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Anatomy of a Goal: Ola’s Opener

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This week we look at Ola Kamara’s back post rocket.

MLS: New England Revolution at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

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

For Week 10 of the 2017 MLS season, we take a look at Ola Kamara’s 13th minute goal that gave Crew SC a 1-0 lead as part of the win over New England Revolution on Saturday.

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

Before Ola’s early goal, the match had mostly been an even affair. Both teams had opportunities, but were still finding their footing during these early stages.

There is a lot going on in this first image. Notice the Black & Gold defensive positioning. During most of this match, Crew SC defended in their typical 4-4-2 with rigid banks in the midfield and defensive line. The banks are a bit jumbled here, but Columbus has almost every attacking option covered.

Revolution midfielder Xavier Kouassi has just received a pass from attacking teammate Lee Nguyen, and realistically has only one option, dribble forward toward goal and hope that he’s able to beat Wil Trapp and Jonathan Mensah.

Trapp and Mensah will easily close him out, and the Crew attacking players (specifically winger Justin Meram and Kamara) begin their runs to the offensive end. Federico Higuain is totally unmarked and will provide an easy pass for the defense once the ball is won from Kouassi.

Trapp, who an excellent match against the Revolution, wins the ball from Kouassi and makes a short, simple pass to Jonathan. Higuain is still totally unmarked while Kamara and Meram begin their offensive runs.

Notice Trapp in the middle of this image. After he makes a pass to Jonathan, he immediately notices Higuain open in the middle of the field. In this image, you can see Trapp pointing directly at Higuain, showing Jonathan, who is still learning the intricacies of the Crew SC system, where to put his pass.

Meanwhile, Meram, unmarked and out of the sight of Nguyen, will provide a simple target for Higuain’s pass.

Higuain receives the ball, and turns toward an unmarked Meram. Revolution right back Andrew Farrell is just too far behind Meram to catch up. Kamara is just to the left of this image, having moved forward while Trapp won the ball off of Kouassi.

With Farrell trailing behind, Meram can see that he has many yards of space open in front of him. New England only has three defenders back, allowing the Crew SC winger to continue his push forward.

Kamara has returned to the fold in this image, as Ethan Finlay streaks down the right side of the field. Meram angles his run toward the middle of the field, giving himself more space to work with and forcing the Revolution center backs to make a defensive decision, leaving Kamara open or allowing Meram to continue on his path to goal.

Kamara makes a really intelligent run to open himself up for Meram’s assist. The forward takes his run right toward Revolution center-back Joshua Smith, appearing to look for a pass in the middle of the field slipped into the channel between Smith and fellow center-back Antonio Delamea. In the next images, you will see that once Smith makes the decision to cover Meram, Kamara will angle his run back away from Smith, opening himself up for an easy slipped pass from his teammate.

Now, Smith has to make a decision. Will he cover Kamara in hopes that Delamea and Farrell will cover Meram, or does he cut of Meram’s drive in hopes that Delamea will cover Kamara’s continued run?

Smith opts to focus his attention on Meram, while Delamea runs in behind him, keeping Kamara onside while taking an intelligent angle that will eventually allow him to nearly block Kamara’s shot on goal.

The instant that Kamara sees Smith commit his attention to Meram, the Crew SC striker cuts his run back away from the defender, while being kept onside by Delamea.

Here, Meram sees that Smith focuses all attention on him, and slots a very simple pass betweel Farrell and Smith into the path of a goal-bound Kamara. Ola is clearly held onside by Delamea.

In the above video, you can see how brilliant Kamara’s run is. By running right at Smith, Kamara freezes the Revolution defender, and makes him choose between marking Meram or the Crew SC striker.

As Smith stops covering, Kamara runs toward goal and easily receives a pass with no defenders in front of him.

Here is another angle of Ola’s run at Smith. From this angle, you can see Kamara begin his run goal-ward immediately after Smith turns his head toward Meram.

The above image shows Smith totally caught flatfooted between Meram and Kamara. Smith has no angle on the either Crew SC player, and is easily beaten by Meram’s well-played pass.

Once Kamara is in on goal, he now has two options: a back post shot on his preferred right foot; or a pass to a well-marked Finlay.

Kamara opts for a curling, back post shot as Delamea barrels toward him.

The Crew SC striker is able to get the ball up and over Delamea, though Delamea may have gotten a deflection on the ball, and toward the back post...

...where he perfectly slots the ball, giving Crew SC a 1-0 lead.

Findings:

  1. Trapp had one of his best games of this season and was instrumental in this goal. He made the initial tackle to win the ball from Kouassi, and directed Jonathan toward Higuain, who springs Meram.
  2. Meram made every correct decision during this play, including his inch-perfect pass to Kamara.
  3. Kamara’s run shows just how valuable his movement is. With his angled run at Revolution center back Joshua Smith, Kamara opened himself up for a pass while also setting Smith on his heals, allowing Meram to slide an easy pass to the Crew SC striker for an assist.