Julian Carranza may not have been satisfied with the result but his face said it all when he was asked post-game about the goal he scored in the 67th minute against LAFC early Sunday morning eastern time.
“It was a really nice goal,” the 21-year-old Argentine striker said with a grin on his face.
Nice might even be understating it. Where Jakob Glesnes’ goal at LAFC in 2019 was all power, Carranza’s was all finesse.
“It’s a really special goal, a goal-scorer’s goal, right?” Union head coach Jim Curtin said post-game.
The goal was the fourth of the season in Carranza’s ninth start (he missed the NYCFC game serving a red card suspension), which means he’s already scored more for the Union in 9 games than he did in 11 starts and 41 total appearances for Inter Miami over his first two seasons in MLS (that’s a goal every 157 minutes versus a goal every 423 minutes for Miami).
Carranza has also tallied three assists after picking up a secondary assist on the Daniel Gazdag opener in the ninth minute. He also drew a game-high five fouls on the night and was relentless in his pursuit of the ball when he needed to step up with Mikael Uhre out of the lineup dealing with quad discomfort.
“Julian certainly has had a great season so far,” Curtin said. “He has that kind of South American savvy and intensity in the box. You saw him get into challenges and be a pest all night and then he has that special instinct around the goal that you can’t teach as a coach.”
The chemistry with Gazdag was also on full display at Banc of California Stadium.
“We understand each other even more and it’s showing on the field,” Carranza said.
Though there’s still plenty of season to play, the fact that Carranza is leading all Union forwards in goals and assists and has been the most consistent of the four forwards on the roster is making the loan move look even more like the deal of the offseason.
The Union has an option to buy at the end of the season and would need to negotiate a new contract to keep him beyond 2023 but through his first nine games he’s looking every bit worth the investment.
“To score a goal like that on this stage was huge for us,” Curtin said. “So happy for him and his performance.”