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Ball Striking

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Game Understanding

The Red Bulls offense exploded on the road this week, with a huge 4-0 win against Inter Miami keeping their playoff hopes alive as they enter the final stretch.

Patrick Klimala’s 18th minute opener was an excellent example of last week’s Game Understanding, with the striker receiving the ball on the move from a pass intended to break lines

However, all three of Red Bulls’ other goals came from headers – some from open play, and others from set pieces.

Although many readers in our audience may still be too young to head the ball in both practice and games, it’s never too early to start thinking about effective positioning and technique.

This week, we’ll talk about attacking heading, but first, enjoy the Red Bulls big win here

Pay specific attention to the three headed goals, and then challenge yourself with the three questions below:

  1. For the second goal of the game (2 mins 22 secs), what do you notice about Omir Fernandez’s run? What is he waiting to see before he makes this run, and why does he do this?
  2. For Fabio’s first, Red Bulls second headed goal, and their third of the game overall (5 mins 25 secs), where is he trying to redirect the ball? Why does he try to aim the ball in this specific direction? 
  3. For Fabio’s second headed goal of the game, and Red Bulls fourth (6 mins 21 secs), watch carefully at his movement when Kyle Duncan wins the ball in the wide area. Where does Fabio start, where does he move to, and why?

Answers at the bottom of the page!

Game Understanding Answers

  1. Tom Edwards’ throw-in somehow evades FIVE Inter Miami defenders, and bounces TWICE before it makes its way to the back post (both of these are very bad, by the way). Fernandez holds his run until the last possible second, ensuring he doesn’t arrive at his spot too early. This allows him to time his run to perfection, so he arrives at speed and has the advantage over the final defender.
  2. Firstly, it is important to try to head the ball downwards when looking to score. This is the most difficult spot for a goalkeeper to reach, as it can be hard for them to get down quickly to save low shots. In this instance, Fabio also tries to redirect the ball back across goal, in the direction it came from. This uses the goalkeeper’s momentum against him, as he is travelling in the opposite direction.
  3. Fabio’s initial run had taken him to a near post position, where he was expecting a low driven cross to be delivered. When it was blocked, he instead moved to the back post, expecting a different type of delivery, so he could attack the ball from behind the defender. There are a lot of terms to learn here, but some of the most important are anticipating the cross (guessing where it will go), recycling his run (moving a second time when the first is unsuccessful), and getting on the blind side of the defender (where they can’t see him).