Welcome to the Anatomy of a Goal, where each week we dissect one goal (or near goal) from a previous Columbus Crew match.
The Black & Gold made the trip to Chicago on the back of a five-match unbeaten streak and with the services of club record signing Cucho Hernandez for the first time (though as a substitute). The Crew started brightly but quickly lost the plot in the first half when a short corner led to an opening goal from the Fire. Chicago doubled the lead just before half time and sent Columbus to the locker room on the brink of disaster.
Head coach Caleb Porter made a crucial adjustment at the half by subbing out center back Jalil Anibaba and midfielder Sean Zawadzki for wingers Luis Diaz and Etienne. This move switched the formation out of the 3-5-2 that started the match back to a winger-oriented 4-2-3-1. The system shift saw almost immediate dividends with the Crew creating multiple opportunities on the offensive end.
Finally, in the 62nd minute, the moment that Black & Gold fans waited for arrived: Hernandez made his debut by subbing in for Jacen Russell-Rowe. This led to the first goal to start the comeback for the Black & Gold.
Etienne’s goal begins with a throw-in from Columbus’ defensive end. Right back Steven Moreira takes the throw and launches the ball toward Hernandez.
Hernandez battles for the ball with Chicago winger Chris Mueller but is ultimately able to get a chest onto the throw-in.
Hernandez isn’t able to control the ball and sends a heavy-chested pass into the path of midfielder Darlington Nagbe and Lucas Zelarayan.
Nagbe easily reaches the ball and sets off the attack in Chicago territory.
Nagbe collects the ball and surveys his options. He can play a diagonal drop pass to midfielder Aidan Morris, try a long, field-switching pass to left back Pedro Santos, play a similar pass to Etienne, hit a quick pass forward to Zelarayan, carry the ball forward, attempt a diagonal pass up the sideline to Hernandez or play a square pass to Moreira.
Nagbe tees up the ball and switches fields with a long pass to Santos.
Santos easily receives the ball as the Fire defense shifts toward the opposite side of the field.
The left back takes a few touches forward and then surveys his options. He can play a pass up the sideline to Etienne, carry the ball forward, try a difficult pass back to Nagbe, attempt a switch of play to center back Jonathan Mensah or hit a short drop pass to Morris.
Santos makes a safe pass and drops the ball back to Morris.
Chicago’s defense has regrouped but dropped deeper into the half, leaving Morris with time to think. From there, here can play a touch pass right back to Santos, try a pass up the sideline to Etienne, hit a long pass forward to Zelarayan, carry the ball forward, make a defended, diagonal pass to Nagbe, hit a long switch of play to Moreira, play a diagonal drop pass to Mensah or make a pass backward to center back Josh Williams.
Morris spies Zelarayan’s movement into the open space in the Fire defense and hits a quick pass toward the Argentine. Etienne quickly makes an away-from-the-ball run up the sideline.
Zelarayan picks up the ball under pressure as Etienne continues his run toward the goal. The Argentinian’s momentum sends him away from Etienne.
Somehow, Zelarayan is able to turn on the ball and hit a nearly no-look pass forward into the path of Etienne’s run.
From the side angle of this pass, it appears that Etienne was able to perfectly time his run and JUST stay onside as the pass left Zelarayan’s foot.
Zelarayan’s pass somehow threads the needle between two Fire defenders...
...before finding its way through traffic and into the path of Etienne.
Etienne picks up the ball in the Chicago goal box as Hernandez and Diaz make supporting runs.
Etienne nears goalkeeper’s Gabriel Slonina’s six-yard box and must decide to take a shot on goal, play a pass to Hernandez at the penalty spot or try a pass in front of the goal to Diaz.
From nearly the same spot where he scored in the 2020 MLS Cup Final, Etienne hits a looping shot around Slonina toward the back post.
Slonina gets a hand up but is unable to get a touch on the ball.
The young Fire goalkeeper watches the ball sail past his hands...
...into the back of the net!
- Porter called for the team to switch fields more often and they did just that when Nagbe hit a long pass across the field toward Santos
- Zelarayan makes yet another play to set himself apart from the rest of the league when he hits a turn-around, no-look pass between multiple Chicago defenders and into the path of Etienne who does well to time his run and stay onside.
- Like Justin Meram before him, Etienne is lethan with the right-footed shot that hooks in from the left side. He’s scored that goal in the MLS Cup Final and earlier this season against D.C. United.