The quote of Week 20 came from Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, who described his team’s 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night as "ugly," using the adjective not once, not twice, but six times – in a row. (So you’re saying it was ugly, coach?)
But for a round that included a game that was unsightly to a power of six (at least in the view of one coach), there sure were a lot of pretty goals in MLS Week 20.
Even the goal that sent Seattle to defeat was a looker: a cutback and curling shot into the upper right corner by San Jose midfielder Walter Martínez, who nearly scored on a full bicycle kick earlier in the game.
Had it gone in, Martínez’s bike would have joined a handful of other strikes that were strong contenders for Goal of the Week in a round that featured 25 goals in eight games for a robust average of 3.125 per game.
There were golazos of every stripe and in several venues, from New England and New York to Kansas City, and Vancouver. With the AT&T MLS Goal of the Week voting opening on Monday, let’s do a little pre-election polling and look at the most deserving strikes and their impact for their teams.
For the first 38 minutes of their pivotal Western Conference clash on Saturday night, FC Dallas were taking the game to visiting Real Salt Lake. They forced three saves from RSL keeper Josh Saunders (filling in for Nick Rimando, who is at the Gold Cup), and looked to be on their way to extending their home unbeaten streak to 15 games.
WATCH: Nutmeg goal by Morales
That opening? The space between Loyd’s two feet, which offered a narrow window to Dallas 'keeper Raúl Fernández’s wide-open back post. Talk about threading the needle: Morales punched the ball through Loyd’s legs, and with the defender screening Fernández, the ball rolled all the way to that open far post for the game’s first goal.
It came very much against the run of play, and led to two more fine RSL strikes (from Ned Grabavoy and Olmes García) and a huge 3-0 win that extended Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten streak to eight games, kept Dallas winless in seven, and handed FCD their first MLS loss at home since June 28, 2012.
Bulls on Parade
WATCH: Alexander's dribbling display
New York coach Mike Petke told the local MSG network that he wanted his team to attack down the right channel against Montreal on Saturday. No problem coach, said right midfielder Eric Alexander, taking a ball in space from Thierry Henry in the 10th minute of the game between the two Eastern Conference contenders.
Alexander turned and ran right at Impact left back Jeb Brovsky and center back Matteo Ferrari, and, after faking a pass to striker Fabián Espíndola to shake Ferrari, he cut inside to lose Brovsky before curling his shot to the far corner. The solo golazo gave New York an all-important early goal and set the tone for the match.
Henry added another one six minutes later, and the Red Bulls went on to post a 4-0 rout of slumping Montreal, who have conceded 12 goals in their last four games and have fallen out of first place in the East.
WATCH: Camilo goes solo
Move over Mike Magee and Robbie Keane: Vancouver attacker Camilo is now the hottest player in Major League Soccer, having topped the boiling point with two goals in the Whitecaps’ 3-1 win over Magee’s Chicago Fire on Sunday night.
The Brazilian forward’s first goal was a beauty: Collecting a punt from goalkeeper Brad Knighton, he launched a solo run past two defenders, holding off Chicago left back Shaun Francis before turning him inside out and rifling a shot past Chicago 'keeper Paolo Tornaghi.
He added another one five minutes later to lift Vancouver to their fifth win in six games and into third place in the Western Conference. Camilo has 10 goals and three assists in his last nine games.
WATCH: The latest "Adam Bomb"
With the score tied 0-0 in the 49th minute at Gillette Stadium, a headed clearance off a Houston corner kick floated toward Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat, standing about 25 yards from the New England goal.
The Scottish midfielder hit it on the screws with a full volley, sending it rocketing past Revs keeper Bobby Shuttleworth – “a trail of flames behind the ball,” as Revs announcer Brad Feldman put it.
Moffat’s rip was a dream strike, and he followed it up with another thumper in the 79th minute to give his team a 2-1 triumph over the Revolution. Though if the game had taken place in the English Premier League, that circuit’s Dubious Goals Panel (a real thing, not a Monty Python sketch) would have ruled Moffat’s second strike an own goal: His shot hit the post and rebounded back into the goal off Shuttleworth.
Clint Dempsey found the net in a similar fashion during his breakout final season at Fulham, nailing the bar from distance against Stoke City in February 2012. But because the ball caromed off Stoke 'keeper Thomas Sorenseon and into the net, it was ruled an own goal.
Tiki-Taka in KC
WATCH: Tiki-Taka from Sporting KC
The fifth legit Goal of the Week candidate came at Sporting Park on Saturday night, when Kansas City strung together a slick sequence of one-touch passes to tee up striker Claudio Bieler for an easy finish in the 63rd minute against Toronto FC.
Soony Saad, who scored two goals of his own in SKC’s 3-0 win, started the move, surging down the left flank before cutting inside and finding Kei Kamara with a deft pass into the left channel. Kamara one-timed the ball into Benny Feilhaber, who touched it on to Bieler, who tapped home. Tic-tac-toe.
There was something for every kind of golazo connoisseur this week, from Morales’ cheeky brilliance that turned the tide for RSL to Camilo’s determined and skillful solo run to SKC’s gorgeous teamwork.
But it’s hard to deny the audacity of Moffat’s full-volley tracer. The Dynamo midfielder’s strike should take the weekly honor, and you can pencil it in for the yearly one, too.