If you’re looking for the best goals scored in any league, it’s generally a good idea to look at its best players. And this year’s MLS season is no exception
Two of the league’s previous MVPs, Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa, are always good for at least a few stunners per season. As you might expect, the duo feature on this list of Goal’s top goals of the 2017 MLS season.
But they aren’t the only ones to make it. This year’s list features a household name, a center back and a jack-of-all-trades providing arguably the best assist of the season.
So get your popcorn ready and watch our picks for the best MLS goal of the season.
NAGBE & URRUTI BURN DEFENDERS, FINISH STRONG
These two goals both incorporate the same basic premise — burn multiple defenders and then put a shot on goal that the goalkeeper can’t stop. Darlington Nagbe’s work on this one against the Whitecaps rightfully earned him plenty of accolades. Plus the slam off the underside of the crossbar is always a nice exclamation point.
But Maximiliano Urruti’s finish is nothing to scoff at either. He helps win the ball back after having his initial shot blocked, beats a defender, while leaving others frozen as he strikes a perfect shot into the top corner.
OPARA DELIVERS OVERHEAD/BICYCLE HYBRID
Overhead and bicycle-kick goals usually can find their way toward end-of-the-year highlights. You just don’t normally see them done by defenders. But that’s what Ike Opara did against the LA Galaxy in July, getting behind the defense (also a rarity among defenders) and delivering an overhead/bicycle-kick hybrid of a finish.
Added bonus points on this one for the assist from Matt Besler, from near midfield. A center back assisting on his center back partner’s goal is just yet another aspect of this score you don’t see every day.
ROWE DELIVERS ASSIST OF THE YEAR
Most goal of the season nominees usually involve an incredible effort from the scorer. This is going to be an exception to that — Kelyn Rowe’s work on this assist was just that good. Rowe takes an attempted clearance, chests it onto his foot and then strikes an inch-perfect cross that Xavier Kouassi gets on the end of, to get the New England Revolution a late equalizer against New York City FC.
From the attempted clearance until the ball hits the back of the net, it never strikes the ground. Delivering a cross that good on a set piece would be impressive. For Rowe to do it off a clearance, on the volley, was incredible.
It may not be the goal of the year, but it may well be the best assist in MLS this season.
SEBASTIAN GIOVINCO — FREE-KICK JEDI
Giovinco has always been known as a danger on his free kicks since joining Major League Soccer. He took it to another level this season. He broke the MLS free-kick mark for a career at the end of the July, remarkable given he had been in the league for just two and a half years at that point.
That leaves a bevy of free-kick beauties to choose from. The bend on that free kick against Orlando in Week 19 is insane. And yet, he may have saved his best for last.
The Atlanta goal was perfect placement in the top corner. You could have told Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan it was going there — he may have realized anyway — and it wouldn’t have mattered.
One wonders if Italy could have used that skill on free kicks in its World Cup qualification playoff against Sweden.
VILLA DROPS PERFECTION PAST BLAKE
Usually goals scored from midfield happen when a goalkeeper is far off his line with a player given plenty of space to shoot. Andre Blake was a bit off his line but David Villa took the shot from just inside the Philadelphia half after winning a race with defender Jack Elliot for the ball — and Elliot still tightly on him.
There’s a reason Patrick Vieira and Andrea Pirlo called it one of the best goals they’ve ever seen. When you’ve got the backing of a pair of legendary World Cup winners, it’s hard to top that, making Villa’s tally against the Union Goal’s 2017 goal of the year.