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Anatomy of a Goal: Zardes gets the brace with nice curling shot

This week we look at Gyasi Zardes’s 69th minute finish that completed his two-goal evening.

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 12 of the 2018 MLS Season, we take a look at Gyasi Zardes’ nice curler in the 69th minute that put Crew SC up 3-0 as part of their win against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.

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

With both teams playing their third match in eight days, the Black & Gold showed no signs of wear and they heaped pressure onto an exhausted Fire side. Up 2-0 in the 69th minute, Zardes was playing one of his best matches for Crew SC, winning a penalty in the first half and scoring a simple tap-in early in the second.

Zardes’ second goal begins with a Columbus free kick near midfield. As the camera cuts away, the ball quickly makes its way from Hector Jimenez to Niko Hansen.

Hansen receives the ball on the right wing and has the time to stand still with the ball without pressure from the Chicago defense. With the closest defender six yards away, Hansen has multiple options. The winger can either carry the ball forward and attempt to beat Brandon Vincent off the dribble, play a quick through pass to Harrison Afful, attempt a much more difficult through pass to Mike Grella, knock a squared ball to Ricardo Clark, or play a drop pass to Artur.

Notice that Clark is suggesting a pass back to Artur.

Hansen heeds Clark’s advice and drops the ball to Artur. With two defenders around him, Artur heads back toward his own goal.

The Crew SC midfielder completes the reset of the offense by dropping the ball to Jonathan Mensah. Both Clark and Artur head back toward Jonathan to provide passing options.

With his two central midfielders providing support, Jonathan has a passing option to either Artur or Clark. Artur is still defended but Clark has a big cushion between himself and Elliott Collier.

Jonathan makes a quick pass to the open Clark, who can immediately carry the ball forward or play a quick pass to Jimenez.

Clark opts to move the ball forward with a pass to Jimenez and quickly moves to the left of the defender. Collier picks up Clark on his run and Brandt Bronico picks up Jimenez, forcing the left back toward the sideline. Afful has also drops back, forming a triangle with Hansen and Jimenez.

As Jimenez is harried by Bronico, his only good option is a quick drop pass for Hansen to collect.

Jimenez makes that drop pass to Hansen and then cuts his run up the sideline. As Jimenez cuts his run, Bronico hesitates in front of Hansen giving the winger the opportunity to play a pass up the sideline to Jimenez, completing the give-and-go.

The versatile Columbus left back receives Hansen’s pass and turns up the field. He has two options as former teammate Tony Tchani prepares to apply defensive pressure: carry the ball forward and hope to beat Tchani in a footrace or a quick pass to Clark who is running free.

Tchani decides not to head toward Jimenez, but Bronico quickly recovers. Rather than try to beat the defenders with the ball at his feet, Jimenez makes the better decision to let the ball do the movement for him and feeds a pass forward to Clark.

Clark easily picks up Jimenez’s pass and heads toward Chicago center back Jonathan Campbell. To his left, Grella makes an unmarked run to ward the center of the goal box. With his arms extended, Grella clearly wants a pass. Zardes runs with Johan Kappelhof toward the Fire goal.

Under pressure from Tchani and Campbell, Clark will have to decide which of his three options to take. He can play a difficult pass to Zardes, a simple square pass to Grella, still calling for the ball or a touch pass to Hansen, continuing forward.

Clark listens to Grella’s pleading and plays a quick pass toward the winger.

Grella’s nice dummy run is worth viewing in motion before we look at the still images. Notice how Grella occupies three defenders, freeing up Zardes for a quick strike.

As Grella prepares to receive the ball he realizes that Jorge Corrales has taken a good angle to slide and got in front of his shot. Grella quickly decides to run a dummy, and either fakes, or attempts, a flick to Hansen. I’ll give Grella the benefit of the doubt and argue that he faked the flick.

Notice the head position of Kappelhof’s head. The Chicago center back is looking right at Grella, leaving Zardes free to get a jump on the dummied ball.

Grella leaves the ball to roll behind him as Kappelhof is stuck staring at the Crew SC winger. Zardes recognizes Grella’s intent and quickly heads toward the ball.

Though Zardes has multiple passing options, including a wide open Federico Higuain, he immediately decides to hit a one-time shot on goal.

Kappelhof’s slow reaction gives Zardes the time he needs to hit a strike to Richard Sanchez’s left.

The shot catches Sanchez flat footed, and Zardes puts a nice shot . . .

. . . into the back of the net!


  1. Clark put in a lot of work on this play. The veteran midfielder started two games during this congested fixture stretch and is fitting nicely into the Gregg Berhalter system.
  2. It’s hard not to love Grella’s demand for the ball followed up by a dummy run. He distracts multiple Chicago defenders with his demonstrative call for the ball and fake.
  3. Zardes seems to be fond of that curling shot, easily finished the tough change.