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Top 10 Goals of 2021

By Derick Fox, 11/09/21, 2:30PM MST


Ten of the Greatest Goals Scored in Our Third Year


El Paso Locomotive scored a club-best 56 goals through the 2021 USL Championship season. The Boys in Blue had goals that were featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter and on ESPN+’s Futbol Americas. We’ve seen goals that have silenced stadiums or sent fans into a frenzy of cheers and beer showers. We have also seen goals that were dedicated in the honor of a club legend.

With our third campaign officially in the books, I’m taking a look back at those 56 goals, both stunners and sleepers alike, to compile a list of my top 10 favorite goals from the season.

Of course, these are just my favorite 10 goals from the year, but I would love to hear what you think! After you’re done reading through this list, let me know what your favorite goal is.

10. Matt Bahner vs New Mexico United; 8/14

It may not have been the most glamourous goal but Matt Bahner’s final kick equalizer against New Mexico United back in August is easily up there as one of my favorite goals. It was one of those goals that completely silenced an entire stadium and now Bahner’s tarps-off knock-it-out-of-the-park celebration is an iconic moment in the club’s history. Aside from the effect the goal had at Isotopes Park, it was a great goal in its own right. Like I said, maybe not the most glamourous goal, as it was a scramble of chaos that paid off for El Paso with the right touch to find the back of the net, this goal is one of my favorites because it was one of those goals that highlight the “never say die” attitude that encompasses El Paso Locomotive FC. There were plenty of times throughout the season that El Paso made a comeback to earn a draw or a win. This was another one of those moments and the fight in the box from the entire team – including Logan Ketterer – paid off with a late goal that earned what could be seen as a critical point in the season – or take away critical points from New Mexico United.

Also, the celebration. I love that celebration and the unforgettable moment that Matt Bahner created.

9. Diego Luna vs Austin Bold FC; 10/20

One thing that we learned through 2021 and Diego Luna’s first professional year in soccer was the 18-year-old Midfielder is confident on his feet and it shows. The goal that put the cherry on the top of El Paso’s 3-0 win over Austin Bold FC in late October was absolutely clinical. Diego takes on Bold’s Gustavo Rissi, one-on-one at the top of the box and immediately puts the 23-year-old defender on a flat foot. By looking to go left, Rissi stays ready to make a jump back and put a stop to Diego’s run at a moment’s notice, but when Diego makes one touch going right, it catches Rissi off guard and flat-footed just enough for the El Paso midfielder to cut back towards the left and center the ball for a low shot that tucks away nicely in the bottom corner. It’s clinical, it’s intelligent, and it shows the absolute talent that Diego Luna brings to the pitch. It’s one of my favorite of his nine goals scored in his professional year, and – spoiler alert – it’s not the only the one that has made this list.

8. Lucho Solignac vs Rio Grande Valley FC; 5/22

This is another one of those goals, that while it’s not the prettiest goal on the list – and many might even say it was more luck than anything – it was still an easy choice for this top 10 list. Lucho Solignac’s first goal in a Locomotive jersey and he did it by making history. This 18-second opener is the fastest goal in club history. I’m even going to double down on this goal and argue against those many by saying this goal was anything but lucky. Over the 2021 season, we witnessed firsthand that Lucho is a bright and gifted goal scorer. The Argentine striker has such a read on the game and the ball, that he knows exactly what he needs to do to score a goal (more on this later). In this instance, Lucho knew that if he pressed Toros’ goalkeeper Tyler Deric, it would force him to kick the ball out for a clearance. In that instance, Lucho only needed to get a foot out in the way to stop it and open up an early goal-scoring opportunity. This is exactly what he does, and wouldn’t you know it, that was the goal-scoring opportunity that Lucho needed to earn an early goal and provide an 18-second game-winner near the start of the season.

7. Aaron Gomez vs Real Monarchs; 7/9

This one is beautiful to watch. Four Locomotive players making a run towards goal while leaving the Monarchs defenders in the dust, especially from Aaron Gomez. Just watch that clip again and don’t watch the ball, pay extra attention to the whole run Aaron makes as he comes into the screen at the bottom right. There is nothing but the speed in Aaron’s run to make him the obvious choice for a cross into the box and create a chance on frame. It was another one of those goals that were just a cherry on top of an already dominant performance. The cross and run from Lucho set Aaron up perfectly and the quick wit from Aaron to go for a header as opposed to a volley was a veteran move that you would only expect from the Borderland native. A volley very well could have gotten the job done, but the bounce off the ground and to the head of Aaron who redirected up and over Jeffery Dewsnap put the Monarch’s ‘keeper off-guard. As soon as it was over the young goalkeeper, it was obvious that the ball was going and Aaron Gomez would add another goal to his all-time team-leading count.

6. Jose Aguinaga vs San Antonio FC; 8/4

Goal #100. How could you not put this one on your list? Not only is it good looking goal that showcases that incredible passing, and quick recovery of this year’s Locomotive squad but it’s also a milestone goal. First, let’s break it down. It starts with Eder Borelli never halting his run. As soon as he sees Diego Luna with the ball, he knows he needs to make that overlapping run to get in deep which Diego sees and gets the through ball in. From there Eder cuts the pass in middle to find Lucho Solignac – who saw a space with no one from El Paso was filling so he acted quickly to fill it. Lucho’s first touch was a little sloppy, sending towards the endline but his recovery to save it and keep the ball in play was phenomenal. The overhead back pass finished the passing play as Jose Aguinaga was fast to pick up on the fact the ball never went out of play. Jose’s immediate run got the Spaniard in front of a rushing San Antonio defender as he placed the ball into the back of the net. It was an amazing sequence of events that is befitting of a milestone.

