Since its inception in 1993, MLS has been the home of a succession of stars blessed with exceptional technique. Those stars have produced some wonderful goals through the years, from acrobatic finishes to thunderous strikes. However, there are some goals that stand out from the rest.
If you have a particular preference for towering headers or well-taken penalties, then you may be disappointed by this list. If you like your goals delivered with a dash of technical brilliance, then check out our selection for the top 5 goals in MLS history.
5. Obafemi Martins - Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes, 2014
Nigerian striker Martins arrived in MLS with a reputation as a forward equipped with devastating pace. However, Martins showed his technical brilliance on several equations in the green of Seattle Sounders. This reached its peak with the strike that won him Goal of the Year for 2014.
An intelligent pass beyond the defense set Martins free, but the forward still had plenty to do. He did it in style, cleverly dinking the ball from the side of the six-yard box to find the opposite corner. San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch could do nothing about Martins’ audacity. Ten Jon Busches would have struggled to anticipate such a daring lob.
4. Darlington Nagbe - Sporting Kansas City vs Portland Timbers, 2011
Another Goal of the Year winner, Darlington Nagbe couldn’t have picked a more spectacular way to bag his first senior strike. The ball fell to Nagbe on the edge of the area. One flick with his right foot wasn’t enough, as Nagbe set himself up with a couple of keepie uppies before unleashing a barnstormer of a volley.
The more cynical soccer fans will suggest that SKC’s defense should have been quicker to close him down. The rest of us will just sit back and appreciate Nagbe’s smart skill and incredible finish.
3. Krisztian Nemeth - Portland Timbers vs Sporting Kansas City, 2015
Would you believe it, it’s another Goal of the Year winner. This time it’s from 2015, and from the boot of SKC’s Hungarian forward, Krisztian Nemeth. That said, it’s not so much about the finish as it is the weaving dribble that preceded the goal.
It is somewhat unfair to leave out Clint Mathis’ 2001 Goal of the Year winner for MetroStars, where the American travelled with the ball from his own half and left defenders trailing in his wake. Yet Nemeth’s goal is similar to Mathis, and arguably even better. Nemeth twisted and turned with great agility, with Portland defenders falling over either side of him. Once he had toyed with the defense, Nemeth delivered a calm finish that proved to be the winning goal.
2. Landon Donovan - New England Revolution vs LA Galaxy, 2009
Okay, so all of the goals on this list are winners of the MLS Goal of the Year award. It would be weird if they weren’t. Donovan’s goal is perhaps the most distinctive of all of those strikes, a type of goal rarely seen in soccer.
When the ball dropped on the American legend’s left foot, it seemed like it would take something special to produce a goal. Donovan’s volley almost appeared casual, as if he was comfortably swinging a golf club on a driving range back home. It may have looked effortless, but it took exceptional skill to send the ball curling beyond the keeper’s flailing arm.
1. Camilo Sanvezzo - Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers, 2013
Sanvezzo’s flying scissor kick has a worthy claim to be the best goal in MLS history. Young-Pyo Lee’s cross from the right wasn’t exactly on a plate for Sanvezzo, but the Brazilian forward feasted nonetheless.
Seemingly suspended in the air for an age, Sanvezzo connected sweetly with his right boot to send the ball powerfully into the bottom corner. Donovan Rickets, MLS Goalie of the Year, had no answer to the acrobatics of the Whitecaps forward, but that is fair enough. No goalie in the world could have had the reactions to respond to Sanvezzo’s audacious bit of skill.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has staked several claims to make this list in his two MLS seasons. Perhaps once we’ve had time to properly reflect on Zlatan’s brilliance, it will be the Swede who steals Sanvezzo’s throne.