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Anatomy of a Goal: Sean Zawadzki opens his Crew account in style

This week we look at Zawadzki’s world-class goal against Toronto.

Sean Zawadzki (25) of Columbus celebrates scoring a goal... Photo by Angel Marchini/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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 16 of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Sean Zawadzki’s first goal for the Crew, an 18th minute wonder-strike, that set Columbus on the path to a 2-1 victory at Toronto FC on Wednesday.

Here is a look at the strike from the Homegrown rookie.

The Black & Gold made the trip to their northernmost rivals with a chance to complete a season sweep and to bring the coveted Trillium Cup back to Columbus. Porter’s side has struggled to secure results on the road in the past but this season has been different. The Crew has secured at least a point in all but two road matches thus far on the year. Wednesday’s match in Toronto is another game closer to the team returning to full strength, and adding Cucho Hernandez, so any points on the road are crucial.

Zawadzki’s goal begins on a corner kick that follows a strong spell of possession for the Black & Gold.

Playmaker Lucas Zelarayan, back from an injury layoff, plays a long pass on the ground to left back Pedro Santos.

Santos hits a pass right back to Zelarayan and sends the Toronto defense scrambling.

Zelarayan receives the ball and cuts toward the goal line before quickly cutting back toward the top of the penalty box, shaking free of the defending Ralph Priso and opening up passing lanes.

The Crew’s No. 10 hits a looping cross into center back Josh Williams.

Toronto gets on the end of Zelarayan’s cross and sends a long, clearing headed ball toward midfield.

Right back Steven Moreira picks up the ball as Santos drops into a supporting position.

Priso pressures Moreira forcing the Crew right back into a quick pass to Santos.

Santos receives the ball and plays a pass forward to central midfielder Aidan Morris who has dropped toward the defenders. Morris’ drop into space is unmarked, giving him the opportunity to turn the ball back toward the goal.

Morris does just that and carries the ball toward the goal box. New signee Jacen Russell-Rowe holds his positioning just at the offside line.

As Morris nears the goal box and TFC’s Michael Bradley, he finds himself with four options. He can play a square pass wide to Zelarayan, try a through ball into the box for Russell-Rowe, hit a long pass across the field to midfielder Darlington Nagbe or play a shorter pass to Zawadzki.

Morris spies his new teammate and hits a pass into the 18-yard box for Russell-Rowe.

Morris’ pass is a bit too heavy forcing Russell-Rowe to chase the ball toward the end line.

Russell-Rowe reaches the ball and hits a quick drop pass to Zelarayan.

Zelarayan slows up play to evaluate the best option. Santos makes an overlapping run and Zelarayan makes a short touch pass to the left back.

Santos takes a few touches toward midfield before playing a diagonal pass to Zawadzki.

Zawadzki turns the ball and resets the possession with a drop pass to center back Jonathan Mensah.

Mensah takes a touch forward before playing a pass toward Nagbe.

Nagbe turns and finds himself with three options, a quick square pass to Zawadzki, carrying the ball forward or a pass up the sideline to Moreira.

Moreira slows his run but Nagbe plays a pass toward him.

Moreira angles his body toward the goal box and has three options. He can play a long pass into the penalty box toward Russell-Rowe, carry the ball forward or try a drop back to Nagbe.

Russell-Rowe steps away from Bradley and opens himself up to a pass from Moreira.

Russell-Rowe receives the ball and faces up to the goal.

Bradley steps forward forcing Russell-Rowe to turn the ball away from the USMNT veteran.

Russell-Rowe uses his body to block Bradley and turns back toward the midfield line where Zawadzki has opened himself up for a pass.

Russell-Rowe obliges and plays a quick pass toward Zawadzki.

Zawadzki senses the moment and tees up a first-touch shot on goal.

Zawadzki’s shot catches Alex Bono flat-footed and heads just to the left of Shane O’Neill.

Bono dives toward the ball but is unable to get a finger on it as Zawadzki’s shot sails past him...

...into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. Columbus opened the game on a mission with some excellent possession and defensive work.
  2. Yet again, the Black & Gold are most effective when they make simple passes rather than lumping crosses into the goal box.
  3. Russell-Rowe, fresh off signing a deal with the first team, displayed some excellent hold-up play to set up this goal. If Russell-Rowe is able to consistently hold the ball this well, it will be hard to keep him out of the lineup.
  4. Zawadzki, making his second career start, once again filled in well for Artur. His and Morris’ play have made the three-man midfield the best option for the Crew moving forward.