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Top 5 MLS Moments of the Last Half-Decade
By: Haider Paroya
Whenever I get intrigued by a new league that I am unfamiliar with such as the Eredivisie in the Netherlands or the NFL here in America, I've always appreciated seeing lists and YouTube videos of the best and most influential moments within recent years, to help better understand references and to understand the current state of the league in general, in order to know what players to look out for and which teams are dominant. So I've created my own personal list of the Top 5 MLS moments of the past 5 years.
5. Zlatan Ibrahimović gets his 500th career goal with a taekwondo kick
Just the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimović, would be enough to make this list, as the MLS has never really rivaled the excitement and intrigue of when David Beckham signed for LA Galaxy. This goal was Zlatan's 500th career goal across all competitions in a 5-3 victory against serial MLS title contenders Toronto FC, and it was an incredible Taekwondo kick, which could be the norm for Zlatan but an incredible goal for the MLS to be apart of. Ibrahimović stated after the match that he was "happy for Toronto as they will forever be remembered as my 500th victim". Zlatan has now moved back to AC Milan and has proven that he is still a consistent starter in the Serie A at the age of 39.
Here are Zlatan's goal statistics across all competitions as of right now.
PSG - 156
AC Milan - 78
Inter Milan - 66
Los Angeles Galaxy - 53
Ajax - 48
Manchester United - 29
Juventus FC - 26
FC Barcelona - 22
4. Carlos Vela breaks goal record with a hattrick to end the season
Josef Martinez' goal record of 31 was broken in 2019 by Carlos Vela who scored a hattrick in the final game of the season, which included an 30 yard banger and a bicycle kick, against the Colorado Rapids to secure a 3-1 to set the new record of 34 goals in a season, along with winning the 2019 MLS golden boot. Carlos Vela also shattered the MLS goal contribution record held by Giovinco in the 2015 MLS season of 38, by bagging in 15 assists as well.
Although the MLS is not nearly on the same level as the Top 5 leagues in Europe, just for reference Messi ended the year with 36 goals in La Liga, Kylian Mbappe ended with 33 goals in Ligue 1 and Jamie Vardy with 23 goals in the English Premier League.
3. Rooney's goal saving tackle and assist to help DCU in a late run to make the play offs
Only 3rd on the list, however this is one of my favorite MLS memories, as the absolute grit and work rate shown by Wayne Rooney in this singular play shows how the elite differentiate themselves from the average. This win was absolutely needed and vital in DC United making the play offs, a point meant nothing to them as you can see even the goal keeper David Ousted was up for the corner leaving behind an empty net. With this win DC United eventually ended the season 5th of 7 Eastern Conference play-off teams. Wayne Rooney however departed DC United after this season, with a loss in the MLS Audi playoffs to Toronto FC.
2. Double Post Penalty in Portland Timbers vs Sporting Kansas City Shootout
This moment was so Iconic in Portland Timber's history that they named a bar inside their stadium after this moment.
Although lacking big stars such as every other entry within this list. This MLS moment is so often referenced on Twitter and Reddit that not including it would have been unjust. To give you context this penalty was during a penalty shootout between the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City in the knockout round of the 2015 MLS playoffs. To send this game into penalties SKC's Kevin Ellis scored an equalizer in the 90th minute to make the game 1-1 and a goal in the 118thminute by Maximiliano Urruti, to square this game to 2-2 and send Portland and KC into penalties.
Saad Abdul-Salaam (In his rookie season) stepped up for SKC's penalty in the 7th round of PK's, as well as sudden death. Had Abdul-Salaam scored this penalty Portland's season would have been over and would've been knocked out of the play offs. Abdul-Salaam hit both posts which was the permutation that lead the Timbers into advancing to the next round of the play offs. The PK shootout went 11th rounds, and ended with both Goalkeepers facing each other. This moment is integral to Timbers history and all of MLS history as Sporting KC fans are reminded of this painful loss every Portland and KC matchup.
1 . Zlatan Ibrahimović Debut goal in EL Traffico.
With his second entry on the list Zlatan shows how much the MLS needed an elite star since the departure of David Beckham. Other stars have came to the MLS such as, David Villa, Steven Gerrard, Bastian Schweinsteiger, but none have made the impact that Zlatan did, especially on his LA Galaxy Debut, which is probably the best debut performance in MLS history. As not only was this Zlatan's highly awaited debut game for LA Galaxy, but had an incredible amounts of story lines to go along with Zlatan's first game. This was not only the debut of the great Zlatan Ibrahimović it was also the debut of a new MLS rivalry and was the first ever meeting of Los Angeles FC (LAFC) and LA Galaxy, parodying the name El Classico with the nickname of the famous Madrid and Barcelona rivalry to El Traffico, poking fun at LA's traffic.
Zlatan Ibrahimović first goal in this new derby came in the 76' minute after being subbed in the 73' minute after a "We want Zlatan" chant in StubHub staduim, to tie the game after being down 3-0 at half time, and scored a volley that is the best debut goal and maybe the best MLS goal I have ever seen. Not only did he tie the game for LA Galaxy at 3-3, but then went on to score the go ahead goal with a header in the 90th minute to win the game for LA Galaxy.
Zlatan is quoted after game saying " I think I heard 'we want Zlatan, we want Zlatan' And I gave them Zlatan"
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