Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Armchair Analyst: A dozen moments to remember from the 2015 MLS season

Cameron Porter - goal celebration against Pachuca

A picture is worth a thousand words, so a moving picture is worth, like, a million or something. I don't know -- math is hard.

The point is, it's a lot. And while I'm a fan of great sports photojournalism, I tend to remember each year's pivotal or definitive moments in 5-to-35-second-long sequences rather than in momentary snapshots.

And so, here we are: 12 moments to remember 2015 by. I hope this year was as much fun for y'all as it was for me.

1. Before the Start

The most dramatic moment of the year may actually have come before the regular season even kicked off. That's Montreal's Cameron Porter -- remember him? -- driving home the series-tying goal against Pachuca (Montreal had the away-goals advantage) deep into stoppage time in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

The Impact made it all the way to the final before falling to Club América.

2. The Miss of the Year

This was from Week 1, and there was never any serious competition for a worse flub this season. Andy was right, of course -- Rivero had a pretty good first season and will probably be even better in 2016. But that miss is spectacular.

3. One Skillcheck to Rule Them All

Take a bow, Dairon Asprilla. That was simply outrageous.

4. A Skillcheck With an End Product

Fabián Castillo went supernova in 2015, earning Best XI honors and a call-up to the Colombian national team. This was his best moment.

5. The Pass of the Year

I don't think people realize what it is Juninho did on this play. He swung his leg across the ball, putting reverse-english on it so that it sliced outward directly into the path of his winger.

That he did it first time and in the face of a closing defender ups the degree of difficulty. That both teams essentially stopped playing for a moment because they just assumed it was going into touch speaks to the amount of dark magic the diminutive Brazilian used to make this play possible.

Galaxy fans will miss him. Lots.

6. The Best Player's Best Goal

I'll remember 2015 as Sebastian Giovinco's year, and the above as his best goal. He made them notice across the pond as well, as he worked his way back into the Azzurri. Maybe we'll see some of this next summer in France?

7. Celebration of the Year

Kei Kamara had a spectacular season, eclipsed only by Giovinco's brilliance. And it didn't take long for him to endear himself to Crew SC faithful, paying homage to the club's roots with this goal celebration from early in the year.

8. How to RageQuit

Things didn't go according to plan for Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders, either in their US Open Cup loss to the Portland Timbers or in the second half of the regular season and playoffs.

Deuce's Howard Beale moment is one that'll be burned into the consciousness of MLS fans forever.

9. A Taste of Silver

Take a bow, Carl Robinson. In his second year on the job, he led the Vancouver Whitecaps to their first Canadian Championship, and he did so while coaxing something close to across-the-board improvement out of his roster of kids. The 'Caps were one of the youngest teams in MLS in 2015, and for six months they were also one of the best.

They know what victory is now. Onwards and upwards in 2016.

10. A Taste of Silver, Part II

The New York Red Bulls defied expectations after an offseason purge to win their second Supporters' Shield in three years. Sure, they once again fell a goal short in the playoffs -- the fourth straight time that's happened -- but this team is one of only four to walk out of 2015 with some legitimate hardware.

We'll see if they can break their postseason jinx next year.

11. On the Spot

One of the other champions of 2015 were Sporting Kansas City, who took their second US Open Cup in four years thanks to a grind-it-out performance in Philadelphia, capped by a PK shootout victory. The 2015 Open Cup featured record attendances throughout, and the final was broadcast on the ESPN family of networks for the first time since 1999.

It's Sporting's third trophy in the last four years -- they also won the 2013 MLS Cup. All three of their Cup-clinching victories came in shootouts, so they're unbeatable there, right?

12. Wrong

This is the closest any eventual MLS Cup champion has come to elimination in the playoffs. Somehow Saad Abdul-Salaam hit both posts in the ninth round of the shootout in the Knockout Round. The Timbers went on to make their next two kicks from the spot, and when Adam Kwarasey saved fellow 'keeper Jon Kempin's attempt, the home side officially advanced.

Portland then outplayed Vancouver and Dallas before ambushing Columbus at MAPFRE Stadium to win their first-ever MLS Cup. There are moments to remember from that run, for sure -- Nat Borchers's commanding presence in the heart of the defense, Diego Chara's understated brilliance at defensive midfield, and Diego Valeri's determined opportunism all practically leap to mind.

But … both posts! I'm still stunned.

Happy new year, everybody. Hopefully 2016 will be just as much fun as 2015 was.