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Anatomy of a Goal: Ola Kamara’s Chip

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Each week we will break down a goal (or goals) from the latest Crew SC match. This week, the Ola chip.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

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

For week four on the 2017 MLS Season, we take a look at Ola Kamara’s 19th minute chipped goal that put Crew SC up 2-1 as part of the 3-2 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday.

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

First, let’s set the scene. Up to this point in the game, Crew SC had dominated possession while Portland looked to defend, high press, and counter. The Timbers’ first goal came off of a direct attack and the Black & Gold’s first goal came from a Justin Meram rebound on a corner kick.

The build up to Kamara’s chip goal starts with an Alvas Powell throw-in.

In the above image, you can see that Portland has five players in position to receive the throw-in (Federico Higuain is pointing to the sixth man/safety valve). Realistically, Powell has three options: Fanendo Adi, Dairon Asprilla, and Diego Valeri. In what looks like a designed play, Powell makes the deep throw to Adi who immediately heads the ball in the direction of Valeri.

Jonathan Mensah is easily able to cut off the headed ball and makes a simple pass to Artur, who immediately turns the ball upfield.

The image above shows where this goal really begins. If you notice Higuain, his head is turned downfield rather than looking at Artur. At this moment, he’s aware that Powell has not tracked back on defense and Zarek Valentin is pushed far up the field watching Ethan Finaly, leaving Kamara downfield and marked only by the Timbers center backs.

As Artur dribbles upfield, still un-pressured by Diego Chara, Higuain continues to look at Kamara’s positioning. Higuain knows exactly where Kamara is at all times during this play.

Here, you can see that Chara begins to pressure Artur, and Artur can see two options: Harrison Afful or Finlay. Artur opts for the pass upfield to Finaly but makes his decision and pass too late, allowing Chara to deflect the ball right into the path of Valeri.

Valeri heads the ball back into the general direction of Chara and Sebastián Blanco. However, Afful makes a great hustle play to out-jump Chara (who is two inches taller than Afful), and head the ball downfield in the direction of Higuain. If Afful gets beaten by Chara, the ball likely makes it’s way to Blanco, who only has to beat Jonathan to get in on goal.

Above, Higuain is waiting for the ball that Afful was able to put right in his path. He knows the ball is going to get to him so he’s looking to see EXACTLY where Kamara is. Higuain likely notices that Powell is still not back on defense and Kamara is only marked by the two center backs. You can just see Valentin’s shadow above Higuain’s head. Valentin has arguably moved too far up the field to track Finaly and provide an outlet pass.

Higuain receives the ball on a bad bounce, maybe controlling the ball with his arm, but he’s already made his mind up to send a long ball into the path of the sprinting Kamara. Higuain controls the ball, and fires a second-touch-volley down the field and over the head of Kamara and the Portland center backs.

This image shows exactly how open Kamara was whenever Higuain turned his head in the seconds leading up to this pass. The forward is only marked by the two center-backs. Kamara splits the center-backs, and puts his run close enough to Lawrence Olum that Olum doesn’t have the speed to get in front of Kamara.

Kamara can now see that he’s going to get the first touch on the ball. The decision he has to make is whether to hit a one-touch-volley over the head of Jake Gleeson, who he can see is very far off of his line, or to take a touch and try to beat Gleeson 1 v 1. Both Olum and Roy Miller peel off of Kamara to try and get into a goal-side position. Olum immediately heads toward the goal, while Miller makes a bent run, trying to coax Kamar into a second touch. On the replay, it looks like Gleeson isn’t sure whether to come out or stay back. Both defenders head toward the goal so Gleeson stays out.

By this point, Kamara has decided to knock a one-time chip over Gleeson before Olum or Miller can get in position for a clearance. Kamara is running toward a ball that is traveling left and away from the goal. On this shot, he displays excellent control of his body. Kamara maintains his run away from the goal, slowing down only long enough to make sure he connects with the ball. Then, he expertly uses his left foot (don’t forget, Ola is right-footed) to redirect the ball over Gleeson and into back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Higuain is constantly aware of Kamara’s positioning. In most of the images above, the attacking midfielder is looking forward. It seems like Higuain is aware of the entire team’s positioning at all times during this play.
  2. Weeks after being subbed off at the half for a “performance issue,” Harrison Afful made a top-notch hustle play by out-jumping the taller Diego Chara and sacrificing his body to get to the ball. Afful’s hustle not only lead to a goal but also prevented an easy change for Blanco.
  3. Ola Kamara made an incredible play and decision, running away from goal and chipping over the keeper with his off-foot.
  4. Three Portland defenders (Gleeson, Olum, and Miller) all made the wrong decision. Both center backs run toward the goal, away from Kamara, and Gleeson comes way too far off his line.

And that, is this week’s Anatomy of a Goal. This one showed some pretty impressive stuff from Crew SC and ultimately played a large part in three points at home.