This is the first of what will hopefully become a regular feature through the season here at Waking the Red, where we take a microscope to a particular incident, a goal or other highlight, and try and break down how it happened. There's often a lot more to a goal than a simple 'this player passed to this player in space and he scored', whether it's off the ball runs to pull the opposition out of position, defensive assignments missed, a sudden change of pace or direction, or many other things, there's usually something that happens to break a team open and get a scoring chance, and that's what we'll try and spotlight.
I'll start with Luis Silva's goal against the Galaxy from Wednesday night, here's the goal, I'll get into the minutiae after the jump.
Teams these days are usually well schooled defensively and when set up in their preferred formation, whatever that may be, are difficult to break down. You can try the Italian/South American way of getting through by patiently passing and probing until a weakness is exposed, the (somewhat outdated) stereotypical British battering ram approach of attacking as hard and as quickly as you can, or something in between, but it's why so many goals are scored on counter attacks, when a team is unprepared, out of position and forced to react with their wits. Something generally needs to happen to cause the bit of chaos needed to break down the organised defence.
For this goal, that something was a TFC corner. The usual positions are abandoned as big Centre Backs go forward to try and win a header, and the defence is generally collapsed in on itself defending the penalty area. In this case, the corner was cleared and both sides flood out of the box to get back to their usual positions or chase down the ball, and eventually the ball comes to Torsten Frings wide on the right, just inside the half.
As the ball comes to Frings, LA are in decent shape defensively, the back 4 are very tight along the top of the box, Sean Franklin furthest right, keeping an eye on Ryan Johnson lurking behind him on the Left Wing, Andrew Boyens and A.J DeLaGarza marking players in the middle, and Todd Dunivant staying close to his Centre Backs while also keeping an eye on Joao Plata running down the right. Mike Magee is a little more advanced and wide on the left to block a pass down the wing to Plata, Edson Buddle has also come over to that side to challenge Frings. Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane are further up the pitch, ready to challenge for the ball if Frings decided for a more conservative possession retaining approach, so not really a part of this breakdown.
For TFC, most players have retreated back to their field positions, leaving the 4 attacking players in what you'd expect to be their normal positions, Johnson, Koevermans and Plata furthest forward stretched along the top of the penalty area, with Luis Silva a little further back. The key man in all of this, the game changer that introduces the necessary bit of chaos is Ty Harden. Up for the corner, he obviously recognises the chance that a follow up cross might come into the box, so stays up there in hopes of winning the header.
Now usually one of the Centre Backs could mark Koevermans with his partner left to mark space, cover any additional runs into the box and provide a back up in case things go wrong. DeLaGarza did mark Koevermans, but Boyens had to worry about Harden, and the usual numerical advantage the defence enjoys was wiped out.
As Frings swung the ball in, Koevermans runs to the right, and DeLaGarza follows him, Harden more or less just stands still at the top of the box, now a yard or two behind the forwards, and Boyens stays with him, Sean Franklin stayed with his man Ryan Johnson out wide, and thus there was suddenly a big gap in the middle of defence and Luis Silva ran right into it. So far, there's nothing wrong with the defending, everyone's stayed with their man, and that gap, created by the extra man of Ty Harden and smart movement (or lack of) from him and Koevermans, isn't in and of itself a problem.
What made it a huge problem for L.A was the fact that Juninho, in the Defensive Midfield spot, apparently decided to also mark Harden, which allowed Silva to escape behind him and Boyens didn't react to the danger in time and track Silva's run. Thus Silva had a free header, in probably about 5 yards of space roughly 15 yards away from goal, which really should never happen. Goalie Josh Saunders can't be blamed, his positioning was perfect, making sure there was no gap at the near post, and that Silva would have to get a perfect header just inside the far post to get by him.
That's exactly what Silva did, a fantastic header from a pinpoint cross from Frings. Give the unseen assist though to Ty Harden, and Juninho.