This week, Sporting Kansas City paid a blockbuster transfer fee to acquire the mythical Designated Player #9 the team (and fans) have been craving. But many of us don’t watch enough Liga MX and don’t know a lot about Alan Pulido. We got with a friend Rigo Ayala from FMF State of Mind (the SB Nation Mexican soccer site) and Chivas Del Norte to learn a little more about Pulido. We ask him six questions below. Be sure to follow Rigo on Twitter.
The Blue Testament: How would you describe Alan Pulido’s style of play?
Rigo Ayala: At this point in his career, he’s not an out and out prototypical “9” although he wears that number, he is more of a CAM/CF hybrid, with tremendous work rate. Drops down below midfield to recover balls, excellent first touch, great kick from outside the box and the ability to create space for himself with the ball allows him to be a pivotal point of the offense.
TBT: What system or systems did Chivas play? Was Pulido always the striker or did he play in other roles?
RA: While Pulido has been with the team, his time as out and out striker hasn’t been much. The team has employed 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 systems. In the 4-3-3 the team used a staggered midfield and he would either be the striker when the team would have injuries at the position or the CAM sitting behind the striker and helping create plays. This CAM role has been his primary roll I’d say since the 2017 championship season.
TBT: Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes demands a high defensive work rate from all players, including forwards. Is that a trait he possesses? Do you think Pulido would be willing to do this?
RA: Like I mentioned earlier, Pulido has a high defensive work rate, dropping back to his own box to defend and recover possession if he has to. I think in that aspect I don’t think KC will have an issue with him.
TBT: Do you see Pulido’s rate of goal scoring increasing in MLS?
RA: It’s certainly a possibility. While Pulido was the golden boot winner in league MX, I don’t think it’s something that was expected of him, like I mentioned earlier his role changed and he created a lot for his teammates, that being said he is an excellent finisher and with MLS defending being at a slightly lower level than LigaMX I can definitely see an uptick in his scoring.
TBT: Pulido will be the biggest star on Kansas City. Has he been ‘the man’ on a team before? How do you think he’ll take to that role and that pressure in KC?
RA: He was the man on the biggest club in North America, scored goals in the championship final in 2017 and scored goals in finals against Toronto in the CONCACAF Champions League, I don’t think that role will be any different.
TBT: Alan Pulido has a big personality off the field. How have his teammates dealt with that in the past? Does it affect the team in obvious ways?
RA: I think Pulido gets a bad reputation from Mexican media for his personal behavior but I don’t think it has affected his reputation with his teammates. Chivas’ issues in recent years have not been due to him in any way but rather a mismanagement of the roster by ownership and even with the lack of talent on the team, Pulido’s effort on the pitch was always noticed.
TBT: Thanks so much Rigo for the time!
There is a lot of information to unpack here. Peter Vermes has said that Pulido is definitely a striker in Sporting KC’s 4-3-3 system. However, it sounds like he’s not spent a lot of time doing just that for Chivas Guadalajara. Is it time for a new formation from the team known to play some version of the 4-3-3? The team has two strikers — Khiry Shelton and Erik Hurtado — known for their hold-up play that may allow Pulido to play underneath them.
That then pushes a midfielder — Gianluca Busio, Roger Espinoza (or even Ilie Sanchez if Felipe Gutierrez is playing deep) — out of the lineup (assuming a 4-3-3). While Vermes said Pulido is a striker, he also said “he’ll be in the middle of the park” which could technically be midfield.
That would certainly tend to put more weight on the rumor for Richmond Boakye coming to play CF for SKC. Just yesterday that felt like a leftover rumor that leaked a little too later. Give us your thoughts in the comments.