With a new identity led by Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner, Philadelphia Union's high press and quick attack has propelled the team into the top spot of the Eastern Conference. The change in system has not only led to nine wins and 31 points but made the Union of the top pressing teams in the league according to Opta.
At the halfway point of the 2019 Major League Soccer season, the Union are ranked third in the average number of possessions that start in the attacking third of the pitch. While your traditional high pressing teams are just above the Boys in Blue, the ability to take on the additional running and style needed for the new system has been done with mainly the same pieces from the 2018 squad. So far this season, the Union's high press starts an attack in their opponent's third of the pitch over nine times a match, well 9.18 possessions to be exact.
In a system that requires all 11 players to be in sync, midfielder Jamiro Monteiro leads the Union presses with an average of 1.42 possessions won individually in the attacking third of the pitch. With an ever-shifting diamond midfield that looks to win possession back to set up yet another attack, Monteiro is one of the field players putting in a tackle to start an attack or have a go from distance to set up even more chances.