Anatomy of a Goal: How Nicolas Lodeiro’s attacking impetus, off-the-ball run set up Clint Dempsey’s opener vs. Rapids

The Seattle Sounders secured their second road win of the season on Tuesday with a convincing 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids. Clint Dempsey recorded a brace and gave the Sounders the lead just six minutes into the match with a neat left-footed finish from 12 yards out.

It only took 17 seconds to go from the hands of Stefan Frei to the back of Tim Howard’s net in a clinical counterattack. Dempsey will rightfully get the credit, as will Joevin Jones, who tallied his sixth assist of the season, but Nicolas Lodeiro catalyzed the entire sequence with his impetus in attack and finished it with his off-the-ball movement in front of goal.

After Marlon Hairston crossed in a ball from the left side of the field that Frei snagged, Frei unleashed a long outlet pass. Lodeiro received it in traffic, and after playing through an advantage call on a foul, he nutmegged Bismark Boateng and immediately turned up field.

Lodeiro picked out left winger Jones, who was already sprinting into acres of space.

Rather than sit back while Jones attacked, Lodeiro made a half-field run in support. When Jones was roughly 30 yards from goal, there were four defenders in front of him. Lodeiro recognized this, split them and raced toward the corner flag.

Look at where Lodeiro’s trailing run took him.

His off-the-ball movement instinctively dragged Mike da Fonte (No. 2) out of position and, more importantly, away from Dempsey in the middle.

A final subtle reason why Dempsey was so open as well was because of how much Will Bruin stretched the Rapids’ back line. One of the most underrated aspects of a true No. 9, even more than holding up the ball and collecting balls over the top, is the ability to push defenders deeper and create pockets of space for teammates to work in behind.

Bruin drew the attention of both Mekeil Williams and Eric Miller, and with da Fonte effectively taken out of the play, there was plenty of space for the United States’ second all-time leading goalscorer to bag his sixth tally of the year.

Dempsey did what Dempsey does, but the opportunity was created by Jones' penetrating run, Lodeiro's movement and Bruin's depth.