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Anatomy of a Goal: Santos smashes in the equalizer

This week we look at Pedro Santos’s 28th minute goal that briefly tied the match against Colorado.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-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 15 of the 2019 MLS Season, we take a look at Pedro Santos’s 28th minute goal that tied the game against the Colorado Rapids before the Crew eventually lost 3-2.

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

While most of the team has struggled to adapt in 2019, Santos has flourished under Caleb Porter’s more free system playing some of his best soccer with the Black & Gold. Santos missed last week’s match against Minnesota United to attend to a family situation in Portugal and his absence was greatly felt in one of the worst Crew performances of the season.

We will pick up on this goal after Niko Hansen makes a run into the Rapids’ defense. Hansen plays a quick drop right back to Federico Higuain.

Higuain quickly turns and drops the ball back to David Guzman.

Guzman lets the ball run in front of him and slides a pass over to central midfield partner Wil Trapp. Left back Hector Jimenez streaks up the left flank in anticipation of a long entry pass.

Trapp spots Jimenez and prepares to hit a pass his way.

Immediately after the goal is scored you can see Tim Howard complaining to the referee. It wasn’t clear why Howard was upset, but my guess is that the goalkeeper thinks Jimenez was offside on Trapp’s entry pass.

From this shot, right after Trapp hits the pass, it looks like Jimenez is onside. The onside line is almost exactly on the 18-yard line and Jimenez is clearly behind that line when the ball is played.

Trapp’s ball is a bit too high for Jimenez to settle, so the left back instead decides to head the ball into the penalty box.

Gyasi Zardes and Higuain are the only two Crew players in the box as Jimenez heads a pass into their vicinity.

Jimenez’s headed pass takes a bounce just behind Zardes but right in the path of Higuain. On his right, Sam Vines cuts in from the defensive left to try to prevent Higuain from an open shot on goal.

The ball takes a long bounce, preventing a clean touch from Higuain.

Vines also misses the ball, instead putting his studs into Higuain’s right leg. Had Santos not scored, Columbus would have a fair shout for a penalty kick with this tackle. Vines comes in high, misses the ball and goes studs first into Higuain.

On the right side of the penalty box, both Santos and Hansen have a chance at the ball with no defenders around.

With Vines and Higuain in a heap near the penalty spot, Santos takes a bead on the rolling ball.

Santos picks up the ball on the attacking right side of the penalty box as the Rapids defense struggles to regroup.

Tommy Smith will slot back into his left center back position while Kellyn Acosta darts toward Santos to attempt to cut off a clean shot on goal.

At this point, Santos has a number of options. He can take a shot on goal from a tough angle, try to beat Acosta off the dribble, play a slotted pass to Zardes, play a pass on the ground to David Accam or kncok a crop pass to Hansen.

Acosta anticipates a shot so Santos does a combination of the first two options; he fakes a shot and continues his dribble toward the middle of the penalty box.

Santos’s touch is a bit heavy, but he reaches the ball in the middle of the box. Again, he has options. He can take a shot on goal, play a through pass to Zardes in a congested area, make a touch pass to Accam, play the same touch pass to Guzman or continue his dribble.

Santos decides to take a shot on goal and only has Smith and Howard to beat (assuming he can avoid clanging the ball off Zardes).

Zardes does his best Neo impression by bending away from Santos’ shot. Howard can do nothing but watch, flat footed, as the ball sails past him . . .

. . . into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. This was a bright spot for Trapp in an otherwise forgettable game. The Crew captain played an excellently timed and weighted pass right to the head of Jimenez.
  2. Jimenez continues to be the ultimate utility man for Columbus. His heads up, pun not intended, play here put the Black & Gold directly in position to score.
  3. It appears that Vines caught Higuain in the leg with his studs. Had Santos not scored this should have been a penalty.
  4. There was an excellent fake shot and goal from Santos. The winger has really come alive in Porter’s more free system.