Aside from the incredible play from the Locomotive squad, this goal is also a testament to everything the club has accomplished over its first three years. From goal 1 to goal 100, El Paso Locomotive has seen the Western Conference Final twice. The club was unbeaten at home for over a calendar year. El Paso Locomotive had made itself a giant in the USL Championship within 100 goals and there are many more to come.

5. Diego Luna vs San Antonio FC; 7/28

What did I tell you? There was going to be more Diego Luna on this list. Now for this goal, I will concede, the “pass” leading up to it wasn’t quite a pass. Sebastian Velasquez took a shot towards goal that was blocked back by Connor Maloney, leading to a second shot that took a strange deflection off Maloney and right to the feet of Diego who stood at the center of the box. What Diego does from there, however, is what makes this goal my favorite that he has ever scored. Diego does what he does best, stutter with his feet and make the defender feel uneasy. You’re in the penalty area, with Diego’s footwork, one mistimed tackle could easily lead to the referee pointing to the spot. All San Antonio’s Sam Gleadle could do was try to get in the way of Diego, but the then 17-year-old took full advantage of positioning and Gleadle’s size. Diego got in close, blocking Matt Cardone’s line of sight with Gleadle’s frame before beautifully taking the shot into the top right corner of the net where Cardone could do nothing.

4. Nick Ross vs Indy Eleven; 6/9

I don’t think there is a single thing not to love about this goal. Nick Ross’s 2nd-minute stunner against Indy Eleven in the two club’s first-ever meeting has a strong argument for #1 for my Top 10 list, were it not for a few more spectacular goals Locomotive found throughout the season. First, Nick’s run into wide open space is phenomenal. Second, the picture-perfect cross from Macca is something we’ve come to expect from the defender over his first two years with the club. Lucho’s recognition of Nick behind him while he is fully marked by white jerseys causes him to duck beneath the cross, turning Indy Eleven on their heels. The most beautiful part of the goal though is of course the finish. Nick’s juggling to set himself up with the volley that pings the bottom of the crossbar and in is awe-inspiring. The absolute control from the Scotsman makes him easily one of the most underrated players on this squad. This goal just shows what he can do with the ball and it’s easily one of my favorite goals of this season.

3. Aaron Gomez vs Austin Bold FC; 10/20

Were you looking at that Aaron Gomez goal from earlier on this list against the Monarchs and wondering, what would it have looked like if Aaron had gone for the volley instead of the header? Well, he answered that question just a few months later in October against Austin Bold FC. It’s almost a similar ball, just at a much tighter angle. The ball lands right next to Aaron and takes a bounce back into the air. This time, however, Aaron goes to reach it in the air with his left foot. The athleticism to make that kick is incredible, and the Borderland native made it look easy. I’m fairly certain no one expected Aaron to attempt it, especially not Arshia Babazadeh, Bold FC’s goalkeeper who made a decent attempt to try and snuff out the attempt only to just miss the ball. There is certainly a reason why Aaron Gomez leads the club with goals scored and it's because of beautiful attempts like this that always seem to find the back of the net.

2. Macca King vs Switchbacks FC; 10/20

Very few goals will make your jaw drop and force you to ask the question of “How in the world did they pull that off?” This one by Macca King (along with the next goal that slots in at #1) does just that. First, Nick Ross’ serve is so well placed to the far post. Macca – who has been so good all season at getting to the end of set-pieces – was determined to put a foot on the end of it, even with a defender practically in the exact same place that he was in. The result was Macca putting in one of the most insane goals I have ever seen. Macca came off his feet to meet the ball, getting the touch with the side of his foot to redirect back into the net at the near post. While Macca said post-game that he saw the ball come in towards him, I’m not completely convinced that he knew where the ball was when he struck it. The English defender did admit that he didn’t see the ball go in and just started celebrating after the roar of the crowd told him everything he needed to know about the goal.

1. Lucho Solignac vs Rio Grande Valley FC; 8/21

Of course, this goal was #1 on my Top 10. The sheer technicality behind this goal. The improvisation of the goal to get it into the back of the net. There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t go back to watch this one again. First, you have to admire Sebastian Velasquez and his fight at the end line to keep the ball alive. Once Andrew Fox sends the ball in back center it’s all over. Lucho’s body was facing the wrong way. His run with Roberto Alburquerque right behind him made it physically impossible to turn around to face goal and get a shot off. In the end, making a jump to backheel the ball in was what made sense and Lucho knew it. So Lucho did it. It is, without a doubt, one of the most jaw-dropping goals I have ever seen and it’s not only one of my favorite goals of the year, but also one of my favorite goals of all time. This one made SportsCenter at #4 but surely should have been placed higher. It was also voted the USL Championship’s Fan Goal of the Week in Week 18. This is a goal of pure class and it’s a goal that really only Lucho Solignac could pull off.

There you have it. Those are my Top 10 Favorite Goals from the 2021 USL Championship season. Do you agree with the list? Do you disagree? What were some of your favorite goals of the season? Let me know! And don’t forget to vote in the 2021 Fan Awards for Goal of the Year later on this month!

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