Rodrigo and Weston McKennie combined for Leeds United to score the most textbook Sam Allardyce goal you could possibly think of.
A long throw assist in 2023. No, seriously.
Not only that, though. A long throw assisted by an American, finished off by a Spaniard with a touch of class and expertise within a penalty area full of chaos.
It’s exactly that chaos that probably sums up Leeds’ 2022-23 season. It started with Jesse Marsch at the helm, desperately trying to keep alight the flame that Marcelo Bielsa in a time before COVID-19. It derailed into an ugly spiral of losses and draws, an incredibly bizarre appointment in the form of Javi Gracia, and has ended with them smashing the Big Sam button.
Love or loathe Allardyce, that is not the sign of a successful season in 2023. Quite the opposite.
But with him has come a renewed sense of optimism around Leeds. Blind optimism, perhaps. But optimism nonetheless. And fun, if nothing else.
With Nottingham Forest confirming their Premier League safety earlier on in the weekend with a win against Arsenal, the pressure was on. Leeds travelled to West Ham knowing the games are running out and, consequently, so too are their chances of pulling off the great escape.
Having arrived to the London Stadium having not won a game in the capital all season, things looked bleak. They needed a moment of magic. But my word did they get that.
Around 16 minutes or so have been played, and the ball goes into touch in the West Ham half. Weston McKennie heads to the touchline and grabs the ball.
It’s been a rough old time for the Juventus loanee. Low on confidence himself, he was brought into the Leeds squad in January by Marsch – who was then sacked – and left to pick up the pieces by settling in immediately and steering them to safety. But a moment of brilliance is sometimes all you need for your fortunes to change.
McKennie takes a few steps back on the touchline, before beginning his mini-sprint forward and hurling the ball towards West Ham’s 18-yard box. Anything will do here, lads. Just win the first and second. Keep it alive.
Rodrigo thought otherwise. Unmarked and creeping in from the back, Leeds’ talisman latched onto the end of the throw-in spectacularly, rifling the ball into the back of the net with no remorse.
WHAT A GOAL! 🚀🚀🚀
Rodrigo fires Leeds ahead with this brilliant strike ⚪ pic.twitter.com/OtV2ntgtFe
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 21, 2023
Oosh. Have it. Two for a volley, he must’ve heard.
A long throw, a bit of chaos and a bit of class at the end of it? That’s a textbook Big Sam goal. Proper technique on that throw as well, mind you. Maybe it’s an American thing. We could learn something there, as Premier League fans.
Unfortunately for Leeds, the ‘two for a volley’ rule has never made it out of the local astro, meaning their relegation battle is still very much on.
But such a moment can often be the spark for something marvellous. They’ve bought into what Allardyce is all about. Some of them have, anyway. Less said about the defending, the better.
It’s still all to play for down there in the dog-fight that is the Premier League relegation battle, which at this point has twisted and turned more times than a prime Jeff Hardy hurling himself off something ridiculously high.
When it all comes down to it, though, and the whistle blows for the final time this season next Sunday afternoon, Leeds will have lived or died by Weston McKennie’s long throw-in assist. And no matter the outcome, that is a sensational bit of Barclays.