The five least likely goals of the 2020 MLS season, according to analytics

Jakob Glesnes - celebrating - wondergoal freekick

It's a saying as old as the sport itself: Goals change games. In other words, the number of times the ball crossed the line may not indicate who created the better chances, but it will still cloud our evaluation of each team's effort.

For most of the sport's history, though, the quality of chances was a theoretical discussion. But recently analytics have allowed us to estimate how likely or unlikely each scorer was to put away a particular chance.

So which goals changed games the most so far season? Here's some data from Spectrum Sports, that shows us the five least likely goals of the early MLS season.

5) Cristian Casseres Jr. — 2.4% probability

Real Salt Lake vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS

The Red Bulls earned a tough away point in their first trip West of the young season, and they had Casseres' worm-burning strike from distance largely to thank.

4) Emerson Hyndman — 2.1% probability


There was a bit of confusion about an offsides flag that was raised, then lowered in the buildup to Hyndman's party spoiler. Even so, the young midfielder had an exceptional amount of work to due to make sure Atlanta emerged from the first-ever MLS game in Nashville with all three points.

3) Sergio Santos — 2.0% probability


The Brazilian forward opened the scoring with a sensational, left-footed curler that nestled inside the left post, just the beginning of the fireworks in what finished a 3-3 draw. Believe it or not, his first goal of the season would eventually be overshadowed by our next submission, contributed by his defensive teammate.

2) Jakob Glesnes — 1.9% probability


Defensively, the Norwegian Glesnes and his back line counterparts struggled against the league's best attack, and were bailed out several times by goalkeeper Andre Blake. On the other end, though, this cracker will remembered as one of the all-time great MLS free kick goals.

1) Yuya Kubo — 1.6% probability

Atlanta United vs. FC CINCINNATI

Like the four other goals on this list, Yuya Kubo's first goal in MLS came away from home. Unlike the other four, his swerving, long-range effort found the net largely because of a misjudgment by goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Atlanta still held on for the victory.