ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 3, 2017) — Georgi Hristov’s goal against Toronto FC II on Saturday night may have looked simple, but it was the result of an astonishing 25 pass build-up that lasted more than a minute without TFC II getting a touch on the ball.
See the full play below.
Let’s take a closer look at how it all came together.
It must be pointed out that the Rowdies had a man advantage during this sequence as TFC II defender Lars Eckenrode was off the field due to an injury a moment earlier and his replacement, Brandon Onkony, hadn’t yet entered the match.
How did the Rowdies take advantage of facing a short-handed team? Tampa Bay did it by playing patiently and forcing the defenders to shuffle side-to-side often as the Rowdies worked the ball seamlessly from touchline to touchline. Seventeen of the 25 passes were with either the first or second touch, showing the Rowdies’ emphasis on playing quickly.
Nine different Rowdies had a touch on the ball during the build-up to the goal, with only Damion Lowe and Akira Fitzgerald watching as spectators. Neill Collins served as the primary switcher of play at the back, receiving the ball from one wing and quickly passing it to the other wing.
The play begins when Joe Cole intercepts a lazy pass from Toronto’s Jason Hernandez near the left touchline. Cole immediately gives the ball to Leo Fernandes and the Rowdies don’t concede possession until Hristov’s goal more than a minute later.
Of the 25 passes in the sequence, Cole completed five, while Marcel Schäfer, Darnell King and Collins had four each. Michael Nanchoff had three, including the key assist on a well-spotted opening to Hristov, who’s only involvement in the play was slipping between defenders and scoring.
Fernandes had two passes in the sequence, but perhaps his most important contribution was dummying Nanchoff’s assist and letting it run cleanly to Hristov, catching TFC II off guard and allowing Georgi to score his second goal of the season.