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Anatomy of a goal: Ola Kamara’s playoff opener

This week, we look at Ola Kamara’s first career playoff goal.

MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinal-New York City at Columbus Crew Greg Bartram-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 leg 1 of the of the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals, we take a look at Ola Kamara’s sixth minute rebound goal that put Crew SC up 1-0 as part of the 4-1 win over New York City FC on Tuesday.

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

Columbus, entering this match on an 11-game unbeaten streak, looked to start off hot against NYCFC. Buoyed by some raucous support from the Nordecke, the Black & Gold pushed hard for the opening goal.

Crew SC’s opening goal begins with a Wil Trapp long ball. Trapp sees Harrison Afful running up the right flank and hits a nearly perfect long pass to his right back.

However, Trapp’s long pass falls just a bit short and is headed forward by NYCFC’s Ben Sweat, right into the path of Rodney Wallace. Pedro Santos sees Wallace driving toward the ball and heads right to the Citizen attacker.

Wallace prepares to receive the ball, seemingly unaware of Santos’ presence. The winger sprints right toward Wallace, putting pressure on the NYCFC attacker’s first touch.

Santos and Wallace fight for the ball as both teams watch, preparing to jump on a loose ball.

Santos ultimately wins, and heads right toward the box. Both Kamara and Federico Higuain make runs away from the ball, providing Santos with multiple passing options as he heads forward.

As he continues forward, Santos runs into NYCFC center back Alexander Callens and teammate Kamara. Kamara quickly breaks to the right, running the channel between the center backs, forcing Callens to decide whether to follow the Columbus striker or to stop the ball.

Callens takes a step toward Kamara and Santos immediately cuts to the right, separating himself from Callens.

Having bought more than a yard of space, Santos must make a decision. He can take a shot on goal, play a pass into the path of Kamara or slide the ball back to Higuain.

Kamara continues his run across the back of Frederic Brillant as Higuain puts himself in position to receive the ball.

Santos drops the ball to Higuain, making a pass between Callens legs. Kamara continues his run behind Brillant, creating space in front of Higuain.

As Higuain heads to the ball, he feels pressure from Alexander Ring. Higuain settles the ball with a quick touch backward, using Ring’s momentum to his advantage and sending the NYCFC midfielder into the space just passed him.

Kamara continues his run, drawing defenders away form Higuain’s path on goal.

Higuain, having just gotten around Ring, turns the ball back toward the goal. Kamara continues to create space for Higuain’s shot on goal.

Higuain attempts to shoot at the back post, into the tiny window that is available. As Higuain takes his shot, notice that Kamara is at least four feet onside.

Higuain’s shot doesn’t have a lot of power behind it, but it is well placed. The shot forces Sean Johnson to make a diving save.

Meanwhile, Brillant watches the shot and leaves Kamara totally unmarked. With Johnson deflecting the ball back into play, Kamara has no defenders between himself and the ball.

Brillant sprints toward Kamara with Johnson still on the ground aftere his save. Kamara is able to get off a quick, off-balance shot.

Johnson recovers, but is unable to get in front of Kamara’s shot . . .

. . . and Columbus take the 1-0 lead!


  1. Trapp’s initial pass to Afful was on target, but just a bit too far toward the NYCFC left back.
  2. Santos’s excellent defensive pressure and decisive pass to Higuain are similar to the a goal that Santos helped set up in Crew SC’s last match of the regular season against NYCFC. Santos has yet to score for the Black & Gold but has contributed with some excellent defensive work.
  3. Higuain’s awareness of Ring is excellent, and avoids the mistake that Wallace made when receiving the initial ball.
  4. Once again, Kamara puts himself in the perfect position to score. His initial run takes the pressure away from Santos and as his run continues it opens up Higuain for a shot and puts the striker in position to knock home an easy goal.