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 seven of the 2023 MLS season, we take a look at Christian Ramirez’s 47th minute goal that doubled the Crew’s lead and sent them home with a 2-0 win at D.C. United and a third in as many matches.
Here is a look at the goal from Ramirez.
Columbus hit the road for a trip to old rival D.C. on the back of the team’s first two-match winning streak since 2021. This match, the seventh of the MLS season, is the final time these teams will play during the regular season. With a win, the Black & Gold grabbed all six points from this matchup at an early but crucial point in the season while United struggles.
The Crew got the scoring started in the first half with a Lucas Zelarayan penalty kick following a D.C. foul on Alexandru Matan. United fans will certainly claim that this was a soft penalty (and I would agree) but there is no question that defender Russell Canouse stepped on Matan’s ankle in a manner that’s called a foul everywhere else on the field.
Ramirez’s lead-doubling goal begins with the ball in goalkeeper Patrick Schulte’s hands. Schulte hurls the ball out to wing back Will Sands on the left.
Sands picks up the ball under defense from former teammate Pedro Santos and carries it into the United defensive end.
As Sands crosses the midfield line, Canouse shifts his defensive focus toward the wing back. Sands must now choose whether to continue to carry the ball forward, play a pass up the left flank toward Matan, hit a long pass forward toward Ramirez, try a curving pass into the path of Zelarayan or a field-switching pass toward fellow wing back Mohamed Farsi.
Sands sees Farsi darting up the opposite sideline and hits a long switch his way. Ramirez, who was close to being in an offside position when the play began, takes a step back toward the ball and but quickly backs off as he sees Farsi running unmarked up the flank. Ramirez then briefly contacts D.C. defender Jacob Greene before Greene continues over toward Farsi.
Some people, Wayne Rooney specifically, would argue that Ramirez was in an offside position when the ball was played and then impeded Greene’s ability to defend Farsi, thus causing an involvement that should have rendered this play offside and the goal called back by VAR. Rooney and others exclude the fact of all goal-scoring plays being reviewed by VAR. As you all know, VAR will send the play down to the on-field referee for review when they spot a clear and obvious error in the on-field call. Here, the clear and obvious errors would have to work together to create a two-pronged offense.
For the onside call to have been in error, Ramirez must have been offside when the ball was played AND must have impeded Greene’s ability to defend the play. There is no good angle that shows Ramirez as definitively offside. The diagonal angle appears to show him one to two steps ahead of the defense but the placement of the players necessitates a better angle to rule that call a clear and obvious error. Additionally, it’s unclear that Ramirez interfered with Greene in a way that prevented him from reaching the ball. The pass itself was played toward Farsi and was totally out of reach of Greene and Ramirez. Ramirez absolutely does slow down Greene’s movement toward Farsi but that is done as both are slowing and turning to the ball. Greene reaches a defensive posture almost at the exact same moment that Farsi reaches the ball. So, while Ramirez does make contact with Greene, he does not impede his ability to reach the ball (which he never would have reached) or his ability to defend Farsi. Case closed.
The ball bounces past Ramirez on its way to Farsi. Greene heads toward Farsi as Ramirez shifts his run toward the goal.
Farsi approaches Greene leaving the right wing back with four options. He can play a long drop pass to midfielder Aidan Morris, try a difficult square pass to midfielder Darlington Nagbe, hit an early cross into the box toward Ramirez attempt to beat Greene off the dribble.
Farsi takes a brief pause and then easily cuts the ball around Greene.
Greene tugs on Farsi’s shirt but is unable to stop the Canadian’s path forward.
Farsi approaches his first touch after beating Greene and finds himself with three new options. He can play a pass into the penalty box back toward Ramirez, hit a long, looping cross toward Matan or cut the ball toward the goal.
Farsi spots Ramirez and hits a long pass right toward him.
Ramirez steps toward the pass and must quickly decide whether to take a touch toward goal, take a shot on goal or make a tough pass to Matan.
Ramirez goes for goal and hits a low shot to the right of D.C. goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
Miller dives to his right but is unable to get a stop as the ball bounds past him…
…into the back of the net!
- Sands shows how head coach Wilfried Nancy’s system unsettles opposing teams, switching the ball from the left wing to the right, finding a wide-open Farsi.
- This play was correctly not called back for a clear and obvious error on the goal call regarding Ramirez being in a potentially offside position when the initial pass to Farsi was played.
- Farsi does great work to beat Greene with pace and then play a perfect pass right to the feet of Ramirez.
- Likewise, Ramirez does well to turn on the ball and put in a shot that very few goalkeepers could save.