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Anatomy of a Goal: Santos smashes it home

This week we look at Pedro Santos’s 46th minute goal against the New York Red Bulls.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls Noah K. Murray-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 24 of the 2019 MLS Season, we take a look at Pedro Santos’ 46th minute rocket that put the Crew up 2-1 on the New York Red Bulls as part of their 3-2 win over New York on Saturday.

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

The Black & Gold entered Saturday’s match on a points streak for the first time in months. Red Bull Arena has never been an easy place to play, especially for the Crew, but Columbus came out firing and looking to keep their very dim playoff hopes alive. A Brian White goal off some confusing play by the Black & Gold center backs was quickly answered by Luis Argudo, continuing his strong run of form and securing a tie that would carry into halftime.

The Crew’s second goal in the match begins off an attack from the second half kickoff. White plays a quick drop pass to Daniel Royer as he is marked by Alex Crognale.

Royer taps the ball to Alejandro Romero Gamarra and cuts in for a give-and-go.

Gamarra attempts a back-heel pass into the path of Royer, but misplays the ball.

David Guzman steps up to Gamarra’s mishit pass and hits a looping ball up toward Santos.

Santos turns on the ball and uses a left-footed touch to settle the ball and try to get around Sean Davis. Hector Jimenez recognizes the counter-attack opportunity and cuts toward the left flank.

Davis is able to slide in front of Santos, knocking the ball back toward the Columbus goal.

Jimenez is able to pick up Davis’ tackled ball and finds himself with acres of free space ahead of him.

About 20 yards from midfield, Jimenez surveys the field and sees four options. He can play a long diagonal pass to Gyasi Zardes, a through pass to Santos, a similar through pass to Argudo or continue to carry the ball forward.

Jimenez decides to let the ball do all the work and hits a pass to Argudo. Michael Murillo, seeing that he is beaten by Argudo, will attempt to cut off the pass before it reaches the Black & Gold’s winger. If Jimenez plays a flat, straight-line pass, Murillo will have a shot at intercepting the ball.

The above video shows Jimenez’s inch-perfect curling pass to Argudo. Jimenez, a naturally right-footed player, hits a looping pass with his left foot that curls around Murillo and Argudo and settles into open space for the Crew attacker to run onto.

In the still frame, you can see how tough Jimenez’s pass was to make. The ball had to travel between Murillo and the out-of-bounds line and does so perfectly.

Argudo lets the ball bounce and run in front of him, sending him toward the Red Bull goal.

With the ball at his feet, Argudo heads toward the goal. New York center back Tim Parker is stuck between Argudo and Santos, and must decide which Columbus attacker to mark as the counter attack speeds onward.

Parker commits to Argudo and will try to keep the winger from running into the penalty box. This decision leaves Santos free to run into the 18-yard box. If Argudo is able to find Santos, the Portuguese attacker should have a chance at a shot on goal.

Argudo carries the ball to the edge of the penalty box as he is met by Parker. Santos trails the play and is in a totally open position at the top of the 18-yard box.

Argudo approaches Parker and must decide whether to try and beat Parker off the dribble or whether to slide a pass toward a wide-open Santos.

As the video above shows, it ends up being a little bit of both. Argudo attempts to beat Parker off the dribble and gets lucky as a clumsy touch heads right toward Santos.

Again, Argudo’s dribble attempt results in an accidental but excellent pass to Santos who will be able to carry the ball toward the goal or immediately fire in a shot on goal.

Santos doesn’t hesitate and immediately smashes a shot right at Luis Robles.

Robles guesses wrong and can only toss up his right hand as he watches the ball speed past him . . .

. . . into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. The Crew was set up to attack directly against New York, avoiding much of the high press that the Red Bulls love to employ. It worked very well with all three goals coming on direct attacking or counter-attacking sequences.
  2. Jimenez’s pass to Argudo was a work of art. Yet again, Jimenez has been Columbus’ Swiss Army Knife, continuing to be one of the most valuable players on the team.
  3. Argudo tried to do a bit too much on this play. He should have hit an earlier pass to Santos instead of trying to take Parker off the dribble. Luckily, it doesn’t matter as his heavy step-over rolls right toward Santos.
  4. Santos took his shot with pace and confidence that hasn’t been seen before this season.