Before the Union do battle tonight in Foxboro, I figured this would be a good time to compile a personal list of favorite Union goals* since year Zolo.
(*For the record, Zach Pfeffer's goal in a 2012 preseason match would be number one if I'd seen it. No one saw it really; it's become the stuff of legends purely from the description. But I'm sure I'd love it if I ever saw it. Because Zach Pfeffer is awesome.)
10. Sebastien Le Toux vs. DC United, 2010 (the second one in the video)
The first goal on the list is special chiefly because it came in our first home game, and it announced the arrival of Le Toux as the Union's talisman. But the other special piece of this goal isn't so much the great shot taken by number 9; it's the pinpoint through ball by Alejandro Moreno that splits two DC defenders and finds Le TOux who had been sprints a good 30 yards to collect the gift and safelt deposit it into the far corner.
9. Gabriel Gomez vs. Chicago Fire, 2012
UPPER 90! Michael Farfan kicks a long ball to an open Jack McInerney, who heads the ball into the path of the sprinting Gabriel Gomez. The Panamanian one-times a shot that flies like a cruise missile past a helpless Sean Johnson into the net. The angle at which Gomez took this and the gorgeous trajectory of the shot is what makes this one stand out in my mind. I understand why we couldn't keep Gomez on the roster, but I always enjoyed watching him play when he was healthy.
For 5 minutes, Danny Cruz became Danny Messi. The oft-maligned winger took a poor bicycle kick clearance from a Seattle defender, chested it down, and smashed a low shot on the short hop that somehow found its way into the left corner of the net. I went through a lot of emotions that moment sitting in Section 136: bewilderment, disbelief, ecstacy, and then uncontrollable laughter. Like a Reno Mahe long return or Matt Stairs clutch home run, it's a play that amazes not just because of the skill involved, but the sheer probability of it occurring.
7. Michael Farfan vs. DC United, 2011
Farfan collects a pass from Roger Torres, avoids a timely tackle, and charges towards the goal. When the DC defense refuses to close him down, Michael thanks them kindly by rocketing a shot with his weak foot into the top left corner of the net. It's a great individual moment from Marfan, but it's one of many DC LOL moments that have helped the Union score some quality goals, like number 10 on this list and a McInerney goal from earlier this year that made the Honorable Mention list.
6. Roger Torres vs. Colorado Rapids, 2011
I've been critical of Torres in the past, but his prowess in the final third is something that I've always found a joy to watch. Gabe Farfan supplies a long ball to Torres in the ball, who does a fantastic job using his first touch to keep the ball away from the two defenders shadowing him. He turns one defender, dribbles towards the center of the 18, cuts in front of an oncoming Marvell Wynne, and rifles a shot before another defender attempts to dispossess him. The ball deflects off Matt Pickens' fingertips and hits the top right corner of the net. It may have only been a consolation goal, but Roger did his part to send fans home with some sense of satisfaction.
The Union haven't played the most aesthetic brand of soccer during its four seasons of existence, but this was the rare occurence where the club managed to score my favorite type of goal: the teamwork goal. Le Toux plays a one-two with Alejandro Moreno and ends up near the 18 yard box. He makes another one-touch pass to Danny Mwanga, who was entrenched just inside the 18 with a defender draped on his back. Mwanga manages to hold the ball (one of the reasons we took him with our first ever draft pick). We'll never know if Mwanga meant to lay the ball off, or simply lost the ball and Le Toux figured he'd seen enough. Either way, Le Toux smashes a shot just outside the 18 that curls around the outstretched hands of Matt Reis into the back of the net. Just gorgeous stuff.
The first amusing part of the video is the local Galaxy announcers talking a scoreless first half while Michael Farfan speeds towards the touchline. Farfan manages a short low cross that JackMac side-flicks into the far side of the net for the opening goal. The "highlight" of this highlight is Joe Saunders scrambling on his belly trying to retrieve the ball top-spinning its way across the six yard box. Most people will remember the Farfan winner late in stoppage time, but the image of Saunders looking quite so foolish is the one that'll always stay with me, mainly because I love it when players make goalkeepers look silly. Plus, is it me or are McInerney goal celebrations a lot more entertaining when they occur away from PPL Park?
3. Carlos Ruiz vs. Chicago Fire, 2012
My hatred for Carlos Ruiz is endless. It isn't so much because he's a unrepentant flopper, but he flops so much every ref watching him know he's doing it so they've been ignoring it for a decade now. He's like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, except I wish the townspeople sent more wolves to eat the boy instead of merely ignore him. I hated him before he suited up for us, while he wore the blue and gold, and now while he lounges on the DC United bench. I can't deny the greatness of this 30 yard volley, however. The fact that Ruiz does it with his weak foot makes it more special, and Twellman's shrill laugh during the replay (and his apt advice of"screw it") always makes me chuckle.
2. Michael Farfan vs. Real Madrid, 2011
Like I said earlier, I love a helpless-looking goalkeeper, and few things are better in soccer than a keeper realizing he's off his line just as it's too late (See: Ronaldinho vs. David Seaman). It's an absolutely gorgeous and audacious chip by Farfan; one that he's tried numerous times to replicate in games and failed every time. This goal has more views on Youtube than perhaps all of the other goals on the list combined, perhaps due to the fact that this match was an exhibition match involving one of the world's most storied clubs. It served as a healthy reminder, not just to foreigners but to American eurosnobs as well, that while MLS might not be of the same quality as any of the top European leagues, it can still produce the same magic goals that you might see on any given weekend morning.
1. Sebastien Le Toux vs. Houston, 2010
My favorite goal of all time is Dennis Bergkamp at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina. In three touches, the Non-flying Dutchman showed what it takes to be a world class striker. One touch to stop the ball, one touch to keep the ball away from the defender, and the final touch to beat the keeper and score. Methodical with a side order of deadly. Le Toux is not exactly a world class striker, but his goal against the Dynamo only needed two touches. One touch to keep the ball away from Geoff Cameron, and another to beat the keeper (and leave him helpless, yay!). Both goals require pinpoint crosses from Frank De Boer and Roger Torres, both goals involve expert finishing, and both goals have great non-English announcing calls.
So, thoughts on the list? I added a poll so you can choose your favorite.