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Anatomy of a Goal: Hernandez heads home his ninth goal of the season

This week we look at Cucho Hernandez’s 41st minute goal against Inter Miami.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Inter Miami CF Jasen Vinlove-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 30 of the 2022 MLS season, we look at Cucho Hernandez’s 41st minute goal that evened the match during the Crew’s 2-1 loss at Inter Miami on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the goal from Columbus’s striker.

The Black & Gold trekked down to Ft. Lauderdale following a strong showing in Montreal that was upended by a late-game collapse following a Luis Diaz red card. Facing off against Inter Miami without Diaz, and with points crucial to retaining a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs, Kevin Molino stepped into the starting lineup, giving Columbus another creative option in the attack.

Hernandez’s goal begins with a long Miami switch of fields that is misplayed. The ball bounces high into the air as left back Will Sands and winger Derrick Etienne Jr. battle for possession.

Etienne wins the ball and sets off toward midfield.

Under defensive pressure, Etienne turns the ball back toward the Columbus goal and surveys the field.

Etienne buys himself some time and space and has four options. He can play a quick pass forward to Hernandez, carry the ball forward, try a square pass to Molino or hit a diagonal drop to Darlington Nagbe.

The winger moves the attack forward and plays a quick pass toward Hernandez.

Molino and right back Steven Moreira take off on the attack while Hernandez lets the ball run across his body and out in front of him.

As the ball moves forward, Hernandez shifts his position to shield the ball from the Inter Miami defender and can either play a long pass forward to midfielder Lucas Zelarayan, carry the ball forward, play a touch pass to Molino or hit a long diagonal pass into the path of Moreira.

Hernandez spots Moreira’s run and hits a ball into the space in front of the right back.

Moreira receives the ball and immediately has three options. He can continue forward toward the Miami goal, try a tough pass back to Hernandez or play a drop back to Molino.

Moreira touches the ball back to Molino and sets off down the field.

Molino receives the ball with yards of space to operate. He carries forward as the Black & Gold attack develops.

Molino approaches Ari Lassiter and must decide whether to. He can send the ball back to Moreira, take Lassiter off the dribble or play a square pass to Hernandez.

Molino slows down and then uses a quick burst of speed to easily carry the ball around Lassiter.

Just in front of Miami’s defensive block, Molino has another decision to make. He can play a through pass forward to Moreira, attempt to carry the ball into the Inter goal box or play a difficult pass through the defense toward Hernandez.

Molino hits a perfectly-timed pass in front of Moreira, allowing the right back to stay onside.

Moreira sprints toward the ball as the Crew attackers make runs into the goal box. Zelarayan makes a run toward the back of the penalty box, Hernandez dashes toward the penalty spot and Molino continues toward the goal.

Moreira approaches the ball and must decide between four options for his first touch. He can take a touch around defender Christopher McVey toward the goal, play a long pass across the 18-yard box to Zelarayan, try a cross toward Hernandez near the penalty spot or play a short pass on the ground toward Molino.

Columbus’ right back spots Hernandez and tees up a cross for his eighth assist of the season.

Moreira’s cross loops toward the penalty spot as Aime Mabika and Hernandez try to time the ball’s trajectory.

Mabika and Hernandez both jump for the ball...

...but Mabika is unable to reach it as Hernandez tees up a headed chance at goal.

Hernandez takes an open header toward Drake Callender’s goal.

As he has done a few times this season, Hernandez heads the ball down into the ground, looking to use the bounce to make a save more difficult for Callender.

The ball takes a bounce and continues toward the goal, leaving Callender to watch as the ball bounds past him...

...into the back of the net.

Findings:

  1. The Black & Gold once again find strong opportunities on a counter attack. Etienne begins the direct play forward while Molino and Moreira continue pushing toward the goal.
  2. Molino does well to carry the ball until defensive resistance comes and then plays a perfectly timed and weighted pass toward Moreira.
  3. Moreira’s assist, an inch-perfect cross, tied the team record for assists by a defender with eight.
  4. Hernandez isn’t the tallest player on the roster, but he’s displayed a knack for scoring headed goals. He does so again here and expertly bounces the ball off the ground in front of him to create a more difficult save situation for Callender.