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Johnson wins MLS Goal of the Year

Will Johnson (

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Real Salt Lake's Will Johnson was the winner of the 2008 Sierra Mist Goal of the Year for his flick and volley in a must-win game against FC Dallas on Oct. 18, the league announced today. Johnson's goal received the most votes in online fan voting.

Chris Wingert started the sequence by playing the ball to Johnson's feet at the top-right of the 18-yard box. The Toronto, Canada native flicked the up and hit a first-time strike past Dario Sala for the game-winner in a 3-1 victory against FC Dallas.

Here is the goal.

Ironically, that goal wasn't good enough to be goal of the week in Week 30. That honor belonged to Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero, who on his debut became the first MLS goalkeeper to score a goal when his 80-yard free kick bounced over the head of Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenbaum.

Cepero was one of five finalists, along with Columbus' Robbie Rogers, Geoff Cameron of Houston, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Johnson.

What is my take? I can't see how Cepero couldn't have won. Johnson's strike was great, but how often do you see a goalkeeper score a goal? And on his debut? Sure he didn't do anything spectacular, and he was aided by the Giants Stadium FieldTurf and a stunning gaffe by Gruenebaum, but when you think back to the best goals of 2008, will you remember Cepero's amazing goal or a strike by Johnson, which is nice but something you'll likely to see a few times this year in various leagues around the world.

Then again I thought John Wolyniec should have won the honor in 2003.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Hats off to Will Johnson & Real Salt Lake for a great season & spectacular score. Nice to see a midfielder playing up that far when play allows- of course, it is incredibly difficult to play a strong & accurate double-touch with defenders converging & keeper blocking- perfectly done, a play of beauty! Especially great to see home-grown Americans on the field in the MLS successfully competing against all the testy foreigners..although a Fire fan, sorry to see that RSL didn’t quite push into the Cup final- overall, they were better than the Crew or the Red Bulls & showed alot of heart, momentum & skill- way to go Will!

  2. RSL fans got screwed all year. Multiple terrible calls/no calls (ask Kreis abotu that), no press coverage, Javier Morales not getting named an all star, Morales not being a candidate for MVP, a short history of horrible teams. I’m glad they finally got something. And yes, Will Johnson’s goal was the most skilled of the year.

  3. Johnson is a classy player and the award is well deserved. For me, what makes the goal really special beyond the brilliant strike is that it was the game winning goal in a huge match for both teams in front a packed stadium.

  4. Reminds me of Cambiasso’s goal in the 2006 World Cup against Mexico. He struck an amazing half volley from about the same spot on the field as Johnson did on this goal.

  5. Johnson’s goal was the best by far. What a crack that was, and not even looking up before the hit?! Gallardo’s was a close second for me.

    I think everybody is going a little overboard though on Cepero. Sure, it was lucky, and not much skill involved, but how often can a goalkeeper make the other team look like a joke? I don’t know it would be top three, but I can see it being in the top five. Besides, keepers don’t get the chance to score all the time, so it is fun to see a keeper get the score.

  6. The winner is not important. What is important is the fact that Blanco’s goal, which was like 10 other GOTW winners this season, didn’t win GOTY.

  7. As a Red Bulls fan, Cepero’s goal was a fluke. It deserved Goal of the Week MAYBE, but I’d never vote for it for Goal of the Year. I couldn’t vote for any Red Bull goals, the only one I would’ve voted for was Jozy’s run during the NE home game. One of the best goals I’ve seen scored live. Other than that, Robbie Findley and David Beckham deserved it in my book.

  8. Cepero’s goal certainly belongs on a highlight film…the blooper reel…but not as goal of the year. That would be the equivalent of awarding goal of the year to an own goal. They belong on the same highlight reel.

  9. What made Gallardo’s “van Basten-like” was not only that it was a full volley, without any preceding touch, but it was scored when Gallardo was seven yards outside the near post, but only about two and a half yards off the endline (I just watched it to get these numbers). It was an *incredibly* narrow angle.

    As for Cepero, if he’d meant to do it, it’d deserve GOTY without question. As others have said, a GOTY should always be intentional.

  10. Ives – I have always valued your web-site and the pieces you put up. But following the site through the Red Bull’s run has made me realize just how biased you are to the team. Cepero for goal of the year? There was 50 better goals than that. Gallardo from D.C. had the best strike with his volley!

    Let’s work on a little more of an un-biased site! and oh yeah… Go Crew!

  11. Mario– I thought we were having a conversation about the merits of Will Johnson’s goal. I didn’t call you an idiot. Instead, I noted that your analysis of the goal lacked depth and understanding. That is the key difference. If you want to talk about being “personal,” I believe your comment that “If you are the soccer expert you should know what that means!” was personal under your rubric, but I ignored it. Nothing I said was directly personal.

    Either way, it seems that by resorting to such an allegation, you have admitted that you don’t have any additional support for your analysis. No hard feelings–I was trying to have a meaningful discussion about how an observer looks at a player’s technical and tactical abilities. I think the consensus supports my argument.


  12. All right, Will Johnson! That was my pick from the final five, too. Cepero’s free kick was the novelty of the year, but not the greatest goal.

    As for MLS Cup and “skill beating luck” — ah, who cares as long as the game is good. The MLS playoffs are not the measure of the best team in the league. It’s a separate, season-ending competition and a highly competitive and entertaining one at that. I think the Supporters Shield defines the true MLS champion. (I’m just glad we don’t have to see Houston and New England play for a third year in a row.)

  13. Cepero’s goal, like the Red Bull’s playoff run, was pure luck. Hopefully the MLS Cup outcome will reflect this Goal of the Year award – skill beating luck.

  14. This is crap, slillful yes, but once in a year type goal absolutely not, im a red bull fan and i would rather see dc scums’ marcelo gallardo’s goal win over this. Cepero’s was not just once a year but once a career, what a rip off.


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