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Anatomy of a Goal: Kei Kamara gets revenge

This week, we look at Kamara’s game-winning goal that sent Crew SC to their first loss of 2018

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 five of the 2018 MLS Season, we take a look at former Crew SC striker Kei Kamara’s 78th minute header that put the Vancouver Whitecaps up 2-1 on Columbus as part of the visitor’s win on Saturday.

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

After a very good first half, the Black & Gold looked lost for most of the second, succumbing to a Brek Shea strike that evened the match in the 51st minute.

The Whitecaps’ game-winner comes off a counter attack that begins just inside their defensive half. Before the counter begins, Lalas Abubakar sees an open Artur and slides a pass to the Brazilian midfielder.

Artur receives the ball and heads forward. Just across midfield, Aly Ghazal cuts off Artur’s path forward. To the Brazilian’s left, Alphonso Davies cuts off his access to the sideline and to Milton Valenzuela who is much further up the field. Artur’s only real option is a quick pass to Cristian Martinez.

Before Artur sees Martinez, Felipe cuts off his right blocking off almost every outlet for the Crew SC midfielder. Artur’s only good option is a pass back to Abubakar.

Davies dives in on Artur as the Columbus midfielder tries to move past the young Canadian. Davies just gets a touch on the ball and Felipe provides added pressure.

Seeing an opportunity to win the ball, Ghazal heads to cut off the passing angle between Artur and Federico Higuain. Felipe and Artur bobble the ball right into Ghazal’s path.

Ghazal beats Higuain to the loose ball and immediately sees an unmarked Russell Teibert ready to spring a Vancouver counterattack.

Teibert turns up the field and sees ample space in front of him. Just ahead is Kamara, to his right is Davies running up the channel and to his left is Shea. Martinez provides a slight bit of pressure on Teibert’s back, and will try to use his pace to get ahead of the Canadian.

Harrison Afful is just visible at the top left of the frame, and has left the speedy Shea unmarked to run at Jonathan.

Midfielder Wil Trapp recognizes the numbers issue the Black & Gold face, and heads back toward his own goal.

Abubakar has to decide whether to mark Kamara or to try and cut off Davies’ run. The defender hesitates but seems to lean toward Davies.

Seeing Abubakar’s hesitation, Teibert plays an excellent pass right between Trapp and Abubakar, and into the path of the pacey Davies.

Davies heads up the field to meet Teibert’s pass as Abubakar takes a bad angle at the Whitecaps midfielder. With his back to the ball, it is unlikely that Abubakar was able to see Teibert’s pass.

The Crew SC defender should have either attempted to cut in front of the ball or cut in front of Davies, but instead takes an odd angle at Davies before getting into a footrace with the, at least slightly, faster Canadian.

Abubakar is no match for Davies’ pace, and is beaten to the ball. Trapp, on the left of the image, drops back to fill in the space between Abubakar and Jonathan, who is marking Shea.

After Davies beats Abubakar to the ball, the young attacker sees his angle to the middle of the field cut off. He either has to take the Columbus defender off the dribble or head toward his own goal.

From the side angle, you can see Davies’ options. He can carry the ball further toward the touchline, dribble back toward his own goal or play a pass to Felipe, just to the left of the frame.

In the box, you can see Shea and Kamara, who must be marked by Jonathan and Trapp. Both of these attackers are taller than six feet. Jonathan is just above six feet, but Trapp is significantly shorter than Shea or Kamara. With Abubakar and Artur marking Davies, and Gyasi Zardes further up the field, there are no tall players left to cover either of Vancouver’s towering attackers.

With no good angle for a cross, Davies plays a sharp pass back to Felipe.

With the ball at his feet, Felipe is soon to be under pressure from Artur and Valenzuela.

Martinez is ostensibly covering Teibert and Higuain is prepared to pounce into the passing lane between Felipe and Teibert.

In the penalty box, however, Trapp is marking Kei Kamara, and Felipe no doubt sees this mismatch.

Before the pressure arrives, Felipe prepares to play a lofted pass into the path of Kamara.

Trapp is covering Kamara’s goal side, so the towering striker can easily get in position to receive Felipe’s pass.

The above video shows just how difficult Kamara’s header was. From the angle he receives the pass, it would be difficult to get a headed shot onto the front post. However, Kamara is able to expertly flick the ball off onto the back post right past Zack Steffen.

From the above still, it’s clear just how difficult of an angle Kamara had on goal. A chest height pass could have allowed him to get a shot off, but Felipe’s ball was clearly meant for a headed chance.

Steffen sees Kamara’s flicked header and dives just soon enough to see the ball pass him by . . .

. . . and into the back of the net.


  1. Vancouver does an excellent job giving Artur space and then quickly boxing him in, creating a turnover and setting off a counter attack.
  2. Teibert’s pass that sprung Davies expertly split Abubakar and Trapp.
  3. With Abubakar forced to cover for Valenzuela, who had pushed far up the field, Trapp was left to mark either the 6-foot-5” Kamara or the 6-foot-3 Shea. Neither option was good.
  4. Kamara’s flicked header was excellent. Steffen likely should have gotten to the ball but Kamara was able to flick his shot into the most difficult place for Steffen to cover.