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Anatomy of a Goal: Kekuta Manneh and Ola Kamara make magic

This week we look at Manneh’s skillful assist to Kamara.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-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 30 of the 2017 MLS Season, we take a look at Ola Kamara’s 19th minute goal off of an excellent assist by Kekuta Manneh that leveled Crew SC and Vancouver Whitecaps at 1-1 as part of the 2-2 draw on Saturday.

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

The Black & Goal went down 1-0 off an early Fredy Montero goal, but Crew SC responded well by playing the traditional Gregg Berhalter style.

Kamara’s goal started with a goal kick, touched seven different Columbus players before it reaching the forward (only Harrison Afful, Federico Higuain, and Pedro Santos did not touch the ball on the lead), and was the result of nine passes.

Zack Steffen starts the play for Crew SC with a quick goal kick to captain Wil Trapp.

With the ball as his feet, Trapp can play a quick pass up to center midfield teammate Mohammed Abu, carry the ball forward, pass to Afful on the right wing or drop a pass to Lalas Abubakar.

Trapp links up with his midfield partner, Abu, who himself has plenty of options. He can play a pass to the left wing for left back Hector Jimenez, carry the ball forward, play a quick through pass to Higuain, kock a pass to Afful on the other wing, drop the ball right back to Trapp or a pass back to Abubakar.

Pay close attention to Abu and Trapp during this play. In their multiple consecutive matches started together, Abu and Trapp have developed a very good relationship as links to various parts of the attack and defense.

During the course of this play, Abu and Trapp both link the defense to the midfield and the attack. Especially important is that neither occupies the same space at the same time, alternating between linking with the defense and linking with the offense.

Abu opts for a quick pass back to Abubakar, who uses a heavy chested ball to move himself up the field.

Abubakar chases his chested ball down the field and is, luckily, never defended. As the defender continues downfield he has the option to continue his dribble, pass the ball up to the double-defended Jimenez, or drop the ball to Trapp, who has shifted up the field.

Abu, just above the referee, has pushed forward as Trapp has shifted into the vacated position.

Abubakar shifts the ball back to his captain.

Trapp receives the ball and has ample space with which to explore his many options including a pass back to Abubakar, a pass up the wing to Jimenez, who is in the process of shifting from his wide position toward a supplementary position near the center of the midfield, a slid ball back up to his midfield partner, continue his dribble forward or complete the field switch to center back Josh Williams.

Trapp completes the switch and shifts the ball over to Williams who, unmarked, carries forward.

Williams then links up with Abu, who receives the ball with space to operate.

Surrounded by Whitecap defenders, Abu can play a pass to an open Manneh, make a similar pass to Santos, touch a ball back to Williams or play or a quick pass to Jimenez.

Notice the multiple large passing triangles that are created by Abu and the rest of the Crew SC attacking players.

Abu moves the ball over to Jimenez, who takes a quick touch forward . . .

. . . and finds Manneh on the left wing.

With the ball at his feet, Manneh is intent on beating Whitecap right back Jakob Nerwinski off the dribble and showing his former team what it has lost. Manneh will head up the right flank, using multiple step overs and feints in order to find a window for a cross into the box.

Manneh’s dribbling ability speaks for itself in the above video. Nerwinski never gets close enough to really pose a threat, and the winger expertly exploits the open look he gets.

In the above image, Manneh sets up for the move that will shake Nerwinski just enough to open a window for the winger’s pass. The former Whitecap will fake a cross with his left foot and touch the ball forward into a crossing position.

As Manneh hits his cross, Kamara moves to a front post position, running the channel between Kendall Waston and Tim Parker.

Parker checks Kamara’s run, butis unable to get in front of the Black & Gold’s striker.

Here, you can see just how tough the angle was for Kamara’s redirected shot. Kamara will use his right foot to touch the ball passed David Ousted.

Above is the side angle of Kamara’s excellent flicked in goal. Again, this is an incredibly difficult shot from a tough angle.

Kamara flicks the ball with his right foot . . .

. . . and levels the game at 1-1.


  1. When the system works, the system works. Eight Crew SC players combine for nine passes, with both center backs and center midfielders linking up.
  2. Abu and Trapp both provide excellent links between the defense and offense.
  3. Manneh’s deft footwork and inch-perfect cross sets the tone for the winger’s best match with Columbus.
  4. Once again, Kamara makes a difficult shot look simple, scoring his 16th goal of the season, equaling last year’s total.