Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014's Goal of the Year: From the Left Foot

I was there.  So, I know there's bias in this article. But, from my perspective, there was no better goal in 2014 than the bicycle kick off the left foot of Rafael Castillo of the San Antonio Scorpions versus the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in NASL's 2014 Soccer Bowl.

On a colder than average November night, in front of his home crowd of 8,000 fans, Castillo took a fast cross with his back to the goal from roughly 16-17 yards out and put the boot on it to put the Scorpions in the lead, 1-0. Later, he assisted on their second goal and he helped lift the Scorpions to the title as they won, 2-1.

This game had it all for a championship Final. There was a missed penalty kick from the Strikers and then a comeback from them later to make this a very exciting game.  Fans rushed the field at the end of it.

Overall, Castillo is a journeyman of sorts in professional soccer.  But, in his native Columbia, he is considered an excellent player.  He has played several seasons in their First Division league and has nine appearances for the Columbian National Team.

Castillo is agile and quick with the ball.  He is 5'4'' tall and the most dangerous player on the field. He is a threat to score or assist at all times on the offensive side of the field.

His biggest weapon, though, is his left foot.  Lefties have an edge.  That's just how it is in professional sports.  It's safe to say, Ginobili wouldn't be Ginobili and Nadal wouldn't be Nadal without being dominant with their left hands.

This bicycle kick was special because it was so emotional and artful.  Goals of the year can't just come from a whatever regular season game.  There has to be something else going on-like a championship.

“In my 14 years of professional soccer, I’ve never scored a goal like that,” Castillo told the San Antonio Express-News. “It was even more spectacular because it was in a championship.”

The 2011 'Goal of the Year' will still remain the best goal ever in my opinion.  However, Castillo's is really not that far behind.  It was that artistic of a goal.  Coming off the left foot provided it a different spin and gave the goalkeeper a millisecond moment of pause, then, hitting the post to come in for the goal sealed the deal (the video shows it from all angles).

The other factor influencing this goal was how it came so late in the game, in the 70th minute or so. Fans were already on the edge of their seats and expecting something grand. Castillo gave it to them.

San Antonio had it best sports year ever in 2014.  First, the Spurs, then the Scorpions.  Alamo City is championship city.

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