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Savannah McCaskill finding signature move for Angel City FC

Midfielder is on a roll and there’s a common theme.

Soccer: International Friendly Soccer-Tigres UANL at Angel City FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Savannah McCaskill is Angel City FC’s leading scorer and is in the midst of her best season as a professional to date, with six goals and an assist across all competitive games, plus an additional goal in a friendly.

Lately, McCaskill’s scored more often, with Christen Press out for the season and Sydney Leroux and Simone Charley in and out of the lineup as they deal with injuries. She’s scored in five of her last seven matches, so all but one of her goals this year, which was Angel City’s first-ever goal.

But what’s notable lately is the manner in which McCaskill has been scoring. Here’s her last goal, at the weekend in the 1-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars:

And here was her goal against Tigres last Wednesday in ACFC’s first friendly at The Banc:

And here’s another goal, from June:

See a pattern here?

McCaskill has been scoring just two ways this year: Her other goals have come either directly on a penalty kick or in a rebound off a penalty. But this is the trend that’s pretty explicit of late for her goals, making a late run to the far post and crashing the goal.

It seems to be picking up lately, which makes sense. Again, with the central strikers going down and Freya Coombe needing to look for new solutions in attack, the team has gone from a far more “hero ball” approach at the start of the campaign, with Press funneled the ball and left to try and dribble through defenses, to one where the team is getting more crisp with the outside-in play, making use of the wingers and forwards-turned-fullbacks getting into the final third and hitting well-timed crosses to the players making the late runs into the box.

This seems to be the best use of McCaskill’s skills on Angel City, too. While she is a high chance creator and clearly has an eye as a playmaker, she hasn’t ever been an assist maker in any real numbers in her career, with eight in 78 career NWSL games. And I think there’s a big enough sample size with Angel City of trying to play the attack through her in the middle to say that’s not a fruitful answer for this group.

But a midfielder who both makes the run into the box on a regular basis, and a player who understands space well enough to convert the crosses being sprayed her way on the doorstep, this seems to be the way to make the most of her and still allow the likes of Charley, Leroux, Claire Emslie and Jun Endo to do what they are good at without forcing big adjustments.

Only 26, McCaskill is on her fourth team in the NWSL, and while I would not necessarily say that’s an indictment on her, it’s clear she’s a player with potential who has maybe needed a tweak to get the best out of her. After a week in which she crashed goal twice on late runs to win two games 1-0, we may finally be seeing the unlocking of the best of Savannah McCaskill.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.