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Grade Performance Average of the USA National Team during game 3 of the World Cup: USA vs Iran

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Jesús Rico-Sanz, PhD

Soccer Performance & Science Institute


 

In previous articles, I reported the Grade Performance Average (GPA) of the USA National Team during games 1 and 2 of the World Cup 2022 against Wales and England , respectively (www.soccerpsi.com/blog). In this article, I will be covering the analysis of the game against Iran; a game USA had to win in order to move to the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar.


TECHNICAL ACTIONS


During the game against Iran, the players had 911 technical actions in the attack, a value between the game against Wales (1,105) and England (822). The average percent accuracy for all technical actions was 88% (90% against Wales, 89% against England). One of the central defenders, Ream, had the largest number of technical actions while attacking (116) followed by the defensive midfielder Adams (115). They were followed by the right back, Dest, with 98 actions, and the right central defender, Carter-V, with 95 actions. The total number of attacking actions for the defensive field players including the starters (Dest, Carter-V, Ream, A. Robinson, Adams) and substitutes (Acosta, Moore, and Zimmerman) was 512, compared to 366 technical actions for the more attacking players (the starters McKennie, Musah, Weah, Sargent, Pulisic; and substitutes Aaronson and Wright). Thus, the defensive players had 1.40 times more technical actions which is below the ratio against Wales (1.60) and England (1.50). However, although the ratio of technical actions for defensive and offensive players decreased further against Iran, the value still represents a conservative style when the defensive players have 40% more contact with the ball than the attacking players.


The total number of attempted defending actions for all players participating in the game was 154 (35 blocked passes and blocked dribbles, 50 clearances and defensive headers, and 69 interceptions). The center defensive midfielder Adams had the highest number of defending actions with 26, followed by the two central defenders Carter-V and Ream, both with 19 actions. The percentage success on the defending interventions was 81%, compared to 91% against Wales and 89% against England.


In addition to the starting eleven, Aaronson's total number of attacking and defending actions is also included as he came in to play the entire second half substituting Pulisic who played only the first half.



Total number of attacking and defending technical actions by the starters of the USA National Team in game 3 against Iran during the World Cup 2022. Also included is Aaronson who substituted Pulisic at half time.
Total number of attacking and defending technical actions by the starters of the USA National Team in game 3 against Iran during the World Cup 2022. Also included is Aaronson who substituted Pulisic at half time.

In the game against Iran, the USA team had 11 scoring attempts, 5 of which were on target; 4 were saved by the goalkeeper, and the other was the goal scored by Pulisic in the first half. The game ended with a 1-0 victory for USA. The goal was preceded by a series of passes which are shown below.


The pass from McKennie was a top class pass to the inside of the Iranian penalty box. It was a difficult technical action because he had to let the ball go across his body to be able to hit the ball with a backward spin pass (image below). The ball was placed behind the defensive line of the Iranian team to a space where Dest would find the ball ahead of him in his run upfield. This pass from McKennie was outstanding in vision, level of difficulty, and precision since it eliminated the entire defensive line and the goalkeeper. In the picture, Pulisic can be seen initiating his run towards the penalty box.


McKennie pass setting up the assist during the game against Iran during the World Cup 2022
McKennie pass setting up the assist during the game against Iran during the World Cup 2022

As Dest was attacking the right side of the 6-yd box, he still had a lot to do to provide the assist with his head. Dest was running diagonal to the goal and had to get behind the ball to head it just parallel to the goal line. It was a brilliant header eliminating defenders and the goalkeeper as well. Thus, any teammate arriving across the goal would be able to get a chance on goal. By this time Pulisic was near the penalty spot already (image below).


Header assist by Dest to set up Pulisic for the winning goal against Iran in game 3 of the World Cup 2022
Header assist by Dest to set up Pulisic for the winning goal against Iran in game 3 of the World Cup 2022

Lastly, Pulisic's inside of the foot side volley was not an easy technique to execute, as he had to time the flight of the ball, while he had pressure from the Iranian defenders around him and he could see that a potential collision with the goalkeeper could occur. His brave decision focusing on the task of hitting the ball on target and into the back of the net knowing that a collision was imminent paid off as he scored the only goal of the game.


Pulisic side volley with the inside of the right foot to score the winning goal against Iran in game 3 of the World Cup 2022
Pulisic side volley with the inside of the right foot to score the winning goal against Iran in game 3 of the World Cup 2022

The speed at which Pulisic came to the ball on a straight line towards the middle of the goal and goalkeeper could not prevent the impact with the Iranian number one (see below). On executing his technical action, the collision with the goalkeeper resulted on an injury that took him off the field temporarily. Eventually at half time he was substituted to prevent the injury from getting worse.


Moment when Pulisic collides frontally with the Iranian goalkeeper after scoring in game 3 of the World Cup 2022
Moment when Pulisic collides frontally with the Iranian goalkeeper after scoring in game 3 of the World Cup 2022

So the statistics for Pulisic are for just one half of the game. Although in the previous analysis I presented the statistics of only the starting eleven, in this article I include the statistics of his substitute (Aaronson) since he played one half of the game as Pulisic.


PERCENT ACCURACY VS GPA OF ATTACKING TECHNICAL ACTIONS


The team percent accuracy for attacking actions during the game against Iran was 88%, slightly below the percent accuracy against Wales (90%) and England (89%). All attacking players and the outside backs had percent accuracy values below the team average. Only Turner, the goalkeeper, the two center backs Carter-V and Ream, and Adams, the defensive midfielder, had a percent accuracy in attacking technical actions that was above the team average.


The team average GPA for attacking actions was 1.34, which was similar to the game against England (Team Technical Attacking GPA=1.33). All attacking players (attacking midfielders and forwards), with the exception of Weah, had an attacking GPA above the team average (see graph below). The contribution from Turner, the goalkeeper, to the attacking actions GPA was very positive; his attacking technical GPA was 1.67.


Attacking actions GPA vs accuracy for the USA starting eleven and substitute Aaronson who played the second half during the game against Iran in the World Cup 2022
Attacking actions GPA vs accuracy for the USA starting eleven and substitute Aaronson who played the second half during the game against Iran in the World Cup 2022

MATCH TECHNICAL GPA BY POSITION


The average match GPA for the USA team was 1.49, which includes the grades for attacking and defending technical actions during the game.The match GPA against Iran was slightly lower than the GPA against England (1.53), but higher than the match GPA in the first game against Wales (1.39). For the defensive line, the best match GPA was obtained by Dest with a GPA of 1.44. All three starting midfielders performed similarly with regards to the match technical actions, with GPAs of 1.55 (Adams) and 1.58 (Musah and McKennie). For the forward line, Pulisic (in the first half) and Aaronson in the second half, obtained the best GPAs; 1.79 and 1.85, respectively. These GPA values were the highest of the team as well.


Average match GPA for each of the starting players (Gk in yellow, field players in blue), and the substitute Aaronson (in red) who played a full half of the game for Pulisic on game 3 of the World Cup 2022 against Iran.
Average match GPA for each of the starting players (Gk in yellow, field players in blue), and the substitute Aaronson (in red) who played a full half of the game for Pulisic on game 3 of the World Cup 2022 against Iran.

Based on the match GPA, the top 5 technical performances were from the following players:

Aaronson, GPA = 1.85

Pulisic, GPA = 1.79

Turner, GPA = 1.71

McKennie, GPA = 1.58

Musah, GPA = 1.58


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