Case Study: Covering for an overlapping wingback

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Obafemi Martins made an amazing run to prevent a breakaway. He wasn't covering for DeAndre Yedlin; he was recovering his own attempt at greatness.

Much of the debate after the win over Chivas USA is whether Seattle Sounders FC are covering for DeAndre Yedlin's mistaken runs forward. Fans say it (comments on the original ratings post). Coaches and players say it, including Yedlin talking about improving his run timing. It may in fact be happening.

But the most notable moment when it supposedly happened is not an error on Yedlin. Without DeAndre's run Oba doesn't get the ball. With a slightly different pass Yedlin is free on goal. That's not an error on the right back.

Let's look at the gif

Oba-tracks-back-to-cover-yedlin_medium

Neagle to Yedlin to Oba to not-quite-Yedlin to a great 60-yard sprint to prevent Goat goal.

The moment that I think most clearly demonstrates that Yedlin isn't out-of-position is just after Oba's failed pass. You can see ball in space and Yedlin with a lane on the goal. The only problem is that the ball isn't traveling fast and/or high enough to get to the young right back.

Oba_yedlin_so_close_medium

This play may mean something else. It's a sign that effort is expected throughout the roster. DPs need to do little things and sometimes a big thing like a huge run to prevent a goal. Brad Evans talked about it Monday;

"One thing I think of from Saturday was something I hadn't seen in a long time. I think of the Galaxy when the beat us at home and Donovan and Beckham were on the wings and they we were working their tail off up and down the wing. I haven't seen Oba track back like that for DeAndre. We see that on the field when guys are working hard for each other. It's positive stuff moving forward."

Seattle's risky system will have turnovers and typical bands of defense aren't there. Different elements slide over to protect those that are empty.

The razor-edge of awesome can cut at unintended moments.

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