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 24 of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Cucho Hernandez’s fifth minute goal that gave the Crew a 1-0 lead as part of the team’s 1-1 draw at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
The Black & Gold bounced back from a streak-ending loss to CF Montreal with a big home win against the defending MLS Cup Champions, New York City FC last week. Following the win, Columbus made the flight to Colorado to continue a surprising five-match road unbeaten streak. In Commerce City, the Crew met up with former teammate Gyasi Zardes, who scored a hat trick in his prior match.
Hernandez’s goal, his sixth of the season, begins with a Crew corner kick.
Playmaker Lucas Zelarayan takes the kick and directs the ball toward a near-post run by center back Jonathan Mensah. The ball travels over Mensah’s head where it is redirected away from the goal by center back Danny Wilson.
Hernandez eyes the cleared corner and sprints to collect the ball. Black & Gold midfielder Darlington Nagbe drops into a supporting position.
Columbus’ striker easily picks up the ball and quickly drops it back to Nagbe.
Rapids’ midfielder Bryan Acosta gives chase, forcing Nagbe to turn away from goal in order to maintain possession of the ball.
Pedro Santos steps into position as Nagbe hits a long, drop pass to the left back.
Santos steps forward with the ball, and under pressure from Zardes, finding himself with the options to play a pass up the sideline to Zelarayan, attempt to carry the ball around Zardes or play a quick square pass to center back Milos Degenek.
Zardes steps toward Santos forcing the Portuguese into a quick pass up the sideline to Zelarayan.
Santos makes an overlapping run as Zelarayan settles the ball and sets himself up for a clever back-heel pass.
Zelarayan sends a back-heel pass out in front of Santos, toward winger Derrick Etienne Jr.
Santos beats Zardes in a foot race but leaves the ball to Etienne.
Etienne carries the ball toward the midfield line and finds himself with three options. He can play a drop back to Zelarayan, a square pass to an open Nagbe or carry the ball toward the middle of the pitch.
Etienne hits a quick pass around defender Jonathan Lewis toward Zelarayan.
Lewis recovers onto Zelaryan forcing the No. 10 into a decision. Zelarayan plants his left foot signaling that he plans to either hit a long pass across the field toward Hernandez, hit a clever ball over the top of the defense toward winger Luis Diaz or use his right foot to fake a long pass or shot but instead take the ball behind his left leg, also known as a Cruyff turn.
Zelarayan pulls off the clever Cruyff turn and gets around Lewis. To his left, Etienne makes a run in behind Zardes.
Zelarayan spots the run and hits a pass into the path of Etienne.
Etienne steps to the ball as center back Lalas Abubakar steps to him. The winger could attempt to beat Abubakar on the dribble, play a lofted ball toward Hernandez at the top of the 18-yard box, try a quick touch pass to Diaz, attempt a longer drop toward midfielder Artur or play a touch pass into the path of Zelarayan.
Etienne spots Diaz and plays a quick pass toward his wing counterpart.
Diaz tees up a quick shot right as Wilson steps between him and the goal.
Wilson successfully deflects the ball away from the goal sending it outside the goal box.
Diaz pounces on the deflection and is easily able to win the ball back.
Attacking midfielder Diego Rubio provides defensive pressure leaving Diaz with three options. He can turn the ball back toward the goal, play a quick pass to Artur at the top of the goal box or play a drop pass to Santos.
Diaz picks the safest option and drops the ball back to Santos.
Santos takes advantage of some lazy defense by Rubio and sets off toward the goal without any pressure.
As Santos carries the ball forward he can continue to carry the ball, attempt a pass through traffic to Zelarayan, send a cross toward the back post into the path of Hernandez or pllay a touch pass to Artur.
Santos eyes Hernandez and hits a ball toward a back post run by the striker.
Hernandez times the cross and makes his run toward the back post.
Keegan Rosenbery and Lucas Eteves, both outside backs, somehow find themselves as the only defenders near Hernandez. The ball takes a bounce as Hernandez leaps to meet the rebound off the ground.
The Crew’s striker is able to get a foot onto the ball and send it back toward the goal.
Hernandez drives the ball down toward the ground in hopes of bouncing the ball out of reach of the Rapids’ goalkeeper.
The ball takes a hard bounce in front of Hernandez and toward the roof of the net.
William Yarbrough can only watch as the ball bounces over his hands...
...into the back of the net!
- The Black & Gold’s off-the-ball movement on this play is excellent. Columbus started the match with this heightened level of intensity but seemed to fatigue as the altitude began to wear the team down.
- Leave it to Zelarayan to play a back-heel pass in the attacking third.
- The Crew wins every single hustle play on the way to this goal. There are multiple instances of Black & Gold players sprinting after loose balls to keep this possession alive.
- Santos plays a difficult cross right into the path of Hernandez who, rather than shoot the ball directly on goal, is able to hit an almost impossible to save bouncing shot into the goal.