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The Breakdown: Attacking Midfielders with Kennedy Fuller


Welcome to The Breakdown, where Angel City players break down the basics of the game to help you understand what they do on the pitch. This week, we talked to midfielder Kennedy Fuller about her position, central attacking midfielder, also known as the "Number 10." What is an attacking midfielder’s role on the team?

Kennedy Fuller: As a 10, your biggest responsibilities and main focuses are creating opportunities and big chances for your teammates—feeding balls in behind, combining with your forwards and wingers and then helping in the buildup as best as you can. I think one of my biggest strengths as a 10 is driving at defenders to force them to make a decision. That will open things up and make it an easier decision for me.

ACFC: Can you unpack that last part a little bit? How can dribbling toward the opposing defense open up space?

KF: From what I've been told, a 10—or anyone, honestly—driving at a back line is kind of the scariest thing for a defense. If you have multiple attackers around a back line, you force them to make decisions—whether they want to step [to try to win the ball from you], whether they want to stay [to try to block shots or passes]. If they want to stay, then there's numerous different outcomes that can happen, but one of the biggest ones is shooting. As a 10, you have to be able to finish and shoot. You can also keep dribbling [to try to beat them one on one].

If they step, they can open up pockets in between themselves, and then you can try to find the final pass [to a forward].

ACFC: What qualities does a good attacking midfielder have?

KF: I think the biggest thing is creativity. As a 10 you can really do whatever you want with the ball, and you have to have an open mind with everything you're able to do.

You also have to be creative off the ball.I think being able to make runs for teammates in behind or showing up in the pocket [the space between the opposing midfield and defense], with really good timing. Then you're able to get the ball and drive at the defenders. So creativity, open mindedness and a willingness to attack—your first thought should be, “I want to score a goal.”

I also think being willing and able to press the other team. So working with your teammates around you to have the right spaces open and mark [your opponent] as well as possible.

ACFC: What’s the No. 10’s relationship with the other positions in the midfield?

KF: We play with one 10 and two sixes [defensive midfielders]. So I think the biggest thing is finding spaces to be an outlet for the sixes. It’s the same with the center backs and outside backs—you’re finding ways to get on the ball as much as possible to relieve the pressure on them. Another thing is knowing my distance of pressing. So if I'm 10 yards away from the opposing center back, that's probably a good indication that I'm going to press that defender, and the midfielder behind me needs to step. Those relationships are super important on both ends.

ACFC: Talk about what it means to be physically in the center of the field—as opposed to a wide player, who plays closer to one of the sidelines.

KF: I think as a winger, you’re always kind of double teamed with the sideline and the defender—it limits which directions you can go and also where pressure can come from. In the central midfield, it’s super important to be checking your shoulder and knowing what's around you, because things change in a split second. Knowing where your opponents are, where you are, where the spaces are, where your teammates are, is super important at all times—so just always being aware of your surroundings and everything that you're having to deal with.

ACFC: What do you need from the players around you to be successful?

KF: I think the biggest thing is confidence. When Alyssa and Claire are extra confident in themselves and in me, that's when we play the best. So I think being confident and being on the same page is super important.

I also think playing really specific. I think my teammates being very decisive on their runs, whether they want the ball to their feet, whether they want it in behind, whether they want a softer pass or harder pass, being very specific and decisive with how they want the ball is super helpful.