Finlay Scoring against Bendik

In the Moment: Ethan Finlay

A lot goes down on the pitch in any given match. Each week, we’ll be talking to one player about one specific play from last week’s match and letting them give an inside view of the play as it developed.

This week, Ethan Finlay is going over his opening strike from the team’s 2-1 win over Orlando City.

Ethan Finlay: [Christian Ramirez’s first touch] is underrated. It’s underrated. He’s the unsung hero a little bit on this play. Some people might think, “Oh, he’s getting doubled here, he’s just trying to hit.” He knows exactly where I’m at.

Here, I take a good peek. I know that Kev [Molino] is here, behind me. I’m not going to be able to take that down with that defender right there.

For me here, I’m just trying to run across this line. I’m trying to time it as much as I can. I don’t know the defender. I know he’s back there, but I don’t know how quick he’s stepping in that moment. I have to rely on Kev to be able to play that, and have the ability and the vision to play it one touch.

Kev could easily go by this guy. But he’s letting this drop so that he can play a ball on the ground. If he plays it before that, it’s going to be a bouncing ball. It’s going to be a much more difficult ball for me to take. And as you see, this ball, as he waits, and just catches it right on the hop. It’s perfect timing. That’s what your club coach would say, wait until the ball drops and then you pass it that way.

You just have to kind of feel and know where the line is. And I’ve done a pretty good job of it over the last seven years — to just be on the back shoulder of guys, to run the line. And it’s somewhat instinct, it’s somewhat luck, don’t get me wrong. But you have to continue to do it over 90 minutes. And there’s plenty other runs that I’ll have in this game, and throughout the season where I’ll be offside on some, I’ll be a tad late. The timing all has to come together. And this is a great play because I think the timing is just, I mean, it’s perfect, obviously.

And there’s so many elements to it. There’s Christian’s ball, my header to Kev and then his one-touch ball. Again, if he takes a touch, I’m offside, the play is dead.

And then in this moment right here, it’s just been about a little bit of composure. And I’ve talked a little bit to JP [Goalkeeper Coach John Pascarella] about this, because I think he saw I was frustrated last week with just simple finishing. Sometimes you just need to see the ball hit the back of the net. And in this moment here, Johnny Torres — one of my assistants at Creighton for a long, long time — he always talked about just taking a deep breath.

As I took that touch, I take a little peek up. I know Joe [Bendik] goes down pretty early often, and to just kind of lift it, just a tad bit, with the left foot, and then put it away. And in a way, make it look easy. Which isn’t an easy play, anyone would tell you that it takes a little bit of cojones. It felt so good in the moment, and I felt so composed.

I’ve been in this league too long to not know what defenders and what goalkeepers are going to do, and what their tendencies are, what foot they are. Those are all important things, and you have to do your research, watch video. Joe [Bendik] is a guy, he probably had six saves of the week last year. And it’s because he makes these kind of saves in these kind of moments a lot.