Set-piece analysis: USL Championship attacking corners

One of the things that I wanted to do more in 2021 was to explore more. With exploring I mean looking at leagues that I didn’t look at before, especially leagues that do not figure in Europe. When looking to non-traditional covered leagues, I tend to look at the top tier leagues – but that is changing now. That’s why I’m focussing my next set-piece analysis on North-America, the United States to be precise.

The MLS is the obvious choice to look at, but I wanted to delve deeper into different levels of football in the United States and that’s why I have chosen to look at the USL Championship – the second tier of the closed system in the United States. Because only one matchday has passed, I’m looking at a few interesting corner routines from just a few clubs, to have an idea of what their routines are.

Louisville City FC vs Atlanta United II

In the video above we Louisville City in their game against Atlanta United II. The corner is taken from the left by a right-footed player, which means the ball will swing in rather than swing out. This also means that the ball is more likely to be delivered in the six-yard box and this can be seen by the number of players in and around the six-yard box.

On the left, we have a player close to the corner taker, which is a short pass option in case he wants to progress the ball. Just outside the penalty are we have another player, but he is tasked with the cleared balls and to be the first line of rest-defence in case of a counter-attack by Atlanta United II. In the six-yard box, we see three players: one at the front post near zone, one at the near central zone, and one at the far central zone. Just outside the box we have three players who as a unit will make a run into that specific six-yard box as the ball is being delivered.

As soon as the corner is taken, we have six players going into the six-yard box, but they don’t go into the same direction. We see a 4-2 formation, with the four players going to the front post near zone – which creates space at the central zones. The two players make use of that space and go into that zone, after which the goal is scored.

LA Galaxy II vs Sacramento Republic FC

In the video above we LA Galaxy II in their game against Sacramento Republic. The corner is taken from the right by a left-footed player, which means the ball will swing in rather than swing out. This also means that the ball is more likely to be delivered in the six-yard box. In the example above we saw players assembled in and around the box, but in this example they stay deep in the penalty area, ready to make runs forward.

On the right, we have a player close to the corner taker, which is a short pass option in case he wants to progress the ball. Just outside the penalty are we have another player, but he is tasked with the cleared balls and to be the first line of rest-defence in case of a counter-attack by Atlanta United II. Just outside the penalty there is another player who is going to make a run into the penalty area. Inside the box there is a unit of four player who are going into the six-yard box as soon as the ball is kicked.

Tha ball swings into the six-yard box and we see that unit of four move to the six-yard box as one horizontal line. They go wide a bit, so each players covers a certain zone of the six-yard box. The player on the edge of the penalty area also makes a run into the box to anticipate a ball coming on the penalty spot.

Hartford Athletic vs New York Red Bulls II

In the video above we see Hartford Athletic in their game against New York Red Bulls II. The corner is taken from the left by a right-footed player, which means the ball will swing in rather than swing out. This also means that the ball is more likely to be delivered in the six-yard box.

On the left, we have a player close to the corner taker, which is a short pass option in case he wants to progress the ball. But in this case he drops deep and doesn’t take part in the routine. Just outside the six-yard bord there is a unit of four player who are going into the six-yard box as soon as the ball is kicked to challenge the four player zonal structure by the opposition.

As soon as the ball is kicked, the unit of four breaks into two separate units of two. The left unit goes to the front post near zone, opening up space in the central zones for the other unit. The other unit moves into that space and tries to attack the ball in the central zones.

Oklahoma City Energy FC vs FC Tulsa

In the video above we see OKC in their game against FC Tulsa. The corner is taken from the left by a right-footed player, which means the ball will swing in rather than swing out. This also means that the ball is more likely to be delivered in the six-yard box.

On the left, we have a player close to the corner taker, which is a short pass option in case he wants to progress the ball. Just outside the penalty are we have another player, but he is tasked with the cleared balls and to be the first line of rest-defence in case of a counter-attack by Atlanta United II. In the six-yard box, we see one player: Just outside the six-yard box, we have three players who as a unit will make a run into that specific six-yard box as the ball is being delivered.

As soon as the ball is kicked we see that unit of three break into a 2-1 formation. The two nearest players go to the near post with the other player going into the far post zone. This is possible because the player in the six-yard box blocks the defender and therefore leaves space to run in the far post zone.

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