group, Adams, lags them prepared to tidy up whatever.

But do not let Adams’ protective positioning fool you, he can press the ball up the pitch also. Musah is leading the group in passes finished in the last 3rd throughout the World Cup with 36. He’s ahead of Pulisic (32), McKennie (31), Weah (31) and Adams (30). It reveals simply just how much the midfield is interchanging with the assaulting gamers to make the group tick even without an appropriate striker. Almost one third of Musah’s overall passes are can be found in the last 3rd. That’s since he’s been enabled to run in sophisticated positions regularly to keep Pulisic associated with the match and develop security valves so the group can’t get boxed in by the defenses that they have actually dealt with up until now.

It’s a big reason no matter which group they have actually played, the USMNT have actually had the ability to develop strong assaulting possibilities throughout the very first halves of matches. And getting much deeper into the World Cup, their physical fitness levels must continue to increase to keep the strength up for the start of 2nd halves. With the youth of the group, the midfield might be secured for practically the next years, providing Berhalter lots of factors to be delighted about their capacity.

They’ll requirement Pulsic healthy to take advantage of the possibilities produced, however it would not be a surprise to see the group present their 4th various midfield setup to stay up to date with the Netherlands on Saturday. Louis van Gaal’s side has actually currently revealed that it can cave to pushing sides in its draw to Ecuador. Berhalter will make sure to have his group prepared to fire out of eviction. The are having fun with home cash in the round of 16 and this young group is here to go far on their own. They’re doing simply that and after that some while strengthening the core for the 2026 World Cup on house soil.

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