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Anatomy of a Goal: Darlington Nagbe secures a Crew draw in the dying moments

This week we look at Nagbe’s last-second goal against New York Red Bulls.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls 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 four of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Darlington Nagbe’s 95th minute goal that secured a road point for the Crew at New York Red Bulls.

Here is a look at the last-second goal by Nagbe.

Columbus weathered the Red Bulls’ press during the first half and took a 0-0 draw into the break. The Black & Gold controlled much of the possession in the second half and should have scored two goals, one on a Gyasi Zardes near tap in and another on a Derrick Etienne Jr. breakaway, but saw both chances end up wide of the goal. New York capitalized on the Crew’s missed chances and grabbed a lead in the 84th minute off yet another set piece goal given up by Columbus in this young season.

Nagbe’s match-tying goal begins with the center back Milos Degenek in possession of the ball deep in the Black & Gold defensive half with fewer than 30 seconds left in the match.

Degenek looks to clear the ball out of danger and hits a slow-moving square pass toward goalkeeper Eloy Room. RBNY sub Ashley Fletcher spots the soft pass and springs around Jonathan Mensah into the path of the ball.

Room comes out to meet Fletcher leaving Mensah to shift toward the goal. Central midfielder James Igbekeme runs directly at Fletcher to provide defensive support.

Room backs off as Fletcher takes a few touches away from the goal before turning around. Igbekeme continues his defensive run toward the ball while New York’s Tom Barlow moves toward the middle of the goal box to provide a passing option.

Fletcher stays on the ball while Degenek recovers to his goal-side, Igbekeme reaches the ball, and left back Pedro Santos steps forward defensively. Igbekeme is able to dispossess Fletcher and taps the ball toward Santos.

Santos picks up the ball, turns up the field toward Alexandru Matan and quickly hits a pass forward to the young winger.

Matan receives the ball, turns and is met with a sliding tackle attempt by Omir Fernandez.

Matan beats Fernandez and continues up the field.

Matan continues to carry the ball toward midfield where he spots Zardes and plays a quick pass toward the striker.

Zardes takes a touch to collect the ball and surveys his three options. He can carry the ball forward, play a quick diagonal pass up the sideline to winger Luis Diaz or play drop the ball back to Nagbe.

Matan continues his run forward.

Zardes uses his next touch to hit a quick diagonal pass to Diaz. The Costa Rican carries forward toward John Tolkin who is left to defend the speedy winger by himself.

Diaz sets off in the attack as Tolkin sprints back to provide coverage. The remaining Crew attackers continue their runs downfield, all heading toward the center of the six-yard box.

Tolkin is able to stay in front of Diaz leaving the Costa Rican with four options when he reaches the top of the goal box. He can play a quick pass forward to an in-motion right back Steven Moreira, attempt to beat Tolkin off the dribble, play a pass into the path of Nagbe or attempt a difficult ball forward to Zardes.

Diaz finds Moreira and Columbus have one last shot at grabbing a draw.

Moreira prepares to make his first touch and finds himself with four options: a drop pass back to Diaz, cut the ball inside to open up a left-footed shot, a touch pass into the path of Nagbe or a cross toward Zardes and Matan.

The right-back hits toward the top of the six-yard box

Moreira’s cross is just behind Zardes but both Matan and Nagbe are in position to get a touch on the ball.

Matan meets the ball and tees up a quick shot on goal.

Tom Edwards lunges at the ball and is able to deflect Matan’s shot with his trailing leg.

A scramble for the ball ensues but Nagbe is in the best position to reach the deflected shot.

RBNY goalkeeper Carlos Coronel dives toward the ball while Nagbe just gets a touch to tap the ball toward the goalline.

Coronel is inches short and the ball rolls forward...

...into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. Degenek played another strong match, but his initial pass was a near-match-ending mistake. Fortunately, Fletcher preferred to hold onto the ball rather than take a shot on goal.
  2. All four Black & Gold substitutes played a part in this goal. Igbekeme won the ball from Fletcher, Matan took the ball from the defense forward, Zardes transitioned the ball from the left of the field to the right and Diaz played the pass before the pass.
  3. Moreira plays a good cross but gets a bit lucky to find Nagbe and Matan.
  4. Nagbe runs the full length of the field and secures a vital road point for the Crew.