This tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report will look at Lewis Morgan’s key traits. This piece provides an analysis of Morgan’s attacking, defensive and transition abilities along with strengths and weaknesses.
Capped at International level for Scotland, Lewis Morgan arrived at MLS side Inter Miami from Celtic where he failed to make enough of an impression. He was signed for Celtic in January 2018 but was loaned back for the remainder of the season as part of the deal. There he helped St Mirren win the Scottish Championship and get promoted back to the Scottish Premier League. In his time at St Mirren he made 94 appearances, scoring 21 goals.
At former Manchester United midfielder David Beckham’s Inter Miami, Morgan will play in a wide forward role to supply the lone striker, Robbie Robinson, with opportunities as well as be a goal threat himself, especially from outside the box. As you can see below in his heat map from the opening two games, most of his contributions have come from the right wing area and outside of the box. The second game against DC United saw a change of tactics with Morgan coming inside slightly more with the change of system in deeper areas to link play.
Since the start of the Scottish season, Lewis Morgan has played 18 times for Celtic and twice for Inter Miami. He averages 2.8 dribbles per game with an average success rate of 43%. For Inter Miami, Morgan attempted one dribble against LA Galaxy which was successful. At DC United, eight dribbles were attempted with a success rate of 38%. For comparison of a player in a similar position to Morgan, Florian Valot of NYRB attempted six per game with a success rate of 67%. This was the highest in their position over the opening two games.
Morgan creates 1v1 attacks in possession whenever possible. Unfortunately, his end product is let down by his narrow view of what is happening around him. His head goes down and he is focused on the ball and the player closest. Whenever he is successful and makes space for a cross he is then just chipping into areas. There is a need to identify teammates positions and the best type of cross for the situation. Here he draws in the defender and uses a step over to fake cutting inside. He takes the ball onto his right foot down the line rather than left. Morgan looks up and delivers a good cross seeing a 1v1 opportunity at the back post.
He is strong on the ball and will look to protect it and run with it. In the following image he is up against a defender who is trying to force him wide, he has another defender catching him from behind. He ends up running through the defender in front, bouncing off of him. Then he rides the challenge of the recovering defender before carrying the ball towards the box.
His protection of the ball has been good. It must be taken into account that this is a new team learning to play together. Morgan’s movement with the ball can often result in him running up field and being crowded out by defenders. In these cases, he tries to keep possession and pass backwards to recycle the ball and restart the attack.
As a technically proficient player with both feet, Morgan is able to shoot with either foot and has shown the ability to generate good power over his career. He had an opportunity from outside the box against LAFC, cutting in well from the right and shooting from the edge of the box with his left foot. He shows how he can create space and move the ball away from defenders to make space to shoot with his confidence on both feet.
As stated before, in the opening game LAFC some of the play was very direct. Furthermore, when able to contribute to the attack his crossing was not accurate enough. He attempted 9 crosses in this match with a success percentage of 25%. Against DC United he had 5 crosses with a 25% success rate again. He did provide the goal, getting to the by-line inside the penalty box and crossing between two defenders to reach Pizarro to score. Morgan delivered the most crosses of any player in the opening two games. Delivering 14 with a 29% success rate. Second was Sam Nicholson of Colorado Rapids. He crossed 13 times with a success rate of 31%.
The below image shows his delivery from a free kick on the right-hand side for Inter Miami. The highlighted area shows the target area for the Inter Miami players to attack. The white spot indicates where the ball bounced before being cleared.
For Inter Miami, Morgan has averaged 12 challenges per match and has worked hard for the side in both halves of the pitch. Pizarro, his teammate, has been involved in an average of 16 challenges per match. Morgan shows discipline to get in position and block passing lanes as well as press and hurry opponents on the ball. We can see below as a ball is cleared into space with a number of players looking to gain possession, Morgan is the first one there, showing strong determination to regain possession for his side. In this instance, he wins back the ball and passes to back to a defender to restart an attack.
He can position himself well out of possession in order to block off passing lanes and slow down attacks. He has made four successful interceptions for Inter Miami with his awareness of his team mate’s position and opponents. For context, Pizarro and Pellegrini have one each in a similar position. Below the left-sided defender is making a run forward; Morgan is aware the Inter Miami right-back will be able to mark this player when he comes forward. As the player on the ball looks to play the ball between Morgan and Ulloa (CM), Morgan is able to block the pass and regain possession. This showed good understanding and communication in the inaugural game for Inter Miami and some strong defensive organisation.
The desire to work hard for his side is one of the reasons he was brought to Miami from Celtic. We can see here while at Celtic in the 2019/20 season he supports a teammate who has lost a challenge while a defender looks to carry the ball out of defence. Morgan is quick to react and works back to challenge, win possession and restart and attack, creating an opportunity to cross into the box.
Lewis Morgan is a fit and strong player and is able to contribute well to a pressing side and shows a desire to win back the ball for his side. Over the past ten competitive games, Morgan involved in an average of 13 challenges per game, however with a success rate of only 32%, although this varies a lot over different matches. Furthermore, he has been much more successful since joining Inter Miami with 57% and 44% success rate against LAFC and DC United respectively.
In an attacking transition, Morgan looks to create quick, direct counter-attacks. He is capable of carrying the ball forward well at pace. Below we can see Morgan has seen a pressing trigger. The Inter Miami player forces the DC United attacker away from goal under pressure. Morgan sees he can leave his man and create a 2v1 overload on the player in possession. Here he wins the ball before the DC United player can pass and is able to start an immediate counter-attack. He has timed his challenge well which has given his side the opportunity to attack.
He shows an alertness during pressing, where he can make the most of lost balls or misplaced passes. While a goal behind at DC United, Morgan is able to gain possession of the ball after a challenge in the middle of the pitch. Immediately Morgan looks to attack and puts the defence under pressure in a 1v1 attack. He is able to get past the defender and shoot right-footed with power against the side netting.
Morgan has registered three ball recoveries over his two games. He has shown a strong desire to regain possession as well as provide defensive protection. The following image shows a cross where the ball has come loose at the back post. Once again Morgan shows a desire to get there first and clears the ball to safety on this occasion and allows his side to reorganise defensively.
30 seconds into Inter Miami’s first match he showed his positional awareness after his side lost possession. He sees the LAFC player in possession under pressure from Ulloa and looks to apply pressure. He continues to ensure he remains blocking off the passing lane out to the LAFC left-back. Inter Miami press well here and the LAFC player has no passing options.
Morgan’s crossing has had mixed successes in both games. Despite this he has been capable of beating defenders and making space for crosses. In fact, his ability with both feet makes it difficult for defenders with the unpredictability it brings.
His combination play has been good when moving into more central areas. He had more freedom to move with a system change against DC United. Morgan and Pizarro played behind Robinson in a 3-4-2-1 formation. In this game he made more passes than against LAFC 45-35. He also managed a higher completion percentage (73% to previous 60%). Also, Morgan made more Key Passes, 3 with a 100% completion rate.
This system seemed to favour Morgan. Playing in a strict wide role isolated Morgan too much in the first match. With more freedom of movement he was able to combine well with players around him and affect the game more positively.
Here he shows he can receive under pressure and keep hold of the ball. He receives from a throw-in and protects the ball under pressure. With his back to the rest of play he is able to get his head up and see where there is space to move into. He also becomes aware of where his teammates are around him. He is able to see Trapp in space in the centre of the pitch and plays a safe, sensible pass.
As the play continues he brings his marker inside. This leaves more space for the right wing-back Nealis. Trapp has the option to pass back out right and have Nealis deliver the cross into the box.
His directness while running can also be a weakness at times due to the lack of awareness of his surroundings. At times he gets his head down and is not aware of his teammate’s movements as well as the opponents. Here he has received the ball and immediately turned without scanning and checking who was behind him. The DC United player immediately tackles Morgan who was unaware of his position.
The type of cross delivered at times has been too weak or the wrong one for the movement of the players in the box. Above all, this is down to his awareness of other movements while he is running with the ball. Better awareness and decision making can improve the 25% cross success rate. He has shown his abilities to get into crossing positions and has, at times, delivered dangerous crosses into the box. Below is Robinson is in a good position in the box and needs a low fast cross but Morgan chooses to chip the ball across. Without enough power, Jakovic (5) for LAFC to head clear to a teammate and build an attack.
To conclude this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report; Lewis Morgan has shown his versatility over the two games. He has played wide and in a more flexible attacking system. Morgan is a strong and direct runner with the ball as well as being capable of combining well with teammates. His end product needs work to make him a real threat in the final third for Inter Miami.
Inter Miami changed tactics and system for the DC United game. Morgan kept his place in the side over Designated Player Matias Pellegrini, who was on the bench. He must continue improving to show this was the right decision from his manager should they continue in this way.