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 nine of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Derrick Etienne’s 43rd minute goal that gave the Crew a 2-0 lead as part of the Black & Gold’s 3-0 win against D.C. United on Saturday.
The Crew was able to end the team’s losing streak at Sporting Kansas City the week prior but couldn’t break the goal-scoring drought in the absence of Lucas Zelarayan. Columbus rolled out the same defensively-focused 4-3-3 formation against their old rivals and were finally able to grab a goal with a Pedro Santos free kick screamer in the 28th minute.
The 4-3-3 lacks an offensive punch and eschews possession but does give Aidan Morris some much needed, and much deserved playing time with Artur and Darlington Nagbe in central midfield.
Etienne’s goal begins with an Eloy Room goal kick.
Room opts for the long kick and pings the ball downfield toward forward Miguel Berry and United defender Steve Birnbaum.
Berry posts up in front of Birnbaum while the D.C. center back uses his elbow for some leverage against the Crew striker.
Berry and Birnbaum come together, sending Berry tumbling to the turf. The referee briefly lets play resume but then blows his whistle to stop play and call a foul on Birnbaum.
Zoomed in, you can see Birnbaum bring his elbow down into Berry’s head.
Birnbaum also handles the ball, justifying the referee’s whistle even if Birnbaum disagrees with the foul call.
Play stops so that Berry can receive treatment and resumes with a free kick inside the United half. Morris quickly plays a pass back to center back Josh Williams.
Williams receives the ball, unpressured, and has multiple options. He can play a quick square pass to left back Pedro Santos, hit a deep ball over the top of the defense to Etienne, direct a pass forward to Nagbe, play a short touch-pass back to Morris, try a long, difficult pass to winger James Igbekeme, carry the ball forward or a field switch to right back Marlon Hairston.
Williams eyes Etienne making an over-the-top run and plays a perfectly-weighted pass toward the winger.
After this goal is scored United goalkeeper Jon Kempin pleads with the referee for an offside call on Etienne, but from the image above, it is clear that the winger is kept onside by defender Tony Alfaro.
Etienne outpaces Julian Gressel and locates the ball as it drops toward him.
The Columbus winger uses his chest to bring down the ball and cut toward the goal. Gressel is unable to readjust his defensive run and ends up behind Etienne.
The ball bounces in front of Etienne as he runs toward the goal. Igbekeme makes a late run into the penalty box to provide a passing option.
The ball takes a second bounce and Etienne must decide which option to take on the half-volley. He can try a shot on goal, bring the ball down or play a quick pass back to Igbekeme.
Etienne sees an opening and hits a shot around Kempin toward the back post.
Kempin drops to his left but is unable to get a finger on the ball.
Etienne’s shot speeds past Kempin...
...into the back of the net.
- Berry has consistently struggled to win 50-50 headed chances but he does well here to gain position on Birnbaum and to draw a foul.
- Williams’ ability to play a long pass has been sorely missed this season with the center back out with an injury suffered in preseason.
- Etienne does everything right on this play. He times his run perfectly, easily brings down the ball and hits a difficult shot on the half-volley.