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 13 of the 2017 MLS Season, we take a look at Ola Kamara’s 20th minute half volley that put Crew SC up 1-0 as part of the 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Sunday.
Here is a look at the finish from the Crew SC striker.
The Black & Gold had a fast start to Sunday’s match against New England, using a high press to disrupt the Revolution and getting the fullbacks involved in the attack. On defense, Columbus employed the typically rigid banks of four, as you can just see breaking up in the image below.
On first glance, Ola’s goal looks like the result of two moments of brilliance: an incredible pass by midfielder Wil Trapp and an incredible strike by the Crew SC striker. However, this goal provides us with an opportunity to dissect how the Black & Gold can successfully pass out of a high press.
In the image above, and the next few images, I have placed a triangle around the three Crew SC players involved in passing out of a press. The passing triangle is one of the quintessential techniques taught and employed by every coach at almost every level of the game. The concept teaches players to quickly pass and move in space, in order to work out of a congested area. In practice, this drill typically employs one or two more offensive players than defensive players, and is often called a “rondo.” The focus of a rondo, and a passing triangle, is to move the ball around the defensive players until one of the offensive players sees an opportunity to move into a new space, opening up an attack or another triangle.
Above, Crew SC left back Waylon Francis wins an errant New England pass, heading the ball toward teammate and winger Justin Meram. Trapp forms the third point of the triangle. In the middle is New England attacker Femi Hollinger-Janzen. Revs right back Andrew Farrell stays just outside this triangle, perhaps wary of giving Meram the space to move into the New England attacking end.
Meram, barely bothered by Farrell, makes a quick pass to Trapp. Femi, still in the middle of the rondo, is forced to defend all three Columbys players as Farrell opts to protect his defensive end rather than get involved in the triangle.
As Femi over commits to the Trapp-Meram combination, the central midfielder makes a quick pass back to Francis. Trapp will then have to make a decision to move based off of Femi’s positioning. If Femi moves back to cover Francis, the New England attacker will then leave space for Trapp to run into, breaking up the triangle and opening up an attacking lane. If Femi stays centrally, Trapp and Francis will have a new passing triangle with center-back Jonathan Mensah.
As Femi heads directly toward Francis, Farrell focuses his attention on Meram. Femi’s decision to defend Francis opens the field for Trapp, who immediately makes a run into the now open space ahead of him. As the ball arrives, Francis must decide if he will pass the ball back to Trapp in an attacking position, or if he will make a pass to the defended Meram.
Francis hits an excellent pass into space to Trapp, giving the Crew SC captain the opportunity to view his surroundings before receiving the pass. As the ball travels, you can see Trapp looking directly at teammate Federico Higuain, who is marked by the just off-screen Xavier Kouassi.
Less than a half-second later, Trapp shifts his gaze from Higuain to the rest of the pitch, where he likely sees Crew SC striker Ola Kamara defended by only one player downfield. Notice the time in this image and the previous image. Trapp is able to identify multiple passing options in the less than one second before he receives the pass from Francis.
Seeing Higuain covered by Kouassi, Trapp decides to move up the field. As Trapp drives forward, Kouassi leaves Higuain. Trapp now has three options: a deep pass to Kamara, continue his dribble and force Kouassi to defend him or Higuain or a quick pass to his playmaker.
Trapp decides to continue his dribble and Kouassi engages the Crew SC captain. As Kouassi closes in on Trapp, the Columbus midfielder now has two options: a deep pass to Kamara or a slotted ball to Higuain. A pass to Higuain is obviously the safe choice, but Trapp is one of the best long-pass deliverers in MLS.
Trapp opts for the home-run pass to Kamara, and his ball is inch-perfect.
The above video shows just how perfect this Trapp pass was. With minimal effort, Trapp sends the ball about to Kamara, who is about 60 yards away. The ball drops directly between Kamara and New England center-back Antonio Delamea, right at the feet of the Crew SC striker.
Kamara, aware of Trapp’s ability to deliver a perfect long pass, sees the ball arrive and must quickly decide whether to take a touch or to let the ball bounce in front of him. Delamea is the last defender between Kamara and the goal.
The Crew SC striker lets the ball take one bounce, and is faced with another decision. Kamara can either hit the ball on a half-volleyed shot from a difficult angle or he can take a touch on the ball and attempt to beat Delamea on the dribble.
As with Trapp, Kamara opts for the home-run option, and fires an outside-the-foot shot from around 20 yards out. Because Kamara uses the outside of his boot, the ball rotates clockwise, curving back in toward the goal...
...and into the back of the net for the Crew SC goal of the season thus far.
This shot has to be seen in video to appreciate how difficult it actually is to make this shot, and Kamara makes it look almost effortless.
- This goal shows how Crew SC can successfully avoid high pressure. By getting the ball to a fullback and including a central midfielder and winger, the Black & Gold can use a triangle pass, or rondo, to disrupt the press and unlock options down the field.
- Trapp was masterful in this play. He breaks from the rondo at the perfect time, and hits an incredible 60 yard pass that catches Kamara in stride.
- Kamara’s shots is nearly as incredible as Trapp’s pass. The Crew SC striker sends the ball across his body to the back post of the goal, using the outside of his right foot.