Part of what makes soccer, or football in much of the world, the world’s most popular sport is the creativity that is involved in the play. But Kyoto Sanga FC took that creativity to a whole other level in its Japanese League match with Yokohama FC this past Tuesday.
Up 1-0 late in the first half, Kyoto Sanga FC went deep into its playbook. Or it ripped off the “Flying V” made famous in The Mighty Ducks. However you want to characterize it, Sanga FC decided to get a bit crazy with its free kick just inside the Yokohoma FC penalty box with a five-player misdirection, which finally resulted in a goal by Yosuke Ishibitsu on a powerful smash to the upper right hand corner of the goal. Sanga started with six players congregated in a bit of a skewed single file line just outside the box. It just got weirder from there.
The process started with defender Yusuke Higa running toward the ball from the left first, stepping in front of it and fading toward the right. Midfielder Hiroki Nakayama was next, leaping over the ball, an action that was repeated by the third player in Sanga’s line, defender Ryusuke Sakai. As the fourth man, midfielder Shigeru Yokotani, got set to address the ball, it seemed like he was going to repeat what Nakayama and Sakai did and leap over the ball. Yokotani did that, but in the process he tapped the ball with the bottom of his foot to activate the indirect kick. By this point Yokohama FC was completely confused, as its wall was standing there trying to figure out what was going on. Well, everyone except for one Yokohama defender.
One Yokohama defender kept creeping in closer with every Sanga player that ran towards the ball. Once Yokotani tapped it, he decided to run toward the ball in an attempt to slidetackle the ball before it was shot. However, all this did was give Sanga’s fifth player, Ishibitsu, an open look through the wall that he could shoot through. Ishibitsu beat the sliding Yokohama defender to the ball, unleashing a missile that the Yokohama goalkeeper had no shot of defending.
So what was the motivation for Sanga’s funny football goal? Was the strategy behind the funny play to cause the wall to break up and give the shooter an open shot? Was it to confuse the wall so it just stood there meekly? Or was it just an attempt to ruffle a rival opponent and entertain itself and its fans? Whatever the motivation was, the result was outstanding — a big goal in a victory over a rival side, not to mention a soccer goal moment that will last for years.