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Anatomy of a Goal: New York City FC slices through Crew defense to open scoring

This week we look at NYCFC’s ninth-minute goal that carved up the Crew and sent City toward a win.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York City FC 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 11 of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Talles Magno’s ninth-minute goal that gave New York City FC a lead the team did not relinquish in Saturday’s 2-0 win against the Crew.

Here is a look at the goal from NYCFC’s winger.

Columbus traveled to the Bronx on the back of a three-match unbeaten streak. The Black & Gold experienced a weather-related travel delay that held up their trip and forced a later flight into New York City. Add travel issues to the difficulty of playing a road match on a baseball field with a barely regulation-sized pitch and you do not have a recipe for success in MLS.

City’s goal begins with a spell of NYCFC possession. We will pick up when the ball crosses into the Crew’s defensivee half. Gabriel Pereira receives the ball and dribbles toward Pedro Santos.

Santos dives in but is unable to dispossess Pereira as the NYCFC winger carries the ball deeper into the Columbus half.

Pereira carries the ball until Nicolas Acevedo, NYCFC’s right back, makes an overlapping run, and drops in a quick pass to his teammate.

Acevedo takes a collecting touch before playing the ball down the line to Keaton Parks. To this point, the Crew has kept City out of dangerous positions, closing down the center of the field.

Parks hits a cross into the penalty box toward NYCFC forward Valentine Castellanos and Columbus right back Steven Moreira.

Moreira easily wins the ball in front of MLS’s reigning Golden Boot winner, but heads the ball straight up into the air rather than clearing it out of danger.

Castellanos is able to body up Moreira as the ball drops back down to the field.

Magno runs toward Castellanos, causing both City attackers to whiff on the ball.

The bouncing ball drops back toward the center of the 18-yad box, setting off a footrace between Castellanos and the Black & Gold’s Darlington Nagbe and Derrick Etienne.

Nagbe and Etienne have their own moment of hesitation, giving Castellanos a brief window to slide in and win the ball.

Castellanos beats the Crew defenders but slides the ball directly into Nagbe’s leg.

The ball carroms off Nagbe back toward Magno while Castellanos bundles into Etienne.

Magno sprints toward the ball, still in the Black & Gold goal box, while Etienne is brought down by Castellanos.

The Crew should have done a better job of clearing the ball in this play, but this is a clear foul by Castellanos. He does win the ball but ends up putting his backside through Etienne’s legs; the referee should have whistled for a foul.

Magno picks up the ball and hits a quick pass outside the penalty box to Santiago Rodriguez.

Rodriguez uses his first touch to turn toward midfield and plays a quick drop pass back to Maxi Moralez.

Moralez steps toward the ball and has five options. He can play a quick pass wide to Chris Gloster, a touch pass right back to Rodriguez, carry the ball forward, try a quick diagonal to Parks or attempt a drop pass back to his center backs.

Moralez uses his first touch to hit a looping pass to an unmarked Gloster on the left wing.

Gloster takes a few touches and drops the ball back to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is marked by Etienne and carries the ball backward. Columbus stays organized and keeps NYCFC out of the 18-yard box for the time being.

Rodriguez resets the possession and drops the ball all the way back to center back Thiago Martins.

Martins carries the ball forward until he is met by pressure from Crew midfielder James Igbekeme. He then hits a quick pass into the heavily marked Magno. Note the positioning of Moralez. If the Black & Gold defense collapses on Magno, the winger will have a simple drop pass back to the Argentine playmaker.

Mensah and Nagbe pressure Magno, who immediately drops the ball back to Moralez.

Magno’s pass and movement frees up Parks, who Moralez hits with a quick pass.

Santos and Artur both do well to step to Parks. The Black & Gold defenders are able to dispossess New York City’s midfielder but the ball still somehow finds its way into the goal box onto the feet of Rodriguez.

Rodriguez carries the ball forward and can either play a touch pass to Castellanos, carry the ball forward to a quick shot or drop the ball back to Magno.

Rodriguez drops the ball to Magno as Moreira bounds toward the pass.

Magno takes a soft touch around Moreira and sets off toward the goal.

With only center back Jonathan Mensah and goalkeeper Eloy Room to beat, Magno fires in a shot with his left foot.

Columbus’ captain is unable to get a foot on the ball.

A diving Room is a yard short while the Black & Gold defense watches the ball roll past him...

...into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. Magno’s score is an excellent team goal by NYCFC. Before we join this play, City passed the ball around the team’s backline before working it across midfield.
  2. The Crew had multiple opportunities to clear the ball but was either unlucky or unable to put a foot right.
  3. Yes, Castellanos should have been whistled for a foul on Etienne, but that doesn’t excuse the Black & Gold’s inability to win back the ball.
  4. New York City used the small field to the team’s advantage by passing and moving quickly and playing long balls when needed, finally using short passes to hit Magno and put him in position to score the game winner.