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Jordan Allen scores fantastic goal, but run-up was even better

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Allen's impact in Real Salt Lake's second goal was more than just an excellent finish — it was a combination of everything you want a player to do.

1. Control and build-up on the right side

Allen's combination play with Tony Beltran on the right side as they double up opened up an option, as you see in the moving picture below. But more than that, you'll also see that his stepping back to open space and look for a pass conveys an understanding that's rare for a player his age. He's probably capable of beating both players on the ball and venturing further up the right side, but instead, he's aware of Devon Sandoval's movement.

For all the flack that Sandoval sometimes gets, his role here was vital. He's checked toward the ball, he's taken a good touch that keeps the ball away from the opponent, and he's setting up to maintain possession.

2. Sandoval maintains possession

That very thing Sandoval set out to do, he's done. He's kept possession of the ball and looked for a pass, and Javier Morales presents the perfect opportunity — he's backed away from the defender. At the tail end of this clip, you'll see Jordan Allen raise his hand, signaling what comes next. He's kept his run going all the way from the right side, and he's not bursting in so much as he's easing into the box. This keeps attention off him, and the timing is excellent for an incoming cross.

3. A perfect header, but great late runs, too

With three defenders in the box in good positions to mark Allen, it's telling that none of them have — they're instead more focused on clearing the cross away. As a result, Devon Sandoval is the player being targeted (he's more obvious, I guess?) and John Stertzer's late run has disrupted things further. In the end, you have three defenders centrally and four RSL players in the box, giving Toronto a very difficult job. The end result? Well, it's beautiful.