It was far from a banner year for the U.S. Men’s National Team, but there were some positive developments and solid individual performances.
There were some pretty decent goals, too.
Dealing with the disappointment of missing the World Cup, the USMNT ushered in a new era in 2018. A wave of youngsters and newcomers was introduced to the fold by former interim head coach Dave Sarachan, and a few of those players delivered solid finishes in their appearances to restore some joy and provide hope for the future for American fans everywhere.
Given the amount of fresh faces on the team and their inexperience playing on the international stage, there were not many goals scored this year. In fact, the USMNT found the back of the net only 10 times in its 11 friendlies.
That said, there were still some neat strikes among the bunch and SBI has gone through them to come up with its annual list of best goals. Everything from degree of difficult to quality of the opposition to impact on the game and more is taken into consideration, but aesthetics are also key and since beauty is in the eye of the beholder plenty of debate is sure to ensue.
Without further ado, here are SBI’s top USMNT goals from 2018:
T5. Josh Sargent vs. Peru, October
Josh Sargent became a rising star in the USMNT this calendar year, and his stock continued to improve with a goal in Connecticut. In a match which saw Peru dominate the possession, Sargent took advantage of a set-piece play to break the deadlock. His clinical ability in front of goal gave the USMNT a lead against the World Cup representatives but it would not be a winner as the South Americans struck back late in the second half.
T5. Tim Weah vs. Bolivia, May 28
The level of the opposition — essentially Bolivia’s C team — was undoubtedly the lowest the U.S. faced all year but this goal is a good one nonetheless. Left back Antonee Robinson used some shiftiness with the ball to create space to deliver a cross, and Tim Weah alertly recognized that and made a darting run into the box. The feed wasn’t the greatest, but Weah was able to take the ball on the bounce and finished well with a one-timed effort to cap the Americans’ 3-0 victory.
4. Julian Green vs. France, June 9
In contrast to the last goal, this one came against the eventual World Cup champion. It involved a bit of fortune, including a horrendous trap by Djibril Sidibe in the 18-yard box, but Julian Green’s recognition and execution on the play were superb. Green getting a strong shot off with his weaker right foot on the turn was impressive on its own, but what made this goal even better was that it was historic because it marked the first time the U.S. had ever scored on France. The Americans eventually gave up an equalizer, but Green’s near-post effort past Hugo Lloris allowed them to leave France with a 1-1 draw.
3. Tyler Adams vs. Mexico, Sept. 11
Scoring on Sept. 11 must be a great feeling for any American, but scoring a winner on that day against arch-rival Mexico must feel even better. Tyler Adams provided the goods in the 1-0 victory, opening his international account with a one-timed effort that tucked low into the bottom left corner. The goal came shortly after Mexico had been reduced to 10 men, and it was the product of Antonee Robinson sending in a good low cross into a swath of empty space that Adams met with a trailing run.
2. Kellyn Acosta vs. Colombia, Oct. 11
Down a goal and not having played particularly well in the first half, the U.S. started its comeback effort with a goal shortly after the intermission. Antonee Robinson was (once again) involved, as he hit a dangerous lofted cross from deep on the left flank that Colombian centerback Davinson Sanchez could not clear. Aware that the ball could fall his way, the trailing Kellyn Acosta sprinted forward, stretched out to beat Deiver Machado to the spot, and powered the tying goal past David Ospina.
1. Bobby Wood vs. Colombia, Oct. 11
Unlike the other goals on the list, this one was not born from a ball being sent in from a wide position. Instead, it came from a quick counterattack that saw Julian Green win the ball in the Americans’ half before feeding Tim Weah in an advanced position. Weah showed both fearlessness and inventiveness on the play by dribbling inside and drawing multiple defenders before teeing up a well-weighted pass into the penalty area. A bullish Bobby Wood raced onto it to rifle the ball home and punctuate the sequence, giving the Americans a temporary 2-1 lead in the eventual 4-2 loss and providing a glimpse of what we might see more of from the USMNT in the near future.