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Anatomy of a Goal: Segura’s volley sinks Crew SC

This week we look at DC’s winner, coming off a match-opening high press.

MLS: Columbus Crew at D.C. United Tommy Gilligan-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 seven of the 2018 MLS Season, we take a look at Ulises Segura’s first minute goal that put D.C. United up 1-0 and was the only goal in their win over Crew SC on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the finish from the DC midfielder.

Columbus started the match under a heavy D.C. press. United immediately pounced on the Black & Gold, trying to play the ball out of the back, forcing a turnover by Harrison Afful and a pass from Luciano Acosta into the path of Patrick Mullins. We pick up 27 seconds after kickoff.

As the ball bounces toward Mullins, Josh Williams attempts to get a foot on the ball. The Crew SC center back seems to miss the ball, but it takes a lucky bounce back toward Wil Trapp.

The ball takes a hard bounce off the turf, and heads back toward the midfield where Trapp is prepared to clear the ball out of his own goal box.

Trapp knocks the ball high and out of the box, back toward the D.C. midfield.

Before we move on, let’s take a look at the positioning of a few Columbus players who might be responsible for marking Segura on his eventual goal. Artur is his own goal box standing right beside Segura, Trapp has just cleared the ball, Federico Higuain has dropped back toward the ball and Pedro Santos is standing beside Joseph Mora closer to midfield.

As the play develops, we will track these players to see what, if anything, they could have done to step in front of Segura’s volley.

United right back Nick DeLeon will head Trapp’s clearance out of the air into the path of winger Paul Arriola. Cristian Martinez sees DeLeon’s intent and quickly changes directions toward Arriola. Trapp, Higuain and Santos all drift toward the ball but Santos will stay closer to Mora.

Arriola and Martinez begin a footrace to DeLeon’s headed ball as Segura drifts into the frame.

Arriola beats Martinez to the ball and immediately begins a move back toward the Black & Gold’s goal.

Defensively, Artur has drifted with Acosta, Trapp keeps one eye on the ball and one eye on Junior Moreno, Higuain drifts toward DeLeon, and Santos sticks near Mora. Segura has drifted into the middle the field, right in the middle of a triangle of Crew SC defenders.

As Martinez and Arriola fight for the ball on the sideline, Segura continues to remain unmarked.

From the above image, it seems that Santos realizes that there is no defender free to pick up the D.C. midfielder, and he drifts closer toward Segura. Higuain heads toward DeLeon.

Martinez forces Arriola to turn back toward the D.C. goal but the turn finds the United winger with more space to work.

With a few yards of space to work, Arriola has four passing options: 1. a drop back to DeLeon; 2. a shorter pass to Moreno; 3. a square pass to Segura; or, 4. a more difficult square ball to Acosta.

Arriola opts for the simplest pass and drops the ball back to DeLeon.

Santos has drifted closer toward Segura, but seems hesitant to leave Mora unmarked and open for a run behind him.

DeLeon takes the ball a few yards forward and is met with five passing options: 1. a quick drop pass to Moreno; 2. a square pass to Mora; 3. a diagonal ball to Segura; 4. a through pass to Acosta; or 5. a pass between Martinez and Trapp to Arriola.

Santos has drifted closer to Segura but is still hesitant to leave Mora.

DeLeon plays a brilliant through pass right into the path of Acosta, sending the midfielder toward the goal. Luckily, Acosta is marked by Artur and does not have a good angle on the goal.

Santos moves toward the ball but still has not engaged with Segura.

With no angle toward the goal, Acosta plays a brilliant back-heel pass back into the path of Arriola, who is ready to pounce.

The above video shows just how well timed Acosta’s pass was.

Arriola heads toward Acosta and the crafty midfielder prepares to drop a back-heel.

Segura recognizes Acosta and Arriola’s intent, and heads toward the top of the goal box. Santos is now scrambling back to cover.

As Segura moves forward, Arriola hits a one-touch pass right into his path. Santos is too far to step in front of a quick shot. At this point, Williams should step forward, but does not recognize Segura’s run in time.

Williams and Santos scramble toward Segura as he takes aim for the Columbus goal. Segura will have to hit a first-touch shot in order to have a clean look at goal before being pressured by a Black & Gold defender.

He does just that, perfectly hitting the ball right as it rolls into his path. Neither Santos nor Williams are able to apply any pressure that could affect the shot.

Zack Steffen has the near post covered so Segura will have to hit a hard shot to the goalkeeper’s right.

Steffen dives and is nearly able to get a hand on the volley.

But Segura’s shot is too well placed, and it sinks into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. D.C’s pressure at the beginning of the match unsettled Columbus, forcing the Black & Gold to scramble to cover the United attack. This is the second week in a row where Crew SC have given up a goal as the result of a high press.
  2. Acosta’s back-heel pass was a beautiful play and Arriola’s ability to anticipate the pass paid dividends.
  3. Either Santos or Williams likely should have stepped to Segura before he was able to get on the end of Arriola’s pass. That said, it’s hard to blame either. Both Columbus players were in difficult spots where moving could have opened up another D.C. player. United was able to overload that side of the field, creating an opening for a goal.