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Goal Breakdown: Jefferson Savarino, magical beast, caps counterattacking move

A quick counterattack led to an RSL victory.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Jefferson Savarino’s goal on Saturday is up for Goal of the Week, and rightly so.

It was a fantastic effort from the Venezuelan from a difficult angle, but it was more than just that. All the highlights start with Joao Plata, but we should go further back.

Real Salt Lake had actually just flung in a free kick that was sent away from Portland’s defensive third, and a smart header from Danilo Acosta finds Joao Plata back in a defensive position. It was a very bright play, and without it, this goal wouldn’t have come at this precise moment.

In addition to the value of the counterattack, you really get to see Yura Movsisyan’s impact on the goal. The ball into him is one you would have seen to, say, Alvaro Saborio — and the result is a perfect hold-up striker’s flicked pass into Albert Rusnak. (At least, I’m convinced it’s a flicked pass, but I accept it could have been the defender.)

Further, you can see how Rusnak’s earlier goal has adjusted the way Portland’s defending this approach play. You have several players making sure that he doesn’t get a shot on goal, and that makes a difference in how this plays out. Now, nobody is really in a position to defender Savarino, save in the circumstance where he steps toward the inside. If he tries to go to the end line, he’s not in much of a position to do anything.

The way I see this, Savarino has just a few options here, and he takes the most difficult of them. He could look toward Tony Beltran, who’s running in, and reset the attack; he could find Luke Mulholland, who’s in a position for a shot from deep; or he can take a shot. Of course, he takes the shot.

My favorite part is probably when Savarino takes a simple half-step away from goal, giving him a better angle. It’s a clear indication that he was looking specifically to shoot, and really, that’s probably what Jeff Attinella is expecting. He sees where space has opened up for a shot, and it seems like he’s ready for that.

Except, well, he’s not ready for that shot. He might be ready for a straight-on shot, but he’s not ready for a tremendous, looping effort. He can never be ready for that.

This goal was counterattacking football at its best.