Home > Confederations Cup 2009, Scouting Opponents, Tournament Statistics > Open Note to U.S. Team: Pass More Often

Open Note to U.S. Team: Pass More Often

The U.S. team has a weird relationship with passing:  inside the penalty box several players look to pass rather than shoot, but outside the box the team is in too much of a hurry to slow things down with an extra pass.

Among the four teams remaining, the U.S. has completed the fewest passes by far:  897.  To give you a sense of how low that is, South Africa has completed 567 more passes than the U.S. and they’re in third among the remaining teams.

As noted in a prior post, although South Africa possessed the ball longer than the U.S. did, Brazil approached the match similarly to its group-stage victory over the U.S.  And Brazil wasn’t forced out of the midfield by South Africa (like the U.S. did to Spain).  But where South Africa lost late (1-0), the U.S. lost big (3-0).

In reviewing the match stats, it appears that at least part of South Africa’s success was the result of its passing.  In the U.S. match against Brazil, we attempted 327 passes and completed only 204 (62%).  But Brazil attempted 498 and completed 377 (76%).  When your opponent completes 50 more passes than you attempt, your only hopes are dumb luck or superhuman passing accuracy.  (Neither of which the U.S. has.)

While it couldn’t match Brazil, South Africa did not let itself be thoroughly overmatched.  It completed 354 of 458 passes (77%) and Brazil did a little better:  completing 409 of 515 passes (78%).

It would not be fair to chalk the U.S. victory over Spain to luck.  But the U.S. was terribly overmatched in terms of passing:  Spain’s 680 attempts and 528 completions (78%) dwarfed the U.S.’s 371 attempts and 203 completions (55%).

If Brazil outpasses the U.S. by over 170 completed passes (let alone 325 as Spain did), the U.S. is going to be in for a long night.

As an aside, it also would not hurt to try and earn more corner kicks:  the 8 earned by the U.S. is last in the entire tournament.  (Brazil has earned 22.)


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