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Anatomy of a Goal: Ola Kamara finishes the transition

This week we look at Kamara’s finish of a team-created goal.

MLS: FC Dallas at Columbus Crew SC 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 match 28 of the 2017 MLS Season, we take a look at Ola Kamara’s 50th minute goal that put Crew SC up 1-0 as part of the 2-1 win over FC Dallas on Saturday.

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

The Black & Gold returned to the team’s typical 4-2-3-1 against Dallas after a successful run with that formation during a midweek match with LA Galaxy. For the first half of the game, Crew SC saw more of the ball than the Hoops but were ultimately unable to put that ball into the back of the net.

This Columbus goal was an excellent example of the Gregg Berhalter system taking the team from one end of the field to the other. The goal begins with a short goal kick played from Zack Steffen to center-back Jonathan Mensah. As Jonathan is pressured by Maximiliano Urruti, he is able to find midfielder Mohammed Abu at the top of the penaty box.

With the ball at the top of the box, Abu can pass the ball forward to creative midfielder Federico Higuain, continue to carry the ball, play a square pass to Wil Trapp, drop a pass back to Jonathan, another drop to Steffen or yet another drop back to Josh Williams.

Abu decides to send the ball forward to Higuain, who is very briefly undefended.

However, Higuain senses the impending pressure from Kellyn Acosta, so he plays the ball back to Abu who has moved a few yards forward and is still unmarked.

Again, Abu provides an important link between the midfield, defense, and attack, with multiple options. He can either continue his dribble up the field, play a quick pass back to Higuain who is marked by Acosta, drop the ball back to Trapp or Williams or a pass up the field to left back Jukka Raitala.

Abu plays a pass up the field to Raitala and continues his run forward while tracked by Lamah.

With the ball at his feet, Raitala can do one of three things. He can play a pass up the sideline to Justin Meram, continue to dribble around Carlos Gruezo or a diagonal pass to Higuain.

Raitala carries the ball across midfield and then slots a pass over to Meram.

With the ball at his feet and very little space to operate, Meram can play a difficult through pass to Pedro Santos, knock a tough diagonal ball to Higuain or drop the ball back to Raitala.

Meram decides to force the ball into the area between Santos and Higuain, but Acosta is quick to pounce on the weak pass.

However, Kamara approaches the ball at the same time as Acosta. The forward’s pressure causes Acosta to play a heavy touch on the ball, right into the body of Kamara.

The above video shows Kamara and Acosta’s battle for this ball, and the potential goal-voiding situation that resulted from this battle. As Acosta and Kamara clash, the ball pops up into the Crew SC player’s midsection. Both Acosta and Walker Zimmerman shout for a hand ball, but the official allows the play to continue.

Zoomed in, judge for yourself whether this was a handball. Acosta gave the referee his thoughts after the goal, but from here it looks like Kamara settles the ball with his chest/stomach and not his arm.

As with last week’s potentially offside goal, every play is reviewed by the video assistant referee. So, it appears that VAR decided that this was not a handball.

Having won the ball from Acosta, Kamara plays a quick pass over to Higuain.

At the top of the box, Higuain can continue to dribble toward the goal or play a through ball to Hector Jimenez.

Higuain could also chip a ball into the path of Kamara or Santos, but from this angle it is clear to see that both attacking players are offside.

Seeing little attacking space to move forward, Higuain plays a perfectly weighted through ball to Jimenez.

As Jimenez sprints toward Higuain’s pass, he must quickly decide whether to shoot or whether to cross the ball to Kamara or Santos. With Tesho Akindele bearing down, Jimenez has to play the ball with his first touch.

Jimenez approaches the ball, and squares his hips toward Kamara to play a cross on the ground toward the striker.

From the side angle, it’s clear that Kamara is onside right as Jimenez squares the ball.

Jimenez’s pass is a half step behind Kamara, so the striker must alter his run in order to fire in a shot on goal.

Kamara contorts his body in order to get his foot behind the ball . . .

. . . and finds the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. The Berhalter system once again worked to (near) perfection with the ball traveling all the way from the goalkeeper to the back of the opponent’s net, with every pass being played on the ground and only one near turnover.
  2. Abu was positioned well and made excellent decisions during this play. The midfielder acted as the link between the defense and offense that many teams, including Crew SC, often lack.
  3. Jimenez made an excellent pass into the path of Kamara.
  4. Kamara finished the goal, getting onto the end of a pass that was more difficult to strike than it initially seemed.