I was at the game tonight and actually had a great vantage point for Hassli’s (once again) stunning injury time equalizer against Toronto tonight in the Amway Canadian Championship thingy. My immediate reaction was exactly the same as my nine year old son. We both just looked at each other with our jaws dropped and laughed. But by the time the replays were being shown on the big screen I was already thinking, ‘Right, who screwed up to allow that goal.’
Because the reality is that virtually all goals are preventable. All goals have some point either in the build up or the final phase where something could have been done defensively to prevent the goal from happening. I actually keep intending to start a running segment on here called, “That should never have gone in.” and do video analysis breaking down a goal or two every week. I pointed to a feature on the MLS.com site that does a good job of this and I tried my hand at it a few times but got burned by YouTube after spending hours breaking down the Manchester United drubbing of Arsenal earlier in the EPL season on a video I made with extensive annotations. It was up for mere hours before a copyright claim saw it taken down.
But the replays shown didn’t give away any immediate defensive lapses so I thought I’d have a look when I got home. I’ve done that now and unless you want to get incredibly nit-picky, there was very little Toronto FC could have done to stop this ball going in.
Have a look:
Right from the quickly taken free kick they pressure the ball. Rochat is tracked quite decently by a TFC defender as he plays a give and go with Chiumiento. While he has a step on his mark, he’s still pressured and his touch has to be just right as another TFC defender steps forward to pressure him while making it very difficult for Rochat to play the ball to the wide player. This choice to cut out the wide option though fatally (for TFC) led to Rochat having to cross the ball.
Meanwhile two other TFC defenders hold a fairly high line and mark up well against LeToux and Mattocks. The third TFC defender, Doneil Henry, has dropped slightly but is sitting far enough inside that even when the quickly released cross from Rochat does come over he’s in a position to get to Hassli and pressure him. He can’t rush in and throw himself at Hassli to block the shot. That would mean totally overcommitting and Hassli would have recognized it and taken a touch inside him to set up a much easier shot. Henry stays inside, blocking the far post so that if Hassli is indeed going to strike it with his first touch he’s taken half the goal away and leaving Hassli only the near post to hit. And of course he does just that. With venom.
Can you blame Milos Kocic for the goal. No. No you cannot. He’s well positioned and set for the shot but all that is irrelevant. A shot moving that fast from that distance is not going to be stopped unless it’s right at the keeper.
The Whitecaps, after playing like the game was both beneath their dignity and beyond their ability for 90 minutes created a goal that was pretty much indefensible. The touches by Rochat and Chiumiento to set up the cross to Hassli were spot on and couldn’t realistically have been defended much better. Rochat’s ball in went where it had to go with a trajectory and pace that allowed Hassli to meet it at the angle it had to be at to work.
Having just watched the Match of the Day EPL Goal of the year competition, I can safely say this was easily in the top three (Crouch’s volley against Man City, Hatem Ben Arfa’s solo run against Bolton and Cisse’s first time strike against Chelsea last month) of the top ten in that competition.
UPDATE: Having looked at the video again, after Cutleron’s comment below, particularly at the 29 second mark, I’d have to say Henry was definitely a contributing factor to the goal. If he’d held the line with Cann he would have forced Hassli to either push further back to find space to receive the ball or he’d have been in a position to contest the cross with him and prevent Hassli from allowing the cross to drop low enough to volley (ie. it would have been an aerial challenge between Henry and Hassli and Hassli would probably not have scored on a header from that distance).