Which MLS players apply the most on-field pressure? Young midfielders top the list

Every team needs ball-winners in midfield, and several young Americans were near the league’s peak in 2019 in terms of pressures per 90 minutes.

FC Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya leads the way, reflecting why he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2019 SuperDraft. The top group also has Philadelphia Union midfielder and US men’s national team debutant Brenden Aaronson, plus Colorado Rapids prospect Cole Bassett.

The upper echelon also boasts several veterans whose roles sometimes may get overlooked. Scott Caldwell of the New England Revolution and Judson of the San Jose Earthquakes are both in the top tier, as is Montreal Impact striker Maxi Urruti. Caldwell and Judson often play in deep-lying and disruptive roles, while Urruti’s hassling occurs as the first line of defense.

Those applying the most pressure do it in a variety of ways, too. Some do ample work in the attacking third, while others such as Minnesota United duo Jacori Hayes and Hassani Dotson thrive in the defensive third. The vast majority log pressures in the middle third, though, reflecting the importance of 50-50 challenges and winning second balls.

Either way, pressures help teams use turnovers to create quick offense. These players don’t always grab the headlines, but their roles are vital.

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