May 23, 2016
Richie Marquez made it look easy on Friday night, but that’s not a simple finish.
Consider the fact that you’ve played 90 minutes in a gritty and difficult game. You’re up the field after a cleared set piece hoping that the ball makes it back into the box. You’re not even a forward and you’ve never scored a professional goal.
To be able to leave your feet, read the weight of that pass, and finish underneath two players who are jumping for the ball and screening you - that’s harder than it looks.
That begs the question – what’s the best goal scored by a Union defender?
There isn’t a huge sample size, but there have been some decent ones. Some are more dramatic than others, like Carlos Valdes’ 2012 game-winner against Montreal, and Danny Califf’s hectic scrum finish in the 2011 season opener against Houston.
Others have been more athletic, from corner kicks, long throws, and broken plays.
Here are a few of the better defender goals in Union history, in no particular order:
This was a comprehensive, 3-0 thrashing of the New England Revolution. Steve Nicol was still in charge of the fading Revs, and recent years had been so breathtakingly mediocre that supporters promptly got up and walked out of the stadium in a first-half protest.
Carlos Ruiz and Carlos Valdes scored the first two goals, then Sheanon Williams got his first career Union tally when he capped off a field length, stoppage time counter with a far-post toe poke.
Harvey has the distinction of scoring the first road goal in franchise history.
The Union lost to Toronto in this game by a 2 to 1 score, but Harvey’s goal featured a nice fullback run and clean finish after a brilliant little ball from Roger Torres.
Fabinho was a newcomer in 2013 and a natural left back.
In a critical October game in Montreal, the Brazilian burned Hassoun Camara and finished a slick through ball from his countryman Kleberson.
Okugo was moved from the midfield to the backline in 2012 and played the entirety of the 2013 season as a center half.
He scored a career-high three goals that year, and this might have been the best of the bunch. Okugo latched onto this Williams long-throw against the Galaxy, flicking his free header past a hapless Carlo Cudicini.
Another Williams special, this one was an acrobatic finish from short range.
The Union did well in 2013 to score from set pieces, but the goals dried up in the second half of the year when Jack McInerney went cold after his Gold Cup call-up.
Williams has the record for Union goals scored by a defender, with seven during his five years in Chester.
This one might not be as interesting as the others, but it’s a difficult, diving, near post finish with Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi draped all over him.
It was a game-winning goal.
This may have been the most important goal scored by a Union defender, as it put the club up 1-0 in the 2014 U.S. Open Cup final.
But that lead didn’t hold, as Seattle equalized in the second half and eventually broke that deadlock in extra time en route to a 3 to 1 win at PPL Park.
• Amobi Okugo vs. FC Dallas - June 29th, 2013
• Fabinho vs. D.C. United – June 30th, 2015 *(Fabinho had been moved into the midfield after a Union red card in this USOC quarterfinal)
• Michael Orozco-Fiscal vs. Toronto FC – July 17th, 2010
• Steven Vitoria vs. Toronto FC – October 3rd, 2015