Vela First Goal Against Galaxy 3/31/18 IMG

An Alternative Take On The LAFC Goal Of The Year

It was me.

The one in charge of compiling 16 of LAFC’s best goals from its inaugural season. Then taking those 16 a step further by seeding them for the LAFC Goal of the Year vote. It was a meticulous task I took seriously. And somehow still manage to mess up.

For those of you interested in how the sausage is made, here’s what I was looking for. First, the “wow factor.” If I could legitimately say “wow” after watching the goal over and over, it was in. Then, I considered the moment. Score the first goal in Club history? Yeah, that’s in. And finally, there was novelty. If I couldn’t recall another goal like it, perhaps smashing a ball from an acute angle off the goalkeeper, off the crossbar, and then in… you’ve got yourself a contender.

Where did it all go wrong?

To be fair, while I was the one compiling the goals - and then seeding them - I had no idea I was completing the definitive list for voters. In fact, people around the office made suggestions after seeing the list. Ones that I found to be agreeable points and assumed would be applied to the list of goals. They were not. I was left to watch in disbelief as the voting started and round after round goals - great goals - were cast aside.

And it was all my fault. (Although I still contend that no one in the office stopped me, so take that for what it’s worth.)

With the voting finished, it’s my turn once again. To fight for those goals that didn’t get their due, never having a shot at the title of goal of the year. This is my definitive re-do of the LAFC Goal of the Year for 2018.

Vince’s Round Of 16 Re-do:

For those of you that don’t how Goal of the Year voting results turned out, they’re below for posterity’s sake. Of the first round, the voters got a respectable six out of eight correct.

I’ve got no qualms with Christian Ramirez’s lightning strike against RSL in the playoffs upsetting the intricately worked team goal finished off by Diego Rossi at home against Vancouver – I stand by my seeding of Rossi’s goal at No. 8, the clip in the voting doesn’t do it justice the way our Anatomy of a Goal feature did.

The two other upsets though, I have thoughts.

Now I’m not saying I’m always an advocate for higher seeds in tournaments, but for the most part, the first round should have gone to script. And the fact that the No. 2 seed first goal in Club history was ousted by a No. 15 seed is just not right. The theatrics of Carlos Vela in the rain-delayed Houston match aside, Rossi’s strike deserved to advance based on the moment alone. But add to it the nifty little pass to set up the curling shot and hands down that’s the winner of this matchup.

The second victim of the “Carlos Vela Effect,” Laurent Ciman’s free kick at Montreal is even more egregious. Remember, this was the first of Le Général’s three long-distance free kicks in 2018 and definitely his best. It’s easily from more than 35 yards away and was still rising when it hit the corner of the net. Vela’s curler against Vancouver had a high degree of difficulty as well, but it won by nearly twice as many votes. There’s no way it’s twice as good as that free kick.

So I’m flipping those two results in my re-do.

Vince’s Round Of 8 Re-do:

Ok, let’s embrace the chaos in the Round Of 8.

First off, I’m taking Diego Rossi’s volley at Chicago over Carlos Vela’s second goal against the Galaxy. Yup, I’m dropping what was the eventual winner of the LAFC Goal of the Year in the second round.

I love Vela making the Galaxy defense look silly. Put the soundtrack to Benny Hill on that goal and I’d watch it another thousand times. But Rossi’s strike was just so pure. He scoops, blasts, and whips that ball in one motion off the bounce – an absolute 10 in level of difficulty.

To finish out the round, I’m going to take Laurent Ciman’s free kick against Montreal over the first goal in Club history because the moment factor can only get you so far. Vela’s acute angle goal in Toronto advances past the first goal at Banc of California, as the voters had it originally. As well as Vela’s curler at Portland over Christian Ramirez’s playoff goal, another matchup the voters got right.

Vince’s Semifinal Re-do: 

Still with me? Here are the semifinal matchups: No. 1 Vela curler at POR vs. No. 3 Rossi volley at CHI and No. 6 Vela’s acute-angle goal at TOR vs. No. 7 Ciman’s free kick at MTL.

Vela’s goal in Portland hasn’t been mentioned to this point, probably because it was a surefire No. 1 seed and deservedly breezed into the semifinal. The ball looks like it’s stuck in his feet thanks to the turf in Portland… and he still manages to shovel it out, around a defender, and over the goalkeeper. And I’m definitely here for the lowkey jog off to celebrate before the ball is even in the net. It’s onto the final for that goal.

The second matchup is a tough one. Both are a high degree of difficulty and not something you see every day. I’m going to give the edge to Ciman’s free kick though. Because he beat a goalkeeper at full attention from nearly 40 yards and via a set piece. Vela catches the Toronto goalkeeper off guard a bit, as demonstrated by his flailing attempt at the ball. Those are the kind of thin margins you get in a semifinal.

Vince’s Final Re-do:

Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s your winner:

Yeah, it wasn’t one of the 16 choices in the original vote. Like I said, mistakes were made. I wouldn’t need to do this if the bracket would have been perfect.

Once you get past all that, you know this is the winner.

A little over four minutes into the first-ever derby, Carlos Vela did that.

There’s an elegance to this goal. He creates a yard of space, shifts his weight, and unleashes. The movement is all so fluid and with very little wasted energy. 

The flight path of the shot belongs in a museum of modern art. Vela starts it at least two yards wide and high of the far post and crossbar. The goalkeeper is frozen from 20 yards away until he realizes that ball is swerving and dipping into the top corner. It’s Clayton Kershaw’s curveball in soccer form.

I said it after the match, and I still believe it, the skill necessary to find that window of space and then launch the shot from a standstill is more difficult than Zlatan taking advantage of an opportunistic bounce with the goalkeeper off his line - not to mention, we saw Vela recreate nearly the same strike on two more occasions after this.

If we did a re-vote, I'm almost positive this would be the winner - or if someone hadn't incorrectly omitted it from the original vote (my bad). But here I am trying to make up for it.

Maybe I'll get it right next season.

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