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Anatomy of a Goal: Crew’s Steven Moreira rescues a dramatic Hell is Real draw

This week we look at Moreira’s last-minute goal that secured a vital point for the Black & Gold in Cincinnati.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-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 26 of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Steven Moreira’s 96th minute goal that stole a point on the road against Hell is Real rivals FC Cincinnati on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the goal from the Crew’s right-back.

The Crew and Cincinnati met again for this regular season’s conclusion to the Hell is Real Derby. The Black & Gold played one of their strongest matches of the year in July’s version of the rivalry and prepared to continue a mostly unbeaten summer in their return to the scene of 2021’s dramatic Hell is Real draw.

Columbus continued the team’s string of disappointing performances in the first half of Saturday’s match. Despite controlling possession, the Crew was down 1-0 at the half and lucky not to be behind by more. Winger Derrick Etienne Jr. evened the match with a controversial goal in the 74th minute but the hosts quickly retook the lead with center back Matt Miazga scoring goal in the 77th minute.

Moreira’s dramatic goal begins with a Black & Gold throw-in with less than one minute remaining in stoppage time. Fullback Mohamed Farsi, who came off the bench due to the injury absence of Pedro Santos, has three options from the throw. He can make a short toss to center back Milos Degenek, try a longer throw back to center back Jonathan Mensah or go for a difficult throw across the field to Moreira.

Farsi quickly finds his captain to begin the possession and look for a tying goal.

Mensah collects the ball at midfield and has to decide what to do next. He could play a diagonal pass to Moreira, attempt a long ball toward the forward line into the goal box, try a quick ball forward toward midfielder Darlington Nagbe, play a pass up the sideline toward Farsi or hit a short pass forward to Degenek.

Mensah finds Degenek to move the ball a few yards closer to FC Cincinnati’s goal.

Degenek collects the ball and must quickly decide between five options, including a long ball across the field toward Moreira, a short pass forward to Nagbe, a drive forward to midfielder Lucas Zelarayan, a pass over the top of the defense toward forward Erik Hurtado or a ball up the sideline to Farsi.

Degenek pings the ball into the goal box toward Hurtado.

Hurtado sprints into the path of the pass but Cincinnati center back Geoff Cameron is in position to win the ball.

Cameron heads the ball out of the penalty box, toward the top of the 18-yard line.

Cameron’s clearance loops high into the air and is on a trajectory to land just inside the penalty box. Moreira, Zelarayan and winger Yaw Yeboah sprint toward the ball while FC Cincinnati defenders Allan Cruz and John Nelson look to clear out the danger and secure a win.

The ball drops toward the ground with Moreira in the best position to make a play.

Moreira tees up his first touch and must decide whether to bring down the ball and take a touch toward the goal, fire in a difficult volley on goal, loop in a pass toward Hurtado or play the ball away from the goal toward forward Cucho Hernandez.

Moreira seizes the moment and hits a first-touch shot on the full volley.

The shot makes its way around Cruz and Nelson and has only Cameron and Roman Celentano to beat.

Cameron is unable to reach the ball while Celentano dives to his right.

Celentano dives, fully extended, to his right but can only watch as the ball bounds past him...

...into the back of the net!

Findings:

  1. The Crew has had a few draws that felt like losses over the last few weeks, but this one is a draw that will feel like a win.
  2. As the Black & Gold have been punished for sitting back to defend a lead, so was Cincinnati. The soft defensive line pushed back too far toward the FC Cincy goal and gave Columbus too much time and space to run into.
  3. Moreira had to hit the ball perfectly and he did. By skipping the shot off the ground, Moreira forced Celentano to fully extend to even have a chance at saving the ball.