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Anatomy of a Goal: Diomande’s crafty finish for LAFC

This week we look at LAFC’s second goal and try to determine whether it was offside.

MLS: Columbus Crew at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-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 18 of the 2018 MLS Season, we take a look at Los Angeles Football Club striker Adama Diomande’s controversial eighth minute goal that put LAFC up 2-0 on Columbus as part of the team’s win on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the finish from the Los Angeles attacker.

This match, the first after a 10-day World Cup break, did not start well for Crew SC. Columbus looked lifeless from the beginning and gave up a fourth minute goal off a Laurent Ciman free kick.

LA’s second goal begins off of a turnover by Artur. The Black & Gold midfielder attempts to play a long pass across the midfield line to Federico Higuain, but an LAFC player gets a quick jump on the ball.

Midfielder Eduard Atuesta slides in front of Artur’s pass and sends the ball to teammate Diego Rossi.

Artur is now left to defend three players after turning the ball over. To his right is Rossi with the ball, ahead is Lee Nguyen and to his left is Benny Feilhaber. Rossi holds the ball for a few seconds before slipping a pass into the path of Feilhaber, sending the midfielder toward the Crew SC goal.

Feilhaber receives Rossi’s pass and has multiple yards of open space ahead of him. To his right, Latif Blessing runs into the space vacated by Milton Valenzuela’s run forward. Valenzuela, on the bottom left of the image, sprints back to cover the Los Angeles counterattack.

As Feilhaber carries the ball forward he can either continue his dribble until he reaches the defensive line, play a through pass to Diomande or knock a diagonal ball to Blessing.

Feilhaber slots a perfectly weighted pass right into the path of Blessing as Valenzuela scrambles back.

Lalas Abubakar heads to his left in an attempt to get in front of Blessing. If Blessing is able to take a quick touch he has an open shot on goal.

Blessing takes a second too long to set the ball up on his right foot and allows Abubakar to make an excellent deflection on the shot, sending the ball a few yards behind Blessing.

The LA winger recovers the ball from his blocked shot as Valenzuela gets back into a defensive position. With his path forward cut off, Blessing heads toward the middle of the goal box.

At this point, Blessing can play a square pass to Nguyen, a diagonal pass to Feilhaber or attempt to carry the ball toward the goal. Future goalscorer Diomande is clearly offside at this point.

Blessing plays a quick pass to Feilhaber who is on the tip of a passing triangle that is completed by Nguyen. Diomande is still offside.

Feilhaber quickly plays a pass back to the third member of the passing triangle, Nguyen. Dimomande is still offside but closer to being level with Abubakar.

Nguyen one-touches Feilhaber’s pass right into the path of Diomande. No one wearing black seems to have noticed Diomande returning to the fold from an offside position, and once he receives the pass, multiple Crew SC hands go up asking for the offside flag. From this angle it’s difficult to determine whether Diomande was onside or off, so let’s look at the side view.

The above image shows Diomande’s positioning immediately after the the ball leaves Nguyen’s foot. From this angle it difficult to tell whether he is held on by Abubakar. The angle of this image is slightly skewed, but it appears that Diomande is just slightly behind Abubakar.

Nonetheless, the assistant referee is in the perfect position to make the call and leaves his flag down.

Diomande comes back from his (potentially) offside position to receive Nguyen’s pass.

With multiple appeals for offside from Columbus, Diomande has no defenders between him and the goal. Abubakar is left to try to make his second sliding block in a minute.

Diomande takes his shot before Abubakar is able to slide in front of the ball. Goalkeeper Jon Kempin looks to have his near post covered, but Diomande fires his shot low and toward the near post . . .

. . . and into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Artur’s pass was another example of how poorly Crew SC played during the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s match. The midfielder should have seen Atuesta in an easy position to intercept the ball.
  2. Abubakar does an excellent job to get in front of Blessing’s shot but ends up being the goat on this play.
  3. Even if Diomande was offside, and I think he was, Abubakar and Harrison Afful both should have held a defensive line that was a few yards higher than their positioning.
  4. Kempin giving up the near post leaves us to wonder whether this was a save that Zack Steffen might have made.