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Pass or shot?: Kemar Lawrence's match-winner for New York Red Bulls against Chicago Fire

Taxi scored a great goal, but did he mean to?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

On April 29, 2017, Kemar Lawrence scored the second goal of his career with New York Red Bulls: a 71st-minute strike that ultimately edged RBNY to a 2-1 win over Chicago Fire.

It was a good goal: under pressure, Lawrence conjured a confident, side-footed jab to the far post that...well, that we're not accustomed to seeing from him. In his time with RBNY, Lawrence has tended to be a pass-first, shoot-only-when-unavoidable sort of player, and when he does shoot, it often serves as a reminder that he's well advised to look for the pass first.

Once A Metro was so unfamiliar with the situation, a cry for help was issued.

And help arrived:

The "Kemar didn't mean to score" hypothesis was supported by no less an authority on goal-scoring than Bradley Wright-Phillips, who told RBNY's 91st Minute segment: "Great to see Kemar again with another great performance and a goal. I think he was trying to pass to me, but still a goal."

Lawrence's goal was such a curiosity, questions about his intent made their way into the team's post-game media chats. Goalkeeper Luis Robles was a little further away from it than BWP, so he deftly side-stepped the invitation to speculate:

It was a goal, that's all that matters. The last three games, Kemar has been unbelievable and when you look at that level of play, that's something that we expect out of him. And when he plays like that, there aren't too many other left backs in this league that can keep up with him.
Jesse Marsch deferred to Lawrence, but also noted the goal came from a situation the Red Bulls are quite deliberately seeking to engineer:
I'll let him tell you that. But I'll also say this: He played a ball that was similar to that in Atlanta, right, and it ended up in an own goal. Whether it was -- that's part of the idea when you play balls like that is to make them threatening but also potentially balls that can go into the goal.
Similar to the goal Lawrence created in Atlanta, no question.

The scorer himself credited his coach in part for the goal, telling MSG Networks' Tina Cervasio that it was the result of the team's analysis of Chicago 'keeper Jorge Bava and the effort in training to get the players into habits that might challenge the Fire's glove-man:
As soon as I saw that space, I'm just trying to get into space, trying to get a cross at first - but everything was taken away; so I just said I'm going to try for the far corner, low and hard. Because all week this week, we've been shooting balls low, because we watched a couple of clips on the goalkeeper and he doesn't get down there too well so I was just trying to put it in the corner, and I did that.
A win to dedicate to the RBNY coaching staff's opposition research, it would seem.

What do you think? Was it a pass or a shot that got Taxi his goal?