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Barnetta’s unforgettable free kick sealed his Philadelphia Union legacy

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Tranquillo Barnetta scored 58 goals in his career, but a free kick goal against Orlando City their fans still whine about will be his lasting legacy in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Union’s Tranquillo Barnetta hits a free kick against Orlando City SC at Talen Energy Stadium. Trey Madara / Brotherly Game

Tranquillo Barnetta only played one full season for the Philadelphia Union, but his dramatic game-winning free kick goal against Orlando City three years ago is still seared into the memory of Philadelphia Union fans.

The Swiss international who ended up earning 75 career international caps — all before his arrival in Chester — converted a free kick in the 90th minute that ended up leading the Union to a 2-1 win in the game. The kick from just outside the 18 hit the crossbar and went in after a wall of Union players had lined up in an offside position and moved as Barnetta kicked the ball.

Here’s the video of the goal from the River End as captured by Union superfan Jeff Mitchell. Notice how full and loud the stadium was just three years ago. Also notice who the goalkeeper was.

After the fact, the Professional Referee Organization issued a statement saying the goal was “incorrectly allowed,” but by then all the whining from Orlando City fans could do nothing to change the outcome.

Barnetta had managed to not only win the game for the Union but essentially troll the fans of the then-second year club, who at the time thought much higher of themselves and their team than they do now.

The goal was Barnetta’s second for the Union after arriving in late July during the 2015 season and making 11 appearances and nine starts. He would end his Union career with six goals in 45 appearances before returning home to Switzerland and his hometown club St. Gallen after his contract was mutually terminated following the 2016 season. The Union struggled without Barnetta’s services in 2017 and ultimately finished in eighth place despite earning the same number of points as the season before (42).

Barnetta didn’t have the longevity of other former Union stars like Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll and Vincent Nogueira but he’s a club legend all the same, in part because of his famed free kick but also because he was a damn good soccer player whose class was evident from the time he made his Union debut against the New York Red Bulls on August 1, 2015 to his last game against the New York Red Bulls on October 23, 2016.

The soon-to-be 34-year-old announced that he will retire at the end of the season on Tuesday. If he appears in all six remaining games, he’ll come just five shy of reaching 500 career appearances dating back to his debut for St. Gallen as a 17-year-old in 2002.

Barnetta has eight former teammates from his Union days that are still with the club, including Alejandro Bedoya, Andre Blake, Fabinho, Ilsinho, Derrick Jones, Auston Trusty, Ray Gaddis and Warren Creavalle.