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Anatomy of a Goal: Ring sends the Crew to first defeat of 2020 MLS Season

This week we look at Alexander Ring’s game-winning goal that sent the Crew to their first loss of the season.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back 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 seven of the 2020 MLS Season, we take a look at Alexander Ring’s 59th minute goal for New York City FC that gave City a 1-0 lead and send the Crew to their first loss of the 2020 campaign.

Here is a look at the goal from NYC FC’s captain.

Columbus entered Monday’s match against NYCFC on a six-match unbeaten streak to start the season. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the Black & Gold flew into New Jersey on match day and their sluggish legs through much of this match showed just how difficult getting a result on the road will be during this phase of the MLS season.

The Crew was once again without offensive fulcrum Lucas Zelarayan, and the offense continued to struggle without the Argentine playmaker. Offensive timing issues further plagued Columbus with three goals correctly called back as offside.

Ring’s game-winner directly follows a substitution and tactical change for the Black & Gold. Following a foul on Luis Diaz, Artur entered the match for the Costa Rican winger sending Darlington Nagbe up to the No. 10 spot and Pedro Santos out to the wing as the team finished the match against Chicago last week. Emmanuel Boateng entered for Derrick Etienne in a more like-for-like substitution.

Jonathan Mensah lines up the free kick after the substitutions are complete. He has the option to hit a pass to almost every Crew player on the field.

Mensah, keeping with the Caleb Porter system, plays a pass across Heber toward Aboubacar Keita. Heber then drops back toward the midfield. Hector Jimenez will provide a wide option to Keita and Sebastian Berhalter will also drift further toward the sideline bringing Ring’s defensive presence with him. Artur sticks further up the field.

Keita picks up the ball and has four immediate options. He can play a pass up the sideline to Jimenez, carry the ball forward, play a short pass to Berhalter or play a pass back to Mensah.

Keita takes a step sideways and spots Mensah heading back toward the 18-yard box. Ring has left Berhalter and is cutting toward Keita to apply a defensive press. Heber puts on the breaks and cuts back toward the passing lane between the two Columbus center backs.

Mensah notices Heber cutting back and points toward the box for a deeper pass from Keita.

Keita hits the pass toward the spot that Mensah has vacated as the captain points back to the penalty box. Heber sprints into the path of the ball.

Mensah realizes the ball was played behind him and without enough pace and plants hard to try to recover. Keita realizes that he has mishit the pass and sprints toward the middle of the field while Heber attempts to intercept the errant pass.

Heber gets near the ball the ball with Black & Gold defenders between him and goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell.

From behind the goal we can see just how close this pass was to missing Heber. The NYCFC striker has to stretch out his left foot to get on the end of the pass.

Unfortunately, Heber is able to intercept Keita’s pass and carries the ball into the Columbus goal box. Ring sprints in behind Keita, forcing the Homegrown defender to decide whether to cut off Heber’s angle to the back post or whether to track Ring’s run into the penalty box.

Keita cuts off Heber’s angle to the back post leaving Ring to run free in behind. Heber now finds himself with the option to take a shot on goal or to slide a quick pass over to a wide open Ring.

Heber makes the safer choice and plays a simple square pass to Ring.

Ring tees up a first touch shot on goal as Keita and Tarbell scramble back toward the New York City captain.

Ring fires in a left-footed shot as Tarbell attempts to dive in front of the ball.

Tarbell has too much ground to make up as the ball sails past him . . .

. . . and into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Either Berhalter or Artur had to do a better job to show for Keita. Berhalter over commits toward the sideline allowing Ring to apply defensive pressure on Keita and occupy the passing lane between Berhalter and Keita. Artur should have tracked back into the space vacated by Berhalter.
  2. Mensah recognized Heber stepping toward the passing lane and called for a pass back toward the goal box, but Keita either mishit the pass or played the ball back to where he thought Mensah would be.
  3. Columbus has not made many mistakes on defense this season, but this is one they will wish they had back.