Anatomy of a goal: Derrick Etienne doubles Columbus Crew lead and triggers rout

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Welcome to The Anatomy of a Goal, where each week we dissect a goal (or near goal) from a previous Columbus Crew game.

For the opener of the 2022 MLS season, we watch Derrick Etienne’s 25th-minute goal that gave the Crew a 2-0 lead in Black & Gold’s 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday.

Here is an overview the Columbus winger’s goal.

Columbus hosted the Whitecaps at Lower.com Field for a chilly start to the season in February. Striker Miguel Berry was given a surprise start against Gyasi Zardes and put the decision to work by scoring a deflected goal in the eighth minute to give the Crew an early lead. The Black & Gold maintained possession and an attacking advantage leading to Etienne’s decisive goal.

The next goal for the crew begins with a long direct pass aimed at Etienne. The winger battles with Tristan Blackmon to win the ball.

Blackmon wins the ball with a header but sends his attempt directly towards Artur in the middle of the field.

Artur carries the ball to the sideline where it is met by two Vancouver defenders. The Brazilian midfielder, back on the pitch after an injury absence of almost a year, skillfully carries the ball through the defense and turns towards left-back Pedro Santos.

Artur shakes off the pressure and drops the ball to Santos.

Santos brings the ball back to midfield where he has three options as Deiber Caicedo approaches. He can continue to carry the ball towards goal by making a long diagonal pass to central defender Jonathan Mensah or making a quick square pass to midfielder Darlington Nagbe.

Santos chooses Nagbe and hits a hard square pass straight to midfield.

As they have done throughout head coach Caleb Porter’s tenure, the crew’s centre-backs have split wide to allow one of the midfielders to drop into the space between them. Artur and Nagbe’s ability to move in and out of this spot, traditionally called the double pivot, allows the other to step forward and was a key feature of the 2020 MLS Cup Championship team.

Most teams that run a similar formation drop a midfielder in this spot, but few are able to have two midfielders who can play in this role and can also be a No.8 running back. This lack of flexibility was on display in 2021 during Artur and Aidan Morris’ absence, and the improvement in Artur’s return was immediately noticeable.

Nagbe turns to the other side of the field and quickly finds Mensah.

Right-back Steven Moreira steps back and receives a quick pass from Mensah.

Moreira carries the ball a few meters forward before falling quickly on Mensah.

Notice in this image that Nagbe moved up the field from his previous spot as No. 6 to one spot further back as No. 8, while Artur fell back closer to the baseline. This midfield flexibility comes into play even in simple possessions.

Mensah resets possession and quickly plays a square pass to new center back partner Milos Degenek. Degenek looks to his left and sees Santos getting into position on the left sideline.

Degenek turns to his left and quickly sends the ball to Santos.

Santos doesn’t see the way forward so he throws the ball back to Artur.

Artur recovers the ball and throws the game back to Mensah.

The Whitecaps defense moved quickly to the Black & Gold left side, opening Moreira up for a quick sideline pass.

Moreira sees space in front of him and quickly carries the ball towards midfield. Crew debutant Yaw Yeboah waits for a pass a dozen yards from the halfway line.

Moreira sees Yeboah standing unmarked and quickly hits a pass to the winger.

Yeboah drives the ball upfield as Moreira makes an overlapping run down the right sideline.

Yeboah looks up and sees six options. He can play a forward pass to playmaker Lucas Zelarayan, hit a fastball down the sideline to an overlapping Moreira, play a through pass to Berry, hit a long cross to Etienne, carry the ball to forward or attempt a square pass to Nagbe.

Etienne raises his hand and rushes towards the goal. Yeboah hits a perfect pass into the goal area to Etienne.

Etienne beats the Vancouver defense and drops the ball into the box.

The Columbus left winger drops the ball and takes a throw-in towards goal.

Etienne is unable to put the ball on his left foot so he takes his shot using the outside of his right foot. This sends the ball flying away from goalkeeper Thomas Hasal towards the far post.

Hasal can only watch the ball go past him…

…at the bottom of the net!

Results:

  1. Artur brings much-needed positioning flexibility to the team.
  2. The Black & Gold showed patience on this play, recycling the ball towards the central defenders before finding the right pass.
  3. Yeboah had an immediate impact on his debut, hitting a long right cross into Etienne’s feet.
  4. Etienne hits a difficult shot well, using the outside of his right foot to send the ball away from Hasal.

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