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Anatomy of a Goal: Berry evens Hell is Real

This week we look at Miguel Berry’s match-tying goal against FC Cincinnati.

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Columbus Crew SC USA TODAY Sports via IMAGN Content

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 22 2021 MLS Season, the first Hell is Real Derby at Lower.com Field, we take a look at Miguel Berry’s 81st minute match-tying goal that set the Crew on the path to victory against FC Cincinnati.

Here’s a look at the goal from the Black & Gold’s young striker.

The Crew took the Lower.com Field pitch, for the first time against the team’s in-state rivals, starting the game on a six-match losing streak. FC Cincy carried the team’s own winless streak into the match, setting ESPN up for a potentially rough mgame between two struggling teams. Columbus brought pressure early and was unlucky not to score from an open-goal shot by Luis Diaz early in the first half and a Lucas Zelarayan chip off the post.

Near the end of the first half, the Black & Gold struck first with yet another Zelarayan free kick goal. Cincinnati responded with the team’s own wonder goal a few minutes later and the Ohio rivals took a draw to halftime.

Berry’s first goal of the night begins just six minutes after FC Cincinnati took the lead on an Isaac Atanga goal.

Following FC Cincy’s goal, head coach Caleb Porter brought winger Alexandru Matan in for Liam Fraser and center back Aboubacar Keita in for Vito Wormgoor. During the hydration break, the Crew dropped Nagbe into a deeper role to allow Matan to push forward. Berry was instructed to press aggressively and to crash the goal on every shot. Cincinnati’s goalkeeper, Kenneth Vermeer, had played well thus far but had spilled multiple saves out in front of him. Columbus was unlucky not to have pounced on a rebound earlier and the coaching staff knew that at least one more chance would come.

The match leveler starts with goalkeeper Eloy Room picking up the ball and playing a pass to center back Jonathan Mensah. Mensah then played the ball forward to Nagbe.

Nagbe carries the ball a few yards forward before playing a pass up the sideline to left back Waylon Francis.

Francis receives the ball at midfield with four options. He can play a pass forward to Matan, carry the ball across midfield, hit a square pass to Zelarayan or play a drop pass to Keita.

Francis plays a quick pass to Zelarayan and takes off down the field.

Zelarayan moves to the attacking half and finds himself with three defenders and can knock a pass back up the sideline to Francis, play a quick ball forward to Matan, carry the ball at the FC Cincinnati defense, try a diagonal pass to Pedro Santos or play a drop ball to Nagbe.

Zelarayan plays the ball forward to Matan who has found some space between the Cincinnati lines.

Matan picks up the ball and turns toward the FC Cincy goal. Santos makes an unmarked supporting run just to the right of Matan.

Matan spots Santos and hits a pass just around Allan Cruz to the Portuguese winger.

The FC Cincinnati defense was drawn toward the interplay of Francis, Zelarayan and Matan near the sideline. This left space for Santos to receive the ball and dribble directly toward the goal. Berry eyes Santos and makes a run behind USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron. Derrick Etienne grabs the attention of Gustavo Vallecilla leaving Ronald Matarrita to decide whether to step to Santos or to hold his line while right back Harrison Afful makes his own run just to the right of this image.

Cameron shifts toward Etienne leaving Vallecilla to step to Santos. Fortunately, this leaves Berry unmarked.

Santos approaches the top of the goal box and has five options. He can play a through pass to Berry, take a shot on goal, continue to carry the ball forward, attempt a tough pass around Vallecilla to Etienne or try a diagonal pass to Afful.

Santos likes his chances and takes a shot from about 22 yards out.

The shot just misses Cameron and Etienne and heads toward Vermeer.

Vermeer takes a bead on the ball and should have a clean opportunity to catch the shot. Berry and Etienne both barrel forward, ready to pounce if Vermeer once again bobbles the ball.

Vermeer is in position and the ball falls right between his arms in what should be an easy catch.

But, as he did all night, Vermeer is unable to handle the ball cleanly. The ball takes a bounce right off Vermeer’s chest and bounds toward Berry and Etienne.

Berry beats everyone to the ball and has one chance to get off a shot on goal.

The young forward is able to get onto the end of the bobbled ball and sends a shot toward the FC Cincy goal.

The ball just passes over Vermeer...

... into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. As Patrick Guldan noted, the Black & Gold made the most of their hydration break. Porter shifted the formation into a full attack and reminded his attackers to pounce on every shot.
  2. The combo play by Francis, Zelarayan and Matan directly sets up this goal. The Crew had the outside backs hug the touchline for much of the match which stretched Cincinnati thin. This pulled FC Cincy toward Francis, as well as Zelarayan and Matan, and kept Matarrita from stepping to Santos.
  3. Santos’ shot was optimistic, but he had certainly seen Vermeer spill out saves all night.
  4. Berry and Etienne both deserve credit for crashing the goal on this play. Again (and again just two minutes later) Berry punishes FC Cincinnati.