On July 11th Atlanta United will be debuting in the MLS is Back Tournament, playing against the New York Red Bulls. Anyway, they will not have their new acquisition available, the Mexican Jürgen Damm, as he will be added to the roster in August when the regular season resumes.
Jürgen Damm, who was linked to teams from La Liga and Serie A before sealing the deal to play for Atlanta United, was playing mainly as a sub for Tigres in the Liga MX in the recent past. Because of that, Damm will have the opportunity to rebirth his career playing in the Major League Soccer, aiming to have a more important role on his new team.
Damm in Atlanta’s most used formations
Since Frank De Boer was hired as Atlanta’s head coach, the teams most used formation is a 3-4-2-1. In that case, Damm will be probably fighting for a spot in the starting lineup as a right-winger. In the few games played in 2020, Brooks Lennon was the habitual starter in that position, like we see below.
This is a formation that is being used a lot against a 4-4-2, in order to put the wingers behind the opposition’s midfield line. From a wide position, Damm could highly impact the attacking phase with his pace and his dribbling ability.
The Mexican is always making runs behind the defensive line, like the one we see above. He also uses to counter-move, seeming to go to support play to then change his direction and run to the open space. A player like Damm should put defenders on a very difficult situation, because full-backs should not also be aware of his position, but also be near him to prevent his runs. At the same time, full-backs would be dealing with Barco or Pity Martínez if they are on the interval between them and the centre-back. If the defence doesn’t adjust quick putting a midfielder in a lower position to match numbers, it is a “choose your own poison” situation. Whoever they jump to, they are freeing another player.
The other formation used by De Boer is the 4-2-3-1, like we see in the image above. This scenario puts Jürgen Damm more as an attacking right or left midfielder than as a full-back. He would fit well along with Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martínez behind a striker, with the best -if available- option being Josef Martínez, who is recovering from a torn ACL and is probably out for the whole season.
Main offensive attributes
In Atlanta’s positional play tactics, Jürgen Damm should be receiving lots of balls in optimal situations to face opponents on 1v1 and take crosses. Centre-backs and central midfielders are good progressing the ball to those five players.
Based on his wide position, his pace and his ability on 1v1 dribbles, the Mexican is a player who can do crosses constantly. Compared to other players from Liga MX in the graph below, Damm is above average in both crosses per 90 (4.85) and crosses to the goalie box per 90 (0.7).
About his dribbling, he was averaging 8.77 dribbles per 90 with 56.3% of successful rate on the current Liga MX for Tigres, which is very good. If we measure his career numbers in this and other offensive attributes, we can see Damm right on the median for the league in most of them, as we can see below.
To conclude his dribbling quality analysis, there are two things that should be mentioned. Damm sometimes takes dribblings while being in numerical disadvantage, like we see below, facing a 1v2. This sometimes can lead him to breakdown a locked defence with an unpredictable move, which is a very valuable thing. At the same time, when forced too much, this can lead to lots of avoidable ball losses and difficult defensive transitions. In the end, everything depends on his decision making.
The other aspect that must be considered is that defenders usually place themselves purposely in a position to prevent the Mexican from going to his right. That makes sense as Damm does not have a strong left foot, which affects his shooting and crossing. Below we can see this clearly.
Potential role in ball progression
Regarding ball progression, Jürgen Damm can be viewed more as a progressive runner than passer. In the graph below, we see how he is above average when it comes to progressive runs per 90 and below league average in progressive passes per 90. That could be explained in some way because of his natural style of play and also because of his decision making, just as with his dribble. His style gives him the pace and dribbling ability, so that joins with the habit of running with the ball, although sometimes maybe the wrong decision.
Fair to Damm, as a winger, he will mostly be waiting wide to receive the ball and run, so the responsibility to link the attacking lines through passes should fall on the centre-backs and central midfielders.
Finishing improvement is required
Basically, a team that has lost its top-scorer with a serious injury that will keep him out for most of the entire season, will need some help from other players to sustain the scoring capacity of the team. Josef Martínez was MLS 2018 top-scorer and third in 2019 season.
Well, in that category Jürgen Damm will have to demonstrate improvements, and that may be the biggest challenge of this step in his career. Damm is above average in touches in the box per 90, while being long below average in shots per 90, we can see in the graph below.
The Mexican would need to shot the ball a bit more to put those numbers up, as he is a player that is frequently moving in or near the box.
As he doesn’t shoot the ball too much when he finishes, he mostly takes crosses or makes a pass, so his assists numbers are good in the totals. However, Damm has the potential to be in a higher rank in that aspect.
In the graph above we see that the Mexican ranks low in both xA per 90 and xG per 90, while in the image below we can see a real game situation which should end with a clear assist because of the passing options. Instead, he stayed with the ball and ended with no shooting angle available and no possible passes. The good thing is that he has everything to be in these positions frequently, so improving his decision making in his new team will lead him to better numbers individually.
Before concluding this tactical analysis, we can see in the graphic below a more global profile of Jürgen Damm’s stats. It stands out that much-needed improvement in both shots per 90 and xG per 90, while on the positive side his crosses, runs, dribbles, touches in the box and assists show he is capable to have an impact in his new team.
After being held as a second-tier player in his last team Tigres, Jürgen Damm has the opportunity to show his talent in Atlanta. This new MLS adventure puts him again in a title contender team, in a league with a game style that he should be benefited.
At 27, his Europe chances may be poor, but if he can establish himself in the MLS having a more important role on a good team, then he could get back on the train.
In this scout report, I described Damm’s game and tried to anticipate how he would fit in Atlanta United. We will have to wait until the MLS is Back Tournament ends to know what Frank De Boer has in his mind regarding his new acquisition.