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Anatomy of a Goal: Berry brings the late game heroics again

This week we take a look at yet another late-game winner from Miguel Berry.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

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

For match 25 of the 2021 MLS Season, we take a look at Miguel Berry’s 88th minute goal against the New York Red Bulls that gave the Crew a 2-1, come-from-behind, win.

Here’s a look at yet another game-winning goal from Berry.

Columbus returned to Lower.com Field after a disappointing loss at Inter Miami on Saturday and in desperate need of a win at home. New York sat four points behind the Black & Gold, with only their games in hand keeping their slim MLS Cup playoff hopes alive.

The Crew started the match well but once again struggled to create meaningful chances and the team trailed 1-0 at the half. Columbus regrouped in the second half and came out on the front foot. Darlington Nagbe put away an Alexandru Matan rebound in the 74th minute, setting the stage for some late-match heroics.

Berry’s game-winner begins with a free kick just across midfield. Center back Jonathan Mensah plays a long, direct pass toward forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Wright-Phillips is pressured by defender Andrew Gutman and is unable to collect Mensah’s pass.

Wright-Phillips’s heavy touch bounces out toward midfielder John Tolkin, who sets the Red Bulls off on the counter attack.

Tolkin carries the ball a few yards further before spotting Tom Barlow and firing a long pass out in front of the substitute striker.

Barlow lets the ball run out in front of him and carries on toward the Black & Gold goal. Midfielder Liam Fraser is ahead of Barlow and in a good position to provide supplemental defensive cover while Mensah tracks back.

Barlow and Fraser meet in front of the 18-yard box leaving the New York attacker to choose between a through pass to Fabio or attempting to beat Fraser on the dribble.

Barlow cuts in on Fraser who drops off as Mensah recovers. Both defenders leave Fabio to run free. Fabio is offside but would easily be able to recover in a dangerous position.

Mensah forces Barlow to the center of the box where the New York striker attacker decides to take a shot on goal.

Barlow winds up but dramatically mishits the shot sending the ball rolling toward fullback Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Barlow and the Red Bulls shout for a foul but referee Jair Marrufo is in a position to see that Barlow’s shot, not Mensah’s contact, was at fault. Abdul-Salaam easily recovers the scuffed shot and plays a quick pass forward to Matan.

Matan turns with the ball and sets off on a Crew counter attack. Right back Harrison Afful, still up field from the previous possession, dashes forward to provide a wide option for Matan.

Matan spots Afful and slots a pass his way. Berry makes a smart run between Afful and Gutman, just to the right of the image. By running in front of Gutman, Berry forces the defender to choose whether to stick with him or to step toward Afful.

Berry continues forward as the ball approaches Afful. The Ghanian must decide whether to play a first-touch pass in front of Berry or to carry the ball forward.

Afful uses his first touch to redirect the ball into the path of Berry, who is easily able to beat Gutman.

Berry sets off toward the goal line with Wright-Phillips and playmaker Lucas Zelarayan making their own attacking runs.

Berry continues forward, yards in front of Gutman, while Wright-Phillips and Zelarayan continue apace. The Red Bulls are occupied with Berry and Wright-Phillips, leaving Zelarayan to run free.

Berry nears the goal box and has three options. He can play a difficult field-switching pass to Zelarayan, try a through pass to a potentially offside Wright-Phillips or continue to carry the ball forward.

Berry spots Zelarayan and plays a well-weighted pass toward Columbus’ No. 10.

Zelarayan slows and is easily able to receive the pass.

The New York defense scrambles to recover leaving Zelarayan with five options. He can attempt to beat Andres Reyes on the dribble, try a difficult shot on goal, play a through pass to a still potentially offside Wright-Phillips, switch the ball back to Berry or play a square pass into the path of Afful.

Zelarayan decides to have a shot and fires one in at Carlos Miguel Coronel’s goal.

Coronel is in a position to stop the ball from curling in on the back post but parries the ball back into the mix.

As he did against Cincinnati, Berry crashed the goal and is in a position to receive Coronel’s parry.

Gutman slides over to Berry who has four options: a quick shot on goal, a square pass to Wright-Phillips, cutting the ball around Gutman or a lay-off into the path of Afful.

Berry times his touch perfectly and cuts the ball to his left and around Gutman.

The ball rolls right in front of Berry who tees up a quick shot on his left foot.

Sean Nealis lunges toward the ball but isn’t able to get a touch onto Berry’s shot.

Coronel and the rest of the Red Bulls can only watch as the ball travels through his legs...

...into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. As well as the Black & Gold played during this sequence, New York had an excellent chance to score on the other end. Barlow, fortunately, scuffed his shot and Fabio tailed off from the play to provide the Crew with an opportunity to counter attack.
  2. Time dwindled here but Matan showed how valuable he can be as a ball-carrying asset.
  3. Afful’s clever flick combines with Berry’s intelligent run to set Columbus off toward the goal.
  4. Berry’s cross-field pass to Zelarayan is both a selfless and intelligent pass, not to mention difficult.
  5. Just like August’s Hell is Real Derby, Berry’s goal-crashing provides the Black & Gold with a much-needed win.