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Anatomy of a Goal - Counter-Attacking 101

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Class was in session on Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium. With the Houston Dynamo leading the Texas Derby 1-0 in the second half, Houston got what turned out to be the winning goal with a masterclass on counter-attacking. We’ve gone over a few textbook counter-attacking goals this season but Mauro Manotas’ second goal on Saturday has us now working towards our master’s degree.

The goal starts from an FC Dallas corner kick. The Dynamo win the corner and we see the ball headed away by a defender. Six yards from their own goal, the Dynamo now go forward.

After the ball is headed out of the Houston box, Tomas Martinez does well to keep possession, winning a 50/50 ball here. Without this, the play and goal never happen.

After Martinez wins the ball, he continues his run forward and Boniek Garcia nods a header back to the Argentine. Alberth Elis sees the play beginning to open up and starts his run forward. The Dynamo attack is on.

With Martinez on the ball, he looks left to find Elis. Martinez knows Elis is going to be involved and with his pace and skill on the ball, is the key to most Dynamo counter-attacks. Boniek and Memo Rodriguez now start their runs in the channels to Martinez’s right.

Martinez gets the ball wide to Elis as the attack crosses midfield. The Dynamo have numbers here with 5 in the attack against Dallas’ 3 defenders. This is where Elis shows just how intelligent and skilled he is.

The Honduran cuts inside, making his defender move his hips to defend the dribble. Now Elis can look up and see 3 Dynamo players making a run against the 2 Dallas players.

Elis’ pass comes to Mauro Manotas but the Colombian wisely dummies the ball, with Memo Rodriguez behind him in yards of space. Boniek has dragged his defender inside and with Manotas performing a dummy to occupy his defender, Rodriguez is left all alone.

Rodriguez drives forward as Manotas points out where he wants the pass. Manotas has expertly gotten away from his marker and a run to the penalty spot is wide open.

As Rodriguez is ready to find Manotas, Dallas has players back, meaning Memo must hit his pass with pace to beat the defender in front of him. He does just this, whipping it between 3 Dallas players.

The pass finds the feet of Manotas and his one touch finish beats Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez. 2-0 Houston.

We’ve seen the counter produce beautiful results, but this goal brought even the neutral observer to their feet. Elis and Manotas are a joy to watch when they have the ball in the open field and Memo Rodriguez’s development has made the Dynamo attack even more potent. The Dynamo will be hard pressed to score a more aesthetically pleasing goal this season, but they picked a great game to do it in.