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Anatomy of a Goal - Elis Goes Coast to Coast

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

With four wins in their opening five games of the MLS season, the Dynamo are starting to show teams around the league just how dangerous they can be in 2019. And no one is more dangerous, perhaps in all of Major League Soccer, than Alberth Elis. In this “Anatomy of a Goal” I’ll take a look at Elis’ coast to coast dash that opened the scoring for Houston, en route to a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon.

Boniek Garcia breaks up a San Jose attack and Maynor Figueroa sends the ball wide to Alberth Elis. This is where the goal begins, Elis with the ball, a good 90 yards from goal.

Elis now pushes the ball further out in front to try and create some space and allow himself to reach top speed. On a counter-attack there is usually acres of space to run in to and Elis does so well in the open field by taking bigger touches and sprinting, instead of taking short, compact dribbles.

Elis has now crossed midfield and is being challenged by San Jose midfielder Jackson Yueill. Elis begins to cut across Yeuill to bring Mauro Manotas in to the play. Manotas has begun his supporting run and we’ll see in the next image just how well he reads the play and reads what Elis wants to do.

Supporting runs by Marlon Hairston and Tomas Martinez begin to develop through channels on the other end of the play (as we discussed in the last Anatomy of a Goal) but this play was destined for just Elis and Manotas. Elis has now shrugged off the challenge of Yueill and space has opened up to his right. This is the run Manotas makes to not only get free but to clear the area back to the middle for Elis to run in to. Manotas has become a great goal scorer but his vision and runs on a play like this show the complete player he is becoming.

The supporting runs continue to help keep the San Jose defense honest, but Manotas only has eyes for Elis. Before even taking a touch, Manotas has spotted Elis run and found the pass he needs to make.

We can see from this opposite angle just how tight the window is for Manotas to find Elis. We can also see how he had to have a perfect weight on the pass to avoid multiple San Jose defenders from putting an end to a great build up.

Manotas’ pass finds Elis in perfect stride, and after missing some glorious chances early on, the Honduran isn’t going to miss from here.

A close up of Elis’ shot shows how he perfectly opens his hips to take the first time shot. This allows him to get a solid strike on the ball as well as send it back to the near post away from Earthquakes keeper Daniel Vega’s natural movement.

Elis tucks it away and wheels off for another panther celebration. Manotas looks to the crowd to bask in the great combination play they’ve just pulled off.

The Dynamo in 2019 continue to find ways to beat teams and the opener against San Jose was with the tried and true counter attack. When Alberth Elis has the ball in the open field, there aren’t many players in MLS who can keep up with him, much less stop him. The counter has been such a huge weapon for the Dynamo under Wilmer Cabrera and this goal showed how beautiful it can be.