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Anatomy of a Goal: Ola Kamara finishes off a team effort

This week we look at Kamara’s 66th minute game-winner.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Anatomy of a Goal, where each week we dissect one goal (or near goal) from Columbus Crew SC‘s previous match.

For match 33 of the 2017 MLS Season, we take a look at Ola Kamara’s 66th minute tap-in goal that put Crew SC on top as part of the 1-0 win over Orlando City SC on Sunday.

Here’s a look at the finish from Columbus’s striker.

Entering the match on an eight-game unbeaten streak, the Black & Gold played the Lions to an even first half. A give-and-go between Justin Meram and Kamara nearly put Crew SC up 1-0 early, but Columbus’ own lion sent the ball just wide of the goal.

As has been the case multiple goals this season, this Columbus score begins with a goal kick. This time, we’ll skip ahead to Artur in possession of the ball at midfield.

It’s become a running point of emphasis for Anatomy of a Goal, but pay attention to the way Artur and Wil Trapp link the offense and defense while Crew SC are on the attack. Here, the Brazilian took the further forward role while Trapp dropped in between the center backs.

Normally, we would evaluate every option that Artur has in moving forward, but, as you can see, Artur has a passing window to nearly every payer on his team.

Artur decides to link up with his No. 10, sending the ball forward to Federico Higuain. With his back to the goal and two defenders bearing down, Higuain must make a quick decision.

As the ball approaches him, Higuain decides to play a one-time pass back to Trapp. Again, Trapp is providing a safety valve for the offense while Artur plays the further forward midfield position.

Much like Artur moments before, Trapp has multiple options. With no defenders within about eight yards, Trapp can carry the ball toward the midfield, play a quick pass back to Jonathan Mensah, make a similar pass back to Josh Williams, knock a long, diagonal pass to an unmarked Hector Jimenez, a pass forward to Pedro Santos or a longer pass forward to Harrison Afful.

Trapp finds Santos, who can carry the ball forward, slide a pass up to Afful, a drop back to Trapp or a touch pass to Artur.

Santos touches the ball over to Artur, who quickly plays a pass forward to Higuain. Again, notice Artur’s role in linking various parts of the Crew SC team to the attack, moving play forward.

As he receives the ball, Higuain quickly turns and slides a pass into Kekuta Manneh.

Manneh is quickly stopped, and turns the ball back away from the goal. As he turns, the winger can either slide a quick pass back to Higuain or turn and find a still unmarked Jimenez.

Manneh is not able to turn toward Jimenez and instead drops the ball back to Higuain as five defenders surround the Columbus winger.

Higuain receives the ball and has space to work.

Let’s change the angle and look at the rest of this play from the sideline view.

Higuain briefly holds up the ball as Santos, just above the purple offside line, makes a run toward goal. As he sees Santos marked by Jonathan Spector, Higuain turns toward the left side of the field. Just offscreen is Jimenez, still running unmarked.

The offside line here is held by Spector. Kamara is a touch offside, but will do an excellent job of jumping back on before Higuain makes his pass to Jimenez. Kamara’s offside/onside position will not matter to his eventual goal, but is an excellent example of the striker’s intelligent movement.

The above video shows Kamara’s quick movement back onside. The Black & Gold striker puts himself in position for a pass over the top from Higuain and avoids an offside call on the eventual pass to Jimenez.

Finally, Higuain makes his deft pass to Jimenez, who is running up the left wing. Higuain cleverly uses the outside of his right foot to send the ball just ahead of his left back. Again, notice that Kamara has jumped back onside just before the pass is played.

In the above video, you can see how Higuain’s perfect outside-foot pass puts Jimenez in an excellent position to cross the ball to Kamara.

With the ball at his feet and no Orlando players near him, Jimenez can carry the ball toward the goal line before making his pass to Kamara. Meanwhile, Kamara’s positioning just onside sets him ahead of the Lions’ backline, putting no defenders between him and the goal.

The final question before Kamara’s goal is whether the striker was onside. From the above angle, it looks like Kamara is a foot or two behind Jimenez’s onside line, which is the ball in this situation. It seems that Kamara is clearly onside as Jimenez plays a perfect pass in his path.

Kamara beats the Orlando City Players to the ball . . .

. . . and easily puts Columbus into the lead.

Findings:

  1. Once again, the central midfield duo of Artur and Trapp link the offense and defense. This understanding between Crew SC’s various midfield duos has been an instrumental part of the Black & Gold’s now nine-match unbeaten run.
  2. Higuain makes an excellent pass with the outside of his right foot, sending Jimenez in on goal.
  3. Jimenez’s perfect run and pass to Kamara are yet another reason why the versatile veteran continues to get playing time for Columbus.
  4. Kamara’s finish was simple, but his excellent movement getting onside and beating every Orlando defender are what makes him such a valuable striker.