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Anatomy of a Goal: Fredy Montero snatches a draw

This week, we look at Fredy Montero’s last second goal that grabbed a draw from Columbus on Saturday.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-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 32 of the 2019 MLS Season, we take a look at Fredy Montero’s 93rd minute header that tied the match and sent the Crew back to Columbus with a disappointing draw.

Here’s a look at the goal from the Vancouver Whitecaps’ attacker.

The Black & Gold traveled to Vancouver in need of a win to keep their playoff hopes impossibly alive for another week. Despite dominating play and making nearly 100 more passes than Vancouver, the Crew was once again unable to put the ball in the back of the net enough and clung to a one-goal lead with 15 seconds remaining in stoppage time.

The Whitecaps’ goal begins on a Columbus turnover.

Left back Connor Maloney deftly beats a few Vancouver defenders and plays a pass forward to Gyasi Zardes, in hopes that the target striker can keep the ball long enough to see out the match.

Doneil Henry bodies up Zardes who tries to flick the ball toward Luis Argudo.

Zardes and Henry go down in a heap with Zardes having a compelling claim for a foul. Jake Nerwinski picks up Zardes’ attempted pass and looks to set off a Whitecap attack with only a few seconds remaining.

Nerwinski quickly plays the ball back to Derek Cornelius, wasting precious time in his effort to set up the attack.

Cornelius hits a long ball up field toward Michaell Chirinos.

The Black & Gold’s defensive line has dropped back, leaving Chirinos with ample space to receive the long pass and review his options.

Hwang In-Beom runs up the middle of the field while Ali Adnan runs up the left flank.

Chirinos collects the ball and quickly slides a pass over to In-Beom while Adnan continues his wide run.

In-Beom collects the ball and has multiple options in what should be Vancouver’s final attack of the match. He can play a long diagonal to Yordy Reyna, make a soft pass forward to Montero, send the ball over the top toward Andy Rose, slide a wide, diagonal ball over to Adnan or carry the ball forward.

In-Beom sends the ball diagonally toward Adnan as the clock crosses past the final minute of stoppage time.

Adnan receives In-Beom’s pass and carries the ball toward the end line under defensive pressure from Harrison Afful. Montero drifts into the penalty box with Maloney giving watch.

Adnan continues toward the end line and must decide whether to cross the ball into the penalty box or to try and beat Afful on the dribble and carry the ball toward the goal. If either choice is unsuccessful, the game is likely over.

Adnan hits the ball into the box toward a host of Whitecaps defended by multiple Crew players. Maloney still has an eye on Montero though the Vancouver attacker is at least three inches taller than the Columbus’ diminutive defender.

Adnan’s cross gets around Afful and drifts toward the back of the six-yard box. Montero tracks the ball’s flight and drifts toward the box’s back corner.

As the ball approaches, Montero and Maloney both take aim and prepare to jump toward the ball. Again, Montero is at least three inches taller than Maloney.

Maloney lets Montero in front of him as the ball drifts toward them. If Montero has timed his jump correctly, he’ll have a clean chance to head the ball toward the goal.

With Maloney behind him, Montero heads the ball toward Eloy Room and the Black & Gold’s goal. Rose sits on the back post to clean up any loose chances.

Montero heads the ball high and toward the back post. Room watches the ball but has already stepped toward the near post.

With Room having stepped toward the near post he can only watch as the ball floats past him . . .

. . . and into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Zardes certainly has a fair call for a foul by Henry on the play that springs this attack. It appears that Henry takes down the striker from behind. The play wasn’t whistled and the Video Assistant Referee was not used likely because the play was a judgment call by the referee.
  2. Columbus plays soft defense on this play but that is expected in the closing seconds of a match. It’s never a good idea to give up a close free kick in the dwindling minutes of a game and staying an extra yard off of the man on the ball helps prevent that. Still, a more aggressive defense might have been able to secure a win.
  3. It is hard to tell what Maloney was doing on the header. He puts a hand into Montero’s back from behind but should have at least attempted to position himself between Montero and the goal.
  4. Inexplicably, the Crew can still make the playoffs. It will more or less require winning out and having the teams ahead of them lose out, but they’re still in contention for a playoff spot with two weeks left. A win here, and a win in two other recent late draws (against the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC) would have put the Black & Gold on 41 points and ahead of the New England Revolution on goal differential for the final playoff spot.