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Anatomy of a Goal: Inches away from victory

This week we look at Gyasi Zardes’ near game-winning goal that almost saw the Crew send FC Cincinnati home with a loss.

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 26 of the 2019 MLS Season, we take a look at Gyasi Zardes’ 90th minute goal that sent Columbus to a win over rival FC Cincinnati shot off the crossbar that nearly sent a raucous crowd at MAPFRE Stadium home with a win against in-state rival FC Cincinnati on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the shot from Zardes.

The Crew started out MLS’s first Hell is Real Derby, in front of a sellout home crowd, poorly. Cincinnati scored in a 10-minute span, leaving those in attendance with little to do but wonder whether the boisterous FC Cincy crowd in the top corner of the south end would ever stop singing.

Zardes pulled back a goal on a late first half penalty and Pedro Santos scored a goalazo early in the second half, leaving Columbus with more than 30 minutes to find a winner.

With the match entering the 90th minute, FC Cincinnati took a corner kick right in front of the Nordecke. That is where this chance begins.

Alex Crognale eyes the in-swinger drifting toward New York Red Bull loanee and Cincinnati debutante Derrick Etienne, and jumps in anticipation.

The 6-foot-5 Crognale easily out-jumps the 5-foot-10 Etienne, sending the ball outside the 18-yard box.

Andrew Gutman steps to Crognale’s clearance as Romario Williams heads toward the Cincy left back to provide defensive pressure.

Gutman’s settling touch is too heavy, and the ball bounds into the path of Williams.

Williams picks up the ball before Gutman can recover and must decide whether to play a through pass to David Accam or to try and beat Gutman off the dribble.

Williams decides to take Gutman off the dribble. The striker uses his pace and physicality to send the ball around Gutman and takes off toward the midfield line.

Williams carries toward the midfield with his head up and his eyes focused on his open teammates. Youness Mokhtar cuts toward Williams while Accam continues down the middle of the field.

Williams spots Mokhtar and plays a ball out in front of him, down the sideline. Zardes and Accam both head toward lone FCC defender Caleb Stanko.

Mokhtar carries the ball into the box with no defensive pressure. Zardes and Accam will make complementary runs around Stanko, Accam in front and Zardes behind, to provide Mokhtar with passing options.

Before Gutman can provide defensive pressure, Mokhtar hits a dangerous cross in front of the Cincinnati goal.

Mokhtar’s pass is headed right toward Zardes, who is unmarked near the back post. Kendall Waston chases in recovery, with hopes of preventing Zardes’ shot.

Zardes waits on the ball to arrive at his foot as Waston slides into his path. It is difficult to determine whether Waston is able to deflect either the pass or the subsequent shot, so let’s look at the play in from multiple angles.

From this angle, it appears that Waston’s foot is behind and in the path of the bal. If this is the case, the ball should either deflect off Waston or bounce over his leg.

From behind the goal, it appears that Waston’s foot is not behind the ball but instead on the midfield side of the ball. Still, Waston might slightly deflect the ball toward the goal, changing the ball’s trajectory just enough to throw off Zardes.

A few frames later, this angle appears to show Waston ever so slightly deflect the ball, though the image is too far away to confirm a deflection.

With or without a deflection, the ball ends up right on Zardes’ right foot with no defenders between the Black & Gold striker and the goal.

Zardes hits a shot with Waston continuing to slide. Waston has another chance to deflect the shot.

Zardes gets the shot off, sending the ball up and toward the goal. It does not appear that Waston was able to deflect this shot.

Zardes’ shot is high. The ball will either hit the post or scoot just under and into the goal. Prezemyslaw Tyton dives far under the ball and watches as it . . .

. . . deflects off the post. No goal.


  1. Williams does puts in a lot of leg work on this goal. He intercepts Gutman’s heavy touch, carries the ball toward midfield, and plays Mokhtar into a dangerous attacking position. With just this play, Williams puts in a quality shift as a substitute.
  2. Mokhtar’s pass to Zardes is perfectly timed and weighted. The ball lands right at Zardes’ right foot and should have given Mokhtar his first assist and the Crew a victory.
  3. Zardes did all of the hard work on this play but wasn’t able to score a goal that would have gone down in Columbus history. The striker starts this play, helping defend the corner kick. He then runs all the way down the field and splits Stanko with Accam. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether Waston deflects the ball. It fell right to Zardes and he merely had to tap it in.