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Anatomy of a Goal: Santos slots it home

This week we look at Pedro Santos’ perfectly placed goal.

MLS: New York City FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-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 16 of the 2019 MLS Season, we take a look at Pedro Santos’s 61st minute goal that briefly gave the Crew the lead against New York City FC before eventually drawing 1-1.

Here’s a look at the goal from Columbus’s attacking-midfielder.

With the news that Federico Higuain would miss the remainder of 2019 with a torn ACL, Black & Gold supporters wondered who would step into his attacking midfield slot and whether there would be a formation change. Caleb Porter deployed Santos in that attacking slot but kept the same 4-2-3-1 lineup that the Crew have used for multiple years... at least on paper. In reality, Santos played all over the field, joining what was more of an attacking three playing in a 4-3-3.

Deployed with more freedom, Santos did much more dribbling in space up the middle of the field and played one of his better games in Columbus.

Santos’ goal begins with a NYCFC goal kick. Sean Johnson plays a quick pass to James Sands on left side of the goal box. Santos provides high pressure on the City center back.

With Santos giving pressure, Sands hits a long pass up the field to Ebenezer Ofori.

David Guzman closes down Ofori while Robinho sprints back into a defensive position.

Ofori gets a pass off to Alexandru Mitrita just before Guzman can force a turnover.

Mitrita plays a long, first-touch pass up the middle of the field toward his striker Heber.

Mitrita’s pass doesn’t reach Heber in the air, providing time for Jonathan Mensah to read the pass and attempt to beat Heber to the ball.

Jonathan just beats Heber and sends a clearance down the field toward Gyasi Zardes.

Jonathan’s clearance falls far short of Zardes. NYCFC captain Alexander Ring gets on the end of the clearance and plays a one-touch pass up toward Maxi Moralez.

Ring’s pass also falls short, forcing Moralez to come back toward the ball. Black & Gold winger David Accam sprints toward the short pass while Moralez is forced to slide into the path of the ball.

Moralez slides as Accam reaches the ball. The Crew winger beats out his City counterpart and re-starts the attack.

Accam heads toward the goal flanked by Zardes. Ring scrambles toward Accam to attempt to close down the winger’s counter attack.

Ring steps into position leaving Accam with two options: attempt to beat Ring off the dribble or play a through pass to Zardes.

In the video above, you can see that Accam decides to try to beat Ring off the dribble. Accam, knowing he’s quicker than Ring, taps the ball out ahead of Ring and easy speeds by the New York midfielder.

Accam speeds by Ring and has yards of space before he reaches the next defender.

Accam approaches the goal box with Ring bearing down. He can here either play a through pass to Zardes, continue his dribble toward the goal or make a diagonal pass to Santos who is unmarked and running into the penalty box.

Accam slots a perfectly weighted pass toward Santos, sending his teammate in on goal.

As the ball approaches Santos, he must decide whether to fire in a first-touch shot on goal or to carry the ball closer to the goal.

Santos decides to hit a first-touch shot toward the far post with his, preferred, left foot.

Johnson has much of the goal covered and is able to get down in time to get a hand near Santos’ shot.

City’s goalkeeper stretches and gets his right hand on to the ball.

However, the ball takes a small deflection, and bounces over Johnson’s hand.

The NYC defense can only watch as their keeper’s excellent attempt fails and the ball bounces off of his hand . . .

. . . and into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. Defensive pressure in all areas of the field was the key to this goal. Santos, Guzman, Jonathan and Accam all force NYCFC players into quick decisions, ultimately resulting in a turnover that leads to the Crew goal.
  2. Accam showed how valuable he can be in this play. The speedy winger uses his pace to get around Ring and then plays a perfect pass to Santos.
  3. Santos had an effective match that was capped off by this goal. It appears that Santos will bear the brunt of the creative effort moving forward, and though his passing was less effective than expected, the future of this season might be less bleak than initially expected.