We continue with our 2021 Fan Awards, where we look back at the 2021 USL Championship season, cast our votes, and give out awards for the best in each category. Up next in the Fan Awards is the 2021 Goal of the Year. With 56 goals scored throughout the regular season, there is no shortage of goals to choose from. Goals from our nominees -Lucho Solignac, Macca King, Aaron Gomez, Nick Ross, and Matt Bahner – all put away goals that took our collective breaths away. You’ve seen our Top 10 Goals List, but now it’s you have your opportunity to choose the 2021 Fan Award Goal of the Year.
Cast your vote below, and remember, you can vote once a day so make sure to come back and vote again until we announce the winner next week!
Not sure which goal to vote for? Read below to get a rundown on each goal and why it deserves your vote for Goal of the Year.
You just know this one was going to be on the list so it’s going first on this list. Lucho Solignac’s jaw-dropping, incredulous, back-heel volley at the end of Andrew Fox’s lob forward into the box. We’ve talked a lot about this goal, we have had this goal on repeat, it made ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 by finishing #4. It was also the USL Championship’s Goal of the Week and a nominee for Goal of the Month. It was a technical beauty that left Rio Grande Valley and fans in awe of how he accomplished it. The best part about the goal is when asked about it, Lucho only had to say that it was a move that made sense because of the angle he was at. He was only able to get his right foot on the ball the way he did. The sheer technicality and stunning beauty of this goal make it a clear contender for the 2021 Fan Award Goal of the Year.
Speaking of goals that were jaw-dropping and unbelievable, this goal from Macca King had us sitting in disbelief. First, the ball in from Nick Ross is wonderfully taken free-kick landed perfectly in range of Macca King, who, as we had established in the nominees for Defender of the Year and for Most Valuable Player, has been clinical at the end of set pieces and dead balls. This spectacular goal just shows Macca’s determination and follow-through to get to the goal. With a defender rightfully marking him, Macca still got a foot up for a half-volley half-bicycle kick that unbelievably redirected the ball for a goal while the defender was falling on top of him. When asked about it, Macca said that he didn’t even know the ball had gone into the back of the net until the crowd started cheering. It was another goal that we couldn’t believe went in, and absolutely deserves to be a nominee for Goal of the Year.
Some goals just showcase the pure athleticism of what the player can accomplish. Aaron Gomez certainly has some pure athleticism in him, and this goal is one of those goals that showcase it. I’m not sure anyone expected Aaron to hit the ball the way he did either, especially not Austin Bold FC goalkeeper Arshia Babazadeh. As the ball is headed off to the side, Aaron Gomez opted not to take the shot from the offset, instead of allowing it to take a bounce back into the air. Now, most would assume, Aaron Gomez would put his head to the ball in an attempt to sneak past to the net, but instead he took to the air to get his left foot on the ball and send it down below Arshia for the goal. To be able to pick the ball out of the air with a kick like that takes talent and it takes a level of athleticism that not many have. Thankfully, Aaron does, and his goal against Austin Bold FC is worthy of being a nominee for Goal of the Year.
Ball control isn’t one of those things that just comes naturally. It takes a lot of practice and tons of talent. Nick Ross has that talent and he shows it off with this 2nd-minute goal against Indy Eleven back in June. More than just the ball talent from Nick, there is so much into this goal that makes it easily one of the best goals of the season. Macca’s cross was impeccable to the far post as it fired across the field. Lucho’s vision to dip underneath the cross as opposed to putting his head to it as he knew Nick was behind him adds another level to this goal. The finish, however, is obviously what seals the deal on this goal of being a nominee for the 2021 Fan Award Goal of the Year. Nick’s juggle – using the first touch to settle the ball in the air, and his second touch to shoot – was perfectly taken. His shot with precision to the underside of the crossbar put the ball into a place where Indy Eleven’s goalkeeper could do nothing about the shot. It’s a goal that writing about it doesn’t do it justice. Just watch it again. It speaks for itself. It is fully deserved to be on this shortlist.
Not every goal for Goal of the Year has to be because it’s a technical beauty. Not every goal has to be breathtaking, leaving you in awe and in wonderment of curiosity as to how did the player accomplish the goal? Sometimes the context of the goal is all you need to be named to the 2021 Fan Award Goal of the Year shortlist. This is why Matt Bahner’s stone-cold stunner against New Mexico United back in August is here. It came from chaos in the box that our very own goalkeeper Logan Ketterer took a shot that bounced off a United defender and into the path of Matt. Matt took his opportunity to toe the ball into the back of the goal and equalized in stoppage time to steal a point from Isotopes Park. It was a goal that was hard-fought in a game where El Paso felt like they deserved a win. It was a goal that silenced an entire stadium. It led to a celebration that is now one of the most iconic celebrations in Locomotive history as Matt took the tarp off and knocked it out of the park. The cherry on top is that it was against New Mexico United, one of our biggest rivals. The context gives Locomotive fans everywhere chills and it deserves to be on the shortlist for Goal of the Year.