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Anatomy of a Goal: Bend it like Meram

This week we look at Justin Meram’s playoff-sealing goalazo.

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 32 of the 2017 MLS Season, we take a look at Justin Meram’s 56th minute curler that put Crew SC up 2-0 as part of the 2-0 win over D.C. United on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the finish from the Crew SC winger.

Columbus entered this match with a chance to clinch a playoff spot. After a 13th minute goal by center back Josh Williams, the Black & Gold looked set to cruise to a victory over their longtime rivals.

Meram’s spectacular goal begins with Jonathan Mensah possessing the ball near midfield. As Jonathan carries the ball forward, he has multiple options (including Harrison Afful), but the main focus of the above image is the positioning of Artur and Wil Trapp.

During Crew SC’s current unbeaten streak, the linking play of the central midfield has been excellent. Trapp and his midfield partner (be it Mohammed Abu or Artur) have done an great job of linking the defense to the attack. Here, Trapp drops back into his typical deep-lying role while Artur is in the more forward position. From this spot, Artur can connect the passing center backs to the front four in the attack.

With a defender shielding Artur, Jonathan can either continue to carry the ball forward or slide the ball out to Afful on the right wing.

Afful is quickly defended, so he has to get rid of the ball. D.C. cuts off Jonathan, so Afful has either a simple pass to Artur or a more difficult pass up the field to Federico Higuain.

Afful expertly connects with Higuain and then makes a quick run around Zoltan Stieber. Higuain recognizes Afful’s move and sends the ball back to his teammate to complete the give-and-go.

Pedro Santos runs parallel to Afful, but is cut off by two United defenders. Afful can then either continue to carry the ball toward the end line or can turn the ball back toward his defensive half.

Wit no options forward, Afful turns the ball back toward his defensive half and finds Artur, providing a safety valve for the wingback.

Artur receives the ball and has Higuain heading right toward him. The center midfielder also has the option to carry the ball backward.

Artur carries the ball backward as Higuain is sandwiched by D.C. However, as soon as one defender heads toward Artur, Higuain cuts toward the right wing, opening himself up for a simple pass from his teammate.

Artur recognizes Higuain’s run and quickly fires the ball to his No. 10.

Higuain quickly settles the pass and makes an excellent back-heel pass to Artur, who will easily catch up to the ball.

The video above shows the great give-and-go back-heel between Artur and Higuain. It’s rare that these sorts of movements work out, but when they do, they can change a game.

As Artur runs onto Higuain’s back-heel, he immediately has multiple options: a quick touch to Trapp, a square pass to an in-motion Hector Jimenez, a diagonal ball up to Meram on the wing or continue to carry the ball upfield.

Artur opts for a pass in the direction of both Jimenez and Meram.

Artur’s pass to Meram is better analyzed from the video above. In this video, you can see Jimenez pull off a “dummy” run and let the ball run between his legs out to Meram on the right wing. As Jimenez performs the dummy he briefly freezes Sean Franklin, allowing Meram to receive Artur’s pass under no pressure.

On the ball, Meram is able to drive forward into the United goal box. However, D.C. is tightly marking the Columbus attackers. Meram must decide whether to continue holding onto the ball or attempt an difficult shot.

Of course, Meram decides to take a chance on goal from the top corner of the penalty box. As anyone who has watched Meram warm up before games or who has watched Meram take a “meathook” shot like he did last week knows, the Black & Gold winger has a knack for putting a big bend on the ball with a right-footed shot from the left side of the goal.

The video above shows Meram’s brilliant bender just kiss off the top post and into the back of the net.

Meram takes his shot . . .

. . . and secures Crew SC’s playoff spot!


  1. Once again, the Crew SC central midfield pair does a great job of linking the defense to the attack.
  2. Higuain is instrumental in two excellent give-and-go plays, one with Afful and one with Artur.
  3. Jimenez performs an excellent dummy run, providing Meram with the space and time he needs to score a beautiful goal.
  4. Meram takes an absolutely perfect shot, locking up the match for the Black & Gold.