MLS: Best of September

By Ridge Mahoney

A few familiar names and a couple of unexpected contributors conjured up-some of the league’s best moments in September.

BEST GOAL. As if scoring from a yard off the goal line wasn’t difficult enough, Sebastian Giovinco increased the degree of difficulty by latching onto a partial clearance of his corner kick on the right side and striking it with the outside of his right foot. It just cleared the leap of teammate Jonathan Osorio before kissing the inside of the post on its way into the net. We ask again: How on earth did TFC get this guy?

BEST SOLO GOAL. The Fire has fired head coach Frank Yallop, who misfired on a few of his acquisitions but caught a pretty good one in Ghanaian attacