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Anatomy of a Goal: Medina gifted with a winner

This week we look at Jesus Medina’s 80th minute goal.

MLS: Columbus Crew at New York City FC Brad Penner-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 21 of the 2018 MLS Season, we take a look at former Jesus Medina’s 80th minute goal that put New York City FC up 1-0 as part of their 2-0 win over the visiting Crew SC on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the finish from the NYC FC striker.

Not much happened during the first 80 minutes of this match, with Columbus ceding the majority of possession to New York and struggling to break through against NYCFC’s defense. The game-winning goal came from a Black & Gold free kick in their own half.

Left back Milton Valenzuela initially stands over this free kick, but turns back to Josh Williams and then immediately heads up the field.

Valenzuela heads to the other side of the midfield line as Eduardo Sosa cuts from his central position into the area vacated by Valenzuela.

The Crew SC left back likely crossed into the attacking half as part of a set plan for a free kick in this area, but his absence on defense will become glaring later on in this play.

Williams steps up to the ball and plays a pass back to goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

Steffen receives the ball with multiple options but quickly hits a pass right back to Williams.

Williams briefly looks up the field, but is boxed in by three NYCFC defenders. The center back then plays another pass back to his goalkeeper.

New York City amps up the pressure as Steffen receives Williams’s pass. Still, the Columbus keeper has multiple passing options. He can play a quick pass to Wil Trapp at the top and middle of the 18-yard-box, knock a long clearance down the field to two waiting teammates or play a quick pass over to Jonathan Mensah.

Before we analyze Steffen’s decision, let’s take a look at the video of his pass.

Steffen decides to make a quick pass to Trapp, who would receive the ball at the top of penalty box. If the pass is completed, Trapp would have time to quickly turn up the field to set off the Black & Gold attack.

However, in what looks like an attempt to put a slight curve on the ball to make sure that it gets around Maxi Moralez, Steffen mishits his pass and sends the ball directly toward Jonathan Lewis.

Lewis takes a few steps toward the ball and immediately hits a first-touch shot at the Crew SC goal.

The shot beats Steffen but hits the right post and caroms back toward Trapp and Lewis.

Trapp pokes a foot out but is unable to redirect the ball.

Lewis, again, is fortunate to find himself with the ball in a dangerous position. His first touch is a bit too heavy, forcing him to chase the ball to his left as the Crew SC defense scrambles to regroup.

Lewis easily recovers the ball and heads toward the left side of the penalty box. At this point, there are enough Columbus defenders to man mark each of the New York City attackers and had the Black & Gold man marked, they might not have had to pull the ball out of their own net.

Above, Jonathan steps into the path of Lewis while Williams heads to the goal line. It is unclear whether Williams is heading to the near post or providing cover for Steffen, but his run to the near post leaves Medina totally unmarked.

This is a good time to note that Crew SC’s left and right backs had both pushed very far up the field during the previous free kick.

Lewis is able to get around Jonathan and now must chose between taking a shot or playing a pass into the middle of the penalty box. Williams continues to head toward the goal line and Artur is unable to track Moralez.

Lewis takes a few touches forward and decides to play a square pass into the middle of the penalty box where he has Moralez (behind Artur) and Medina waiting for a chance at goal.

As the pass heads behind Moralez and toward Medina, Jonathan is the first Columbus player to just miss getting a touch on the ball.

Artur is also inches away from redirecting the ball out of the path of Medina.

Medina sees the ball coming toward him, having somehow snaked its way through multiple players, and must quickly decide whether to play a touch pass to Moralez or whether to take a shot.

Medina has time to take a quick touch and is met with the same two options. Likely expecting a quick shot, the Black & Gold defenses freezes and gives the attacker a few seconds to think.

With the ball on his left foot and six yards of space, Medina fires a shot at the goal.

Williams is unable to get back in front of the ball as he watches it sail . . .

. . . into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Valenzuela heading far up the field was likely the plan, but ended up costing Crew SC valuable defending numbers in their own penalty box.
  2. Steffen’s attempted pass to Trapp would have worked if on target, but he miss-hit the ball at an unfortunate time.
  3. Williams, and all of the Columbus defenders, should have marked open men in the penalty box during this scramble. Instead, they chased the ball and left multiple NYCFC attackers open.
  4. As always, soccer is a game of inches. Here, Steffen’s pass was miss-hit by a few inches, Lewis’ initial shot was just inches from heading into the goal, Trapp was inches away from a rebound, and both Jonathan and Artur were inches away from redirecting Lewis’s pass to Medina.