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Anatomy of a Goal: Ivan’s early header spoils Crewsmas

The sixth minute goal came off a quick transition by the Red Bulls and a defensive lapse by the Crew.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the first Anatomy of a Goal of 2019, where each week we dissect one goal (or near goal) from Columbus Crew SC‘s previous match.

For match one of the new Major League Soccer season, we take a look at Andreas Ivan’s sixth minute goal that put the New York Red Bulls up 1-0 as part of the team’s 1-1 draw with the Crew on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the goal from the New York winger.

MAPFRE Stadium was buzzing as the Black & Gold took the field in a match that many thought might never happen. Supporters throughout the stadium hoped their energy would translate to an on-field party against a second-choice Red Bulls side. It didn’t.

Ivan’s goal begins with the Crew attempting to move the ball up the field. Winger Justin Meram is closed out as he heads toward midfield and makes a quick pass to fullback Waylon Francis.

Francis waits for the ball, but has two one-touch passing options if he is able to receive the ball before being pressured. Federico Higuain heads right toward a simple square pass with Francis and Pedro Santos is out wide for a more difficult, but still possible, switch of fields.

Francis waits for the ball to reach him and still has a simple slip pass to Higuain available. Both Harrison Afful and Santos are in position to push this attacking transition up the field if Francis is able to connect with Higuain.

Unfortunately, Francis attempts to settle the ball and then pops an awkward, lofted ball right to a New York defender.

Cristian Casseres Jr. picks off Francis’ awkward pass and quickly slots the ball over to defender Michael Murillo. The fullback, with space to operate, begins the counter attack.

As Murillo continues up the field, he is as not yet pressured by Meram. With Higuain trailing the play, the Red Bulls have a six-to-five numerical advantage that they will look to exploit.

On the left of the image, Afful tracks Ivan as they both head toward center-back Jonathan Mensah.

Now that Murillo is marked by Meram, the fullback must decide between four options: a quick touch pass to Vincent Bezecourt, a pass up the line to Marcus Epps, a through ball to Florian Valot or a lofted pass to Omir Fernandez.

Murillo slots a pass toward Valot, leaving Gaston Sauro to defend both Valot and Fernandez. Ivan sees that Jonathan will need to provide defensive cover for Sauro, so the attacker cuts right into the channel between Jonathan and Afful.

Afful switches off for a second here, leaving Jonathan to do the defensive work on Ivan and himself in a bad position to defend should Jonathan have to shift toward Fernandez.

With Sauro looking to stop Valot on the ball, Fernandez cuts behind the center back forcing Jonathan to shift toward Fernandez. Ivan has a head start on Afful and is in position for an early pass from Valot.

As the play develops, Jonathan is between a midfielder and a striker, forced to choose which to defend. Afful is in pursuit of Ivan but has to overcome both bad positioning and Ivan’s head start.

Sauro hangs back to provide some cover on Fernandez, leaving Valot with enough space to hit an early cross into the penalty box toward Ivan. Jonathan has been taken out of the play by the New York runners.

From the side angle, you can clearly see that Ivan is both onside and in an excellent position to receive Valot’s cross. The early cross catches Zack Steffen before he is able to come off his line and contest the pass.

Afful is nearly even with Ivan as the ball heads toward the winger.

However, when Afful moved to the ball side of Ivan, he left too much space between himself and the Red Bull attacker.

Afful makes an ill-timed jump toward the ball in hopes of deflecting it away from danger.

He is ultimately in a poor position and unable to even get a glancing touch on the ball as it falls right to Ivan.

The New York winger doesn’t even have to jump to head Valot’s cross, and calmly smashes the ball . . .

. . . into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Francis’ awkward juggle to lofted pass is still confusing. The Crew were set for a field-switching counter and all Francis had to do was make a simple one-touch pass.
  2. New York did an excellent job of forcing Columbus to make decisions and then making the most simple pass. Aside from Afful’s lapse, the Black & Gold were in an appropriate defensive setup for a team scrambling to cover a counter.
  3. Afful’s defensive lapse is critical. Porter’s system seems to task the right back with more defensive responsibility than in previous seasons. Afful must stay switched on defensively or he could be in for a tough year.