Osvaldo Alonso

Anatomy of a Goal: Breaking down Cristian Roldan's goal against the Houston Dynamo

Will Bruin Cristian Roldan Dynamo 2018-10-09

The Seattle Sounders obtained their second consecutive win on Monday with a 4-1 demolition of the Houston Dynamo, putting the team in pole position to clinch the club’s tenth consecutive playoff berth with a win against Orlando City on Wednesday. Midfielder Cristian Roldan compiled a comprehensive performance on the night, including a lung-busting counter-attack goal in the 34th minute to hand Seattle a 2-0 entering halftime.


In the span of just 15 seconds, the Sounders went from defending a cross inside their own penalty area to doubling their advantage.


It was the type of goal that makes Seattle such a lethal team entering the postseason, as they can beat you through sustained, metronomic possession or in clinical moments of transition. As is always the case in soccer, there’s more to the play than Roldan’s 80-yard run and Nicolás Lodeiro’s perfectly weighted, slide-rule pass.

Anatomy of a Goal: Breaking down Cristian Roldan's goal against the Houston Dynamo -

As you can see in the image above, the Sounders have a perfect defensive shape to deny a goal-scoring opportunity from DaMarcus Beasley’s cross. Chad Marshall tracks the run of Mauro Manotas, Nouhou is goal-side of Darwin Cerén for the back-post option, and Kim Kee-hee is stepping into the space to cut out a low cross. As Beasley winds up to whip in the ball, Kelvin Leerdam closes his down and Osvaldo Alonso stations himself in a position to break up a cut-back or clean-up any clearances.



Leerdam provides the crucial intervention at the last second as the right back adopts the proper defensive posture and sticks out his left leg to deflect the cross. Alonso promptly pounces on the loose ball and recovers possession, exhibiting elite awareness to touch it past a Houston player as he turns.



As soon as Honey Badger wins the ball back, Lodeiro peels off the back shoulder of his defender and curls his run to the left, which Alonso quickly identifies, releasing the Uruguayan into space and initiating the counter.

Anatomy of a Goal: Breaking down Cristian Roldan's goal against the Houston Dynamo -

Once Lodeiro bursts into the attack, Will Bruin makes a hard, direct run between the Houston center backs, effectively occupying two Dynamo defenders and opening up space on the weakside.



Recognizing the space generated by Bruin, Víctor Rodríguez accelerates into the gap, which drags the Houston defender making a recovery run with him. At this point, Roldan picks up the pace and begins to call for a pass from Lodeiro, who then touches it past Juan Cabezas and drives at the heart of Houston’s defense.



With Bruin and Rodríguez barreling towards goal, Lodeiro commits two defenders before chopping the ball onto his weaker right foot and supplies a perfectly-weighted through-ball for Roldan down the right channel. The brilliance of Rodríguez’s run is the angle of his approach. Instead of making a vertical, linear run into the gap, he angles towards Houston’s center back, which drags Óscar Boniek inside and creates the lane for the Uruguayan to thread his pass.


Roldan latches onto the ball with a positive first touch, surveys the scene in front of him, and smashes a shot the back post. Had Tyler Deric managed to save his attempt, the rebound would’ve fallen kindly to either Bruin or Rodríguez for a tap-in.

Anatomy of a Goal: Breaking down Cristian Roldan's goal against the Houston Dynamo -

As you can see in the image above, all four Dynamo defenders are fixated on Lodeiro, allowing Roldan to ghost in on the weakside. Much of the credit for this goal will goal to the brilliance of Lodeiro’s pass and Roldan’s decisive finish – and rightfully so – but the play was made possible by the intelligent movement of Rodríguez and Bruin.


With the Sounders playing two of their final three fixtures on the road, they’ll need to replicate this ruthless efficiency in transition to enter the postseason in a strong run of form.

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