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Anatomy of a Goal: Zelarayan levels vs. San Jose Earthquakes with a world-class strike

This week we look at Lucas Zelarayan’s match-tying golazo against the Earthquakes.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-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 two of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Lucas Zelarayan’s 40th minute goal that tied the match en-route to a 3-3 draw at the San Jose Earthquakes.

Here is a look at the goal from Columbus’ No. 10.

The Black & Gold took the road for the first time in 2022 at the home of a second straight Western Conference opponent. San Jose was the benefit of a questionable VAR review and penalty kick early in the match when Milos Degenek was retroactively punished for minimal contact on Earthquakes winger Paul Marie followed by a successful Cristian Espinoza penalty. The Crew battled back and won the team’s own VAR decision when Jamiro Monteiro was shown a retroactive red card for a high boot to Darlington Nagbe, leaving San Jose with 10 men for the remainder of the match.

Zelzaryan’s goal begins with a throw-in deep in Earthquake territory following a long spell of possession by Columbus.

Right back Steven Moreira takes the throw and finds captain Jonathan Mensah.

Mensah turns the ball and carries possession back into the Black & Gold’s defensive half. He turns to find Degenek in the middle of the field.

Degenek carries the ball back across midfield and plays a pass forward to Zelarayan.

Zelarayan feels defensive pressure and quickly drops a pass back to Degenek.

Degenek switches the ball back to Mensah, resetting the possession.

With a lead, playing a man down, and fewer than 10 minutes left in the half, the Earthquakes are content to sit deep and let the Crew’s center backs pass the ball between themselves at midfield.

Mensah receives the ball with a number of options. He can play a drop pass back to Degenek, a long, square pass to Zelarayan, a quick pass across the midfield circle to Artur, a direct pass forward to Nagbe, carry the ball forward or a diagonal ball up the right sideline to Moreira.

Columbus’ captain spots Artur and plays a short pass his way.

Artur turns up the field and spots winger Derrick Etienne Jr.

Zelarayan steps into position to set up a passing triangle with Artur and Etienne, who drops the ball back to Artur with his first touch.

Artur plays his own first-touch pass to Zelarayan who has Etienne and left back Pedro Santos (on the touchline) available as passing options.

Zelarayan turns under pressure and finds Degenek on the drop.

Once again, Degenek plays the ball back to Mensah.

Mensah finds Moreira as the Black & Gold continue to work possession forward and compress the San Jose defensive block.

Moreira carries the ball until he meets defensive resistance. Nagbe drops back between Mensah and Degenek while Moreira drops the ball back to his captain.

Mensah spots Nagbe and quickly plays a pass toward the midfielder.

Nagbe is immediately pressured by Espinoza but is yet again able to turn his back to the defender and use a burst of speed to set off up the field.

Espinoza trails as Nagbe carries the ball deeper into San Jose territory.

Nagbe steps toward Jan Gregus and finds himself with five options. He can play a pass up the left sideline to Pedro Santos, play a ball forward to Zelarayan, continue to carry the ball forward, hit a quick diagonal pass to Etienne or knock a drop back to Artur.

The veteran midfielder hits a quick pass forward to Zelarayan.

Zelarayan plays a first touch pass directly to Etienne.

Etienne receives the ball and takes a few touches before he is dispossessed by Marie.

Marie and Etienne both lose track of the ball giving Gregus the opportunity to hit a quick pass back to Jackson Yueill.

Yueill receives the ball, takes a quick touch and hits a long pass forward toward Jeremy Ebobisse.

Ebobisse and Mensah collide sending a deflected ball toward Artur. The Brazilian is able to win back possession and hits a short pass to Moreira.

Moreira receives the ball and immediately sets off toward the Earthquakes’ goal box.

Espinoza steps up to provide defensive pressure leaving Moreira with six options. He can play a quick touch pass to Artur, try a difficult diagonal pass to Etienne, play a switch of play to Zelarayan, carry the ball forward toward Francisco Calvo, hopefully freeing forward Miguel Berry for an open pass, play a through pass to Berry or a pass up the right sideline to winger Yaw Yeboah.

Moreira holds onto the ball and dribbles right at Calvo.

Calvo steps to Moreira, leaving the Crew’s right back with options to play a through pass to a now un-marked Berry, attempt to beat Calvo off the dribble or play a quick square pass to Etienne.

Moreira cuts to his left, leaving Calvo to slide right past the ball.

Marie dives in next and forces Moreira into another difficult duel.

Moreira is able to maintain possession and continues toward the center of the goal box. Etienne continues his run toward goal which grabs the attention of Yueill just long enough to give Moreira an extra second of time.

The Earthquakes’ defense collapses toward Moreira who quickly finds Zelarayan.

Zelarayan takes a touch on the ball to get around Eric Remedi and to set himself up for a shot on goal.

Columbus’ No. 10 tees up a curling shot toward the far corner and past JT Marcinkowski.

Marcinkowski dives to his left but is unable to get to the ball as it sails past his fingertips...

...into the back of the net!


  1. The Crew was up a man and attempting to break down an Earthquakes side determined to see out the half in a tight defensive block.
  2. Columbus switched possession around the backline while incrementally compacting San Jose’s back defense.
  3. Moreira’s dribbling at the Earthquakes’ defenders harkens back to some of the more dynamic dribbles of Harrison Afful’s career. He deftly shakes two defenders before finding Zelarayan at the top of the box.
  4. What more can be said about Zelarayan? The Black & Gold’s attacking fulcrum continues to make difficult plays look simple by scoring yet another world-class goal.