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Anatomy of a Goal: New York City FC finds the net on a counter attack

This week we look at Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s goal that gave NYCFC a lead against the Crew.

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

Welcome to the Anatomy of a Goal, where each week we dissect one goal (or near goal) from a previous Columbus Crew match.

For match six of the 2021 MLS season, we take a look at Ismael Tajouri-Shradi’s 18th minute goal that gave New York City FC a lead against the Crew on Saturday.

Here is a look at the goal from NYCFC’s attacking midfielder.

Columbus traveled to Harrison, New Jersey to face NYCFC in the team’s last same-day away trip of the season. The Black & Gold entered the match still without winger Kevin Molino and regular left back Milton Valenzuela, but otherwise were able to put out a first-choice lineup following a congested fixture schedule. The Crew entered Saturday’s match on a nearly two-year road winless streak with their last road win coming in September of 2019 in Atlanta.

Tajouri-Shradi’s goal begins with some possession-based play by Columbus. Center back and captain Jonathan Mensah plays a long pass forward to Lucas Zelarayan.

Zelarayan tracks back to the ball and hits a quick first-touch pass back to Artur.

Artur collects the ball and plays it right back to Zelarayan.

Zelarayan turns toward the sideline and finds Harrison Afful (25) on the right flank. Artur cuts into the space in the middle of NYCFC’s defensive pressure.

Afful spots Artur and hits a quick pass forward to the Brazilian midfielder.

Artur quickly drops the ball back to Afful while Zelarayan shifts into position for a square pass.

Afful receives the pass under heavy pressure from Nicolas Acevedo. Artur shifts toward the sideline while Zelarayan is just square of Afful. Neither pass will be easy under Acevedo’s pressure.

Afful maintains possession and turns the ball back toward his defensive half. Mensah and Darlington Nagbe are both in position to receive a safety-valve pass from Afful.

Afful approaches the sideline and has three options. He can play a simple diagonal to Nagbe, a drop pass to Mensah or continue to carry the ball toward the midfield line.

Afful decides to hit a ball toward Nagbe with his left foot. Unfortunately, Afful doesn’t get any pace on the ball. Keaton Parks sees the under-hit pass and immediately jumps into the passing lane. Valentin Castellanos (11) identifies the counter-attacking opportunity and shifts toward the midfield line.

Parks hits a first-touch pass out in front of Castellanos who has no one between him and the goal. Note that while Castellanos may be ahead of the last defender when the ball is played, he is in his own half and a player can’t be offside in your his own half.

Castellanos reaches the ball and carries toward the Black & Gold’s goal. Like a defensive back in American football, Nagbe takes an angled defensive run toward a path in front of Castellanos.

Nagbe gets out in front of Castellanos, leaving the winger with three options. He can play a quick pass over Josh Williams into the path of Jesus Medina (19), attempt to beat Nagbe off the dribble or take a difficult shot on goal.

Castellanos decides to take a shot on goal but is unable to get the shot past Nagbe.

The deflected shot falls right back to Castellanos. Tajori-Shradi (12) sprints right toward the center of the goal box with Artur giving chase.

Castellanos spies Tajouri-Shradi and hits an outside-the-foot pass out in front of the striker.

Artur attempts to make a tackle but is unable to beat Tajouri-Shradi to the ball.

Tajouri-Shradi beats Artur to the ball and hits a low, first-touch shot toward the corner of Eloy Room’s goal.

The ball makes it past the Crew defense with only Room to beat before the goal.

Room dives at the ball and is just able to get a touch on the ball. However, the ball bounces off Room’s hand...

. . . into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Columbus starts off with a strong possessive move. Zelarayan, Artur and Afful make smart, quick passes that are all undone with Afful’s very weak pass toward Nagbe.
  2. Parks and Castellanos do an excellent job of setting off the counter attack. Parks hits a very good first-touch pass into space that Castellanos is able to run onto.
  3. Nagbe does well to beat Castellanos down the field and deflect his shot.
  4. Artur attempts to get in front of Tajouri-Shradi but is a hair too slow to get in front of the striker.
  5. Room could be faulted for getting a late reaction to the shot, but the ball moves through traffic and the Black & Gold’s keeper is still able to get a touch on the ball. Tajouri-Shradi plays the ball into the one place that Room can’t reach.
  6. Fortunately, this goal would be rendered moot by two brilliant Zelarayan free kicks in the second half.