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Anatomy of a Goal: Finlay gets his revenge

This week we look at Ethan Finlay’s game winning goal against his former team.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Minnesota United FC Brace Hemmelgarn-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 14 of the 2019 MLS Season, we take a look at former Crew winger Ethan Finlay’s 70th minute goal that gave Minnesota United to a 1-0 home win on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the goal from the Minnesota midfielder.

It’s not been a good few months for Columbus. The Black & Gold ended one losing streak against an LA team (the Galaxy) but followed that up with the start of a new losing streak against the other LA team.

Playing to avoid the losing streak in Minnesota, the Crew looked lifeless for much of the game. Aside from an Federico Higuain shot off the goalpost, Columbus failed to create any meaningful chances. On the other side of the field, the Loons created multiple chances, significantly out-shooting the Black & Gold and winning the possession battle.

But, we’re here to take apart a goal, and this match’s only finish comes from former Crew player Ethan Finlay.

Finlay’s goal comes from a designed corner kick play. Jan Gregus played a short corner kick to Darwin Quintero, who then will fire a pass to Romain Metanire at the top of the 18-yard box.

Columbus’ defense moves its offside line up when Metanire picks up the ball about 30 yards away. Minnesota center back Brent Kallman sees Metanire receive the ball and prepares to make a run toward the back post.

This play is designed to switch the point of attack two times in hopes of getting Kallman on the end of either a headed shot on goal or a headed pass back across the face of the goal. The Loons first change up the point of attack by avoiding a direct corner into the box and playing the ball to Metanire. Metanire will then play a looping pass toward Kallman at the back post.

Metanire takes a half touch forward and prepares to hit a looping pass into the penalty box. Kallman has timed his run to remain onside until Matanire’s pass is hit.

At this point, Wil Trapp has a tight mark on Finlay.

Kallman uses his center back partner, Michael Boxall, as a screen as he runs into the 18-yard box. Boxall occupies both David Guzman and Josh Williams, giving Kallman an open angle on the ball.

Trapp still has a mark on Finlay.

Gaston Sauro reads the trajectory of the ball and leaves his mark to follow Kallman. With the ball now between Trapp and the goal, the Black & Gold captain turns his back on his former teammate, leaving Finlay with a free chance on goal should Trapp not track him.

Trapp takes a few steps away from Finlay as Kallman and Sauro battle for position. Finlay takes aim at any redirected pass or deflected shots on goal.

The ball travels too close to the end line to give Kallman a good angle on a headed shot. Instead, the Loon’s center back hits a floating header back in front of the goal where multiple Minnesota players are waiting. Trapp, standing flat-footed, has totally left Finlay to run free at the ball.

Finlay takes aim at the ball floating over Jon Kempin toward the opposite post. Trapp has taken himself out of the play and is watching the ball without moving.

Finlay is alone as the ball falls in front of him.

Trapp heads toward the goal line as Jonathan Mensah attempts to mark three Loon attackers. Finlay takes a first-touch shot on the ball sending it . . .

. . . into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. This is a well-designed play by Adrian Heath and his technical staff. The setup involves changing the point of attack and using a screen to get Kallman free on the back post. Even though Metanire’s pass is over-hit, it gives Kallman a chance to head the ball back into the penalty box where three Minnesota players were waiting for a chance on goal. Plays like this rely on defenders watching the ball instead of marking a man and that’s exactly what happened here.
  2. For the second match in a row, Trapp loses focus for a split second and plays a huge part in giving up a goal. The Crew captain has been a vital part of this team for years but the defensive lapses have become glaring. Columbus need their captain to be a leader on both sides of the pitch but his defensive game has been subpar.
  3. Like we mentioned last week, these defensive lapses are mostly mental. If Trapp just stays with Finlay then he’d at least be able to contest this shot. It’s up to the coaching staff to figure out how to keep the team focused for the full 90 minutes of these matches.
  4. After tearing his ACL early in the 2018 season, Ethan Finlay looks fit and ready to contribute for Minnesota. It’s great to see him play well.