Alan Pulido is a centre forward who is arriving to the MLS after he achieved the top goalscorer title in the Liga Mx playing for Guadalajara (12 goals). Not only did he win individual titles, but he also won the championship with the two teams he played for in the Liga MX (Tigres and Guadalajara), winning a CONCACAF international title and another championship with the Greek team Olympiacos, in which he scored six goals in 17 games. He has been called to the Mexican U20, U23 and senior team where he has played 13 matches and scoring five times.
For this scout report, we will analyze Pulido’s features that make him an interesting MLS player. Since he has been signed by Sporting Kansas City, we’ll try to show why he was chosen to reinforce the offensive lineup of the Midwest team.
One of his feature skills is to play behind another centre forward or play on either side of the rival’s field. This feature makes him a difficult player to keep on check for the rival’s defence as will see in the next analysis.
This heat map illustration shows the areas where he likes to play. Both wings, near the sideline, is the area where he likes to get the ball, then moving to the box where he strikes. He also plays the centre of the field and later we will analyze this move.
Pulido is not known for being a very skilful player, if we compare his statistics with his compatriot Carlos Vela who participated in two of the most important leagues in the world as the premier league with the Arsenal and in La Liga where he had his best moments with Real Sociedad in addition to being the current champion of goals in the MLS, we see that in the area of duels won, Pulido has a 37% effectiveness and Vela has an effectiveness of 42.6%, however, Pulido’s physical strength gives him an advantage when facing central defenders in short spaces as we will see later.
First, while playing for Guadalajara in the Liga MX, we observe Pulido leaning on the left side to get the ball in an open space with no defenders near.
When Pulido faces a central defender, he takes advantage of his power and ability to play with both feet. This makes it impossible for the opposing defender to know which side he will be attacked from, causing him to lose sight of the ball for a second, a situation that Pulido takes advantage of to gain a couple of meters and find space to define.
Pulido has an average of 4.6 dribbles every 90 minutes of which he succeeds in 50.6%. These are not such impressive numbers, however, he is a daring player who understands where the pitch is relevant to perform a dribble.
The image under, we observe Pulido receiving the ball again in the left side.
To exemplify the above, in the following image we observe Pulido understanding that inside the area it will be complicated for the defenders to confront him because of the risk of committing a foul. He faces right but at the last moment, he makes a change in direction and overflows on his left side, leaving the two defenders out of action and in a clear position to assist a teammate.
Perhaps his most important skill is his shooting. When inside the box, he commands time and space, showing some sort of relaxation when he strikes. Knowing where the goal is at all times, he controls the ball, then turn around in either direction and shoots to the goal.
Pulido has some very interesting facts in his career as a striker. To understand this a little better we will mention that, the last top goalscorer in the MLS (Carlos Vela) has a percentage of shots on target of 42.8 and an xG of 0.38, that if we compare it with the numbers of Pulido that are of 47.2 in achieved shots and an xG of 0.39, we will be able to understand because he usually finds rival’s goal with ease.
When he plays for Mexico’s national team, his numbers are very good; scoring five goals in 505 minutes and 0.40 goals per match when he played in the Liga MX.
He has had a great start-up with the Sporting Kansas City, scoring in two matches (one goal per game) and one assistance.
As we observe, Pulido likes to attack from any position in the final third (see the next image).
During his second match with the Wizards, we see Pulido leaning over the left side and paying attention to his teammate anticipating he will pass the ball to the box. Pulido starts to sprint to his right side while rival’s defender keeps running toward his goal.
The defender now is not having any chance to intercept the ball, then Pulido strikes and shoots to the second post, away from both, the defender and the goalkeeper.
In the image below, Pulido gets the ball at the left side, then dribbling to the centre and finding a spot to shoot to the goal.
Here, we observe Pulido’s ability and patience to control the ball near the box surrounded by three opponents. As we mentioned before, he is a player who can create space for himself to shoot at the goal.
As mentioned before in this tactical analysis, his great mobility in the final third makes him hard to keep in check plus his skills to shoot in any position, both skills could make him a potential MLS star.
Playing for his former club Guadalajara in the Liga MX, we observe Pulido playing on the right side. He moves to the open space so he gets the ball into the box and with just one dribble and full control of the ball, he’s ready to strike.
As we had mentioned, it has great mobility and has the capacity to find that gap in the defensive line. In a couple of moves, Pulido receives the ball and shoots so easily that he surprises the rival goalkeeper.
Assisting to generate offensive plays
Pulido makes an important contribution to his team’s tactics because of his ability to strike, as well as contribute to generating offensive plays.
He understands the game. Either playing as a “solo” centre forward or in a 4-4-2 lineup as a secondary forward, he will find the time and space to get the ball and pass it to his teammates. That’s the reason why he was positioned as a midfielder when he played for Tigres and Guadalajara in the Liga MX.
In the following sequence of images, we observe Pulido’s ability to create opportunities for his teammates. Pulido is a very smart player, receiving the ball at the front of the attack and starts to check-in for his teammate, with great intelligence of the ball waiting for the opportune time to pass the ball between the rival defenders.
His knowledge of the wing position is key so he knows how to find open spaces and take advantage.
His new coach Peter Vermes has used the 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 formation in his last two matches. In both matches, Juan has been the nominal centre forward. And he has shown his ability to create opportunities for his team, his accurate timing to pass the ball to his teammates then moving to become the third man.
In the next image, we see Pulido getting the ball as a centre forward and waiting for his teammate to arrive into the box with an advantage over rival’s defender.
Once his teammate has taken a clear advantage over the defender, Pulido pass the ball and his teammate is ready to strike.
Weak aerial play
This is a weak spot in his game. Even though he has scored some headers, he needs to improve his air prowess. The MLS is a league that plays the ball in the air a lot!.
His 27.2% of winning air duels is low. He doesn’t enjoy to clash with rivals, then he isn’t even competing for the balls in the air.
In the next image, playing for the Sporting Kansas City, Pulido tries to make the rival to fail his fielding of the ball (instead of fighting for it), but the ball is intercepted by the rival anyway.
He’s 5’10” is not going to be a factor in the MLS, though he must learn how to dispute the ball in the air.
During his second match, he faced this situation several times and the result was always the same.
Here, we observe Pulido fighting for the ball against a rival defender shorter than him, but the defender shows more intensity and timing to win the ball.
Pulido is just starting his jumps when the rival has already made contact with the ball.
Pulido has proven throughout this analysis, we are facing a potential MLS star. His skills to move into the box, find rival’s goal and shooting in any position are going to help him in a highly physical league.
After two matches, he has perfectly fitted into the lineups his new coach likes to play; his great mobility is a key element so he can find the spaces or passing the ball to his teammates just in time.
Definitively he’s an important addition to the Wizards’ lineup. Avoiding to send Pulido to fight for air balls and instead, long passing balls to him will yield better results.