Welcome to the Anatomy of a Goal, where each week we dissect one goal (or near goal) from a previous Columbus Crew match.
Here is a look at the goal from Columbus’s winger.
Columbus welcomed the Whitecaps to Lower.com Field for a chilly, February season-opener. Forward Miguel Berry was given a surprise start over Gyasi Zardes and made good on that decision by scoring a deflected goal in the eighth minute to give the Crew an early lead. The Black & Gold maintained possession and an attacking edge leading up to Etienne’s game-icing goal.
The Crew’s next goal begins with a long, direct, pass lofted toward Etienne. The winger battles with Tristan Blackmon to win the ball.
Blackmon wins the headed ball but sends his attempt right toward Artur in the middle of the pitch.
Artur carries the ball toward the sideline where he is met by two Vancouver defenders. The Brazilian midfielder, returning to the field after a nearly year-long injury layoff, deftly carries the ball through the defense and turns back toward left back Pedro Santos.
Artur shakes off the pressure and drops the ball to Santos.
Santos carries the ball back toward the midfield where he has three options as he approaches Deiber Caicedo. He can continue to carry the ball toward the goal play a long diagonal pass to center back Jonathan Mensah or hit a quick square pass to midfielder Darlington Nagbe.
Santos picks out Nagbe and hits a difficult square pass right to the midfielder.
As they have throughout head coach Caleb Porter’s tenure, the Crew center backs split wide in possession to allow one of the holding midfielders to drop in the space between them. Artur and Nagbe’s ability to switch in and out of this spot, traditionally referred to as the double pivot, allows the other to push forward and was a key feature of the 2020 MLS Cup championship team.
Most teams that run a similar formation drop a midfielder into this spot but few are able to have two holding midfielders who can play in this role and can also be a ball-carrying No. 8. That lack of flexibility was on display in 2021 during Artur and Aidan Morris’s absence, and the improvement in Artur’s return was immediately noticeable.
Nagbe turns to the other side of the field and quickly finds Mensah.
Right back Steven Moreira drops back and receives a quick pass from Mensah.
Moreira carries the ball a few yards forward before quickly dropping back to Mensah.
Notice in this image that Nagbe has shifted up the field, moving from his previous spot as No. 6 to a spot further as a No. 8, while Artur has dropped from his spot back closer to the backline. This midfield flexibility comes into play even in single possessions.
Mensah resets the possession and quickly plays a square pass to his new center back partner Milos Degenek. Degenek looks to his left and spots Santos dropping into position on the left sideline.
Degenek turns to his left and quickly plays the ball up to Santos.
Santos doesn’t see a path forward so he drops the ball back to Artur.
Artur collects the ball and switches the play back to Mensah.
The Whitecaps defense quickly shifted to the Black & Gold’s left side, opening up Moreira for a quick pass on the sideline.
Moreira sees space ahead of him and quickly carries the ball toward midfield. Crew debutant Yaw Yeboah waits for a pass a dozen yards past the midfield line.
Moreira sees Yeboah standing unmarked and quickly hits a pass to the winger.
Yeboah turns the ball up the field while Moreira makes an overlapping run up the right sideline.
Yeboah picks up his head and sees six options. He can play a pass forward to playmaker Lucas Zelarayan, hit a quick ball up the sideline to an overlapping Moreira, play a through pass to Berry, hit a long cross to Etienne, carry the ball forward or try a square pass to Nagbe.
Etienne raises his hand and darts toward the goal. Yeboah hits an inch-perfect pass into the goal box toward Etienne.
Etienne beats the Vancouver defense and brings the ball down in the box.
Columbus’ left winger brings down the ball and takes a touch toward the goal.
Etienne isn’t able to get the ball onto his left foot so he takes his shot using the outside of his right foot. This sends the ball spinning away from goalkeeper Thomas Hasal toward the far post.
Hasal can only watch as the ball slices past him...
...into the back of the net!
- Artur brings much-needed positional flexibility back to the team.
- The Black & Gold showed patience on this play, cycling the ball back to the center backs before finding the right pass.
- Yeboah makes an immediate impact on his debut, hitting a long cross right to the feet of Etienne.
- Etienne hits a difficult shot well, using the outside of his right foot to send the ball spinning away from Hasal.