If you, like me, are a degenerate MLS fan and have Offseasonal Affective Disorder, you may have noticed MLS putting out a bunch of “Best Goals” videos in the last few weeks. Most recently, this one.
Now, I was watching this video, wearing my carpal tunnel gloves, eating my packaged cookies, crushing an energy drink, and I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “A lot of these goals are pretty mid. I remember many FC Dallas goals in 2022 that were better than some. Did FC Dallas just have a ton of high-quality goals in 2022?”
Me being me, we’re going to answer that systematically (but not scientifically) while engaging in some good old fashion nostalgia to get us through to the start of training camp in a few weeks. I went back and watched every non-penalty (apologies to Velasco’s game-winning Panenka against Minnesota) goal scored by FCD (apologies to the own-goal, last-kick leveler in Portland) in 2022 and judged them on four categories, the four key ingredients to great goals in my subjective opinion. All goals were graded 1(worst)-5(best) in each factor, then had their scores were totaled.
Team Concept: Is the goal an expression of the team’s collective ideas? Does it illustrate their shared ability to make the game happen? This category rewards great interplay; the whole functioning is greater than the sum of its parts. If you want an example of a “5” here, look no further than Argentina’s second against France in the recent World Cup Final.
Individual Brilliance: Does the goal include a flash of inspiration or a glimpse of transcendent ability? Somewhere in the build up, is there a feat of athleticism or technique that causes you to catch your breath or get out of your seat? There are plenty of examples of a “5” here: Maradona’s run against England, Bergkamp’s control against Argentina, Ronaldo’s towering header for Juventus, etc. It feels like the Puskas Award given annually by FIFA to the scorer of the “most aesthetically significant” goal of the year is primarily concerned with this variable.
Finishing Panache: Does the ball kiss delicately off the post? Is it finished in a pristine, inventive, unexpected, or (crucially) humiliating way? Here, we seek goals that get the last nail in the coffin exactly right. Vincent Aboubakar is our muse here.
Club Stakes: The first, most important piece of this factor is whether the goal changes the outcome. Does it take your team from a loss to a draw? Does it nose your team out in front? You can score very late in a game of great importance against a hated rival (all factors we consider), but if it bumps the score from 4-0 to 4-1, the truth is the stakes were low. We have designed this to favor goals that felt big in the moment, even if subsequent events made them less important. Bale’s late leveler in MLS Cup is a great recent example of a “5” (if we were evaluating goals worldwide, we would probably extend our scoring scale to 7 or more to take into account differing levels of import across competitions – the World Cup Final simply slaps harder than a second round MLS playoff game).
The scale is meant to reward goals of different types and to make a perfect score (a 20) borderline impossible (maybe you can think of an example – I couldn’t). Most goals will end up around 10, and scores in the teens are usually at least contenders for the club’s goal of the season. You can see the whole list at the bottom, but we will be counting down the top 10 FC Dallas Goals of 2022 (otherwise known as every goal graded out at 13 or better). Think of these like a light therapy lamp for your shriveled, soccer-loving soul.
THE TEN BEST FC DALLAS GOALS OF 2022
Alan Velasco’s First Impression
“You only get a chance to make a first impression one time, and what an impression for Alan Velasco!”
Perfect call, Mark. Velasco’s golazo nearly claims the coveted double fives for brilliance and panache, but the deflection on the shot knocks off one point. Despite poor marks for team play and stakes (a game-sealing goal, but FCD likely wins without it anyway) keeping it in the second tier, this goal delivered maybe the best crowd crescendo we’ve seen in Toyota Stadium in a while.
FC Dallas’ Rage Against the Dying of the Light
Sort of a mirror image of the previous play, it’s all one- and two-touch play as you get some very nice combinations to generate a chance for FCD to claw its way back into a win-or-go-home game. Four straight passes are played with the first touch between Arriola and Jara. Don’t forget Jara’s assist through Ring’s legs or Velasco’s volleyed finish.
Arriola and Ferreira Catch the MLS Cup Winners Napping
I love this goal so much. In the midst of a vise-tight playoff race against the best team in the league, two FCD attackers create a goal to tie a frustrating game from nothing but their awareness and mental synergy. Two Americans (under enormous personal pressure to perform well enough to make the World Cup roster) out-gaming the ultimate gamer European CB, Chiellini. Plus, Ferreira takes time to taunt Opoku right afterwards. Love it. Huge points for teamwork and brilliance.
Jara Humiliates the Opposition, Part 1
It feels like Maarten Paes’ second half heroics to keep the win overshadowed this early opener from Jara, but make no mistake – it’s a banger. Marco Farfan’s inch-perfect throughball finds Jara in about two yards of space between the GK and the CB, and the aging Argentine deftly flicks it with his toe through the goalie’s wickets. Combine all that with it taking the lead against a playoff-line peer, and you get one of only three goals on the season to score above-average on all four variables.
Jara Humiliates the Opposition, Part 2
Sure, this go-ahead goal happens because Orlando City tragically times their offside trap, but then Jara does what he does best: embarrassing opponents in public forums. It’s the platonic ideal of finishing panache: the dinked chip, Gallese flailing helplessly, and a tender kiss goodnight off the far post just before the exposed offside-line-setter can get there. Bonus points for a nice entry ball from Ferreira.
If Only Tim Melia Didn’t Have T-Rex Arms…
If Velasco’s first against Nashville wasn’t enough of a warning to the league, this goal put it in neon lights: Alan Velasco is going to be a problem for other MLS teams. Quasi-Olimpicos of this type deserve their own room in the Museum of Great Goals; they are gorgeous destination weddings of geometric precision and defensive futility. Was I unjust to dock a point for the SKC defender getting his head on it before it went in? Was that simply SKC’s final shame? It’s open for debate among philosophers.
National Aeronautics and Servania Administration
You’ve seen the NFL thing where Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s job is as simple as “F*** it, Ja’Marr’s down there somewhere.” This goal is the MLS version: Brandon Servania lines up from 45 yards, thinks “F*** it, goal’s down there somewhere”, and blasts a sputnik from the Urals. What a hit. We’ve known since 2019 that Servania’s knuckling shot makes him one of a very small group of players who can consistently get long shots to concern the GK. This felt like the apex of that.
Jesús es Rey
We have officially whittled down to the best of 2022’s best – the above goals were great, but these next three are a cut above.
When it’s all said and done, this goal against Philly (who were in the middle of the best run of form in MLS history) probably ends up being my enduring image of Jesus Ferreira in MLS. Lletget and Arriola both play fine parts, but the headline here is “Jesus Ferreira Absolutely Pantses the Soon-To-Be Crowned MLS DPOY and MLS GKOY”. By Glesnes like 2001 Allen Iverson. Past Blake like a thunderbolt.
He Will Make You Believe Nothing is Impossible
Massive points to Ferreira for seeing that this was possible and executing it. Seriously, has this specific goal ever been scored before? Baiting the GK to come off their line for the cross with your body shape and the bend on the ball before fitting it into a mail slot over his head from 40 yards? Once it dropped in off the bottom crossbar, you knew it would be high on this list. The nutso idea, nutso technique, nutso goal. And he did it to tie the game in LA against an LAFC team that was on track to set the single-season points record at that time. Just a massive goal.
From Nico’s Mind Straight to Our Hearts
The only 2022 FCD goal to score a 5 in Team Concept, Jesus Ferreira’s first of the season, is the platonic ideal of a Nico Estevez team in possession. Start with a CB playing bravely in possession and finding the feet of a ST taking up an unexpected position in the defensive block. From there, it’s surgery without anesthesia: one, two, three luscious first-touch passes and the hustle from Arriola and Ferreira to make and find the space in the box, respectively. The double bounce off the crossbar is merely the double exclamation mark at the end of an all-timer of a sentence. Oh, and this was Ferreira’s first leg of the fastest hat trick in club history, right as the whispers were getting louder about his new DP contract and his place in the national team. A multi-faceted gem, this one.