Weston McKennie in a ‘hybrid role’ – USMNT star Tyler Adams explains Leeds’ tactical experiments

Weston McKennie Tyler Adams
Tyler Adams claims to be “super comfortable” in any system at Leeds, but sees the benefits of asking Weston McKennie to operate in a “hybrid role”.
  • Whites stuck in relegation battle
  • Americans have crucial role to play
  • New systems being tried by Gracia

WHAT HAPPENED? The Whites are still looking anxiously over their shoulder in a Premier League relegation battle, while also slipping out of the FA Cup at the fifth round stage following a disappointing defeat to Fulham. New boss Javi Gracia did, however, experiment at Craven Cottage with a new-look three-man midfield – with USMNT stars Adams and McKennie being asked to deliver both graft and guile in the Leeds engine room.

WHAT THEY SAID: Adams has told BBC West Yorkshire Sports Daily of the tactical tinkering: “With Weston, he was a little bit more of a hybrid role of getting into the box, a little bit more and being more of an attacking player. With Marc [Roca], he obviously offers the defensive stability that we need at a lot of times. For me, I’m super comfortable with whoever you put next to me, especially with the other guys in the team – you throw Brenden [Aaronson] in there, you throw Jack [Harrison] in there, it doesn’t really matter to me. Playing with a three is unique because we all have different qualities, but when we have that versatility it allows us to rotate differently than when we play with an attacking player or just two defensive players.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Adams has also talked up the impact made by Gracia since he inherited the reins at Elland Road on a permanent basis from ousted American coach Jesse Marsch: “Leeds are notorious for winning the ball back quickly and going straight to the goal. But not every time we win the ball do we need to play the first pass forward that we see. Maybe we can keep the ball for two, three passes, switch the ball from side to side and start to tire the opponent. You saw that a little bit more against Southampton. He offers more of a balanced approach to the way that we're going to play. It's not just all out pressing, or all out possession, but a balance.”

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Tyler Adams Leeds 2022-23

Weston McKennie Leeds 2022-23

20230221 Javi Gracia

WHAT NEXT? Leeds, who sit one point clear of the relegation zone in 17th place, will be back in Premier League action on Saturday when taking in a trip to Chelsea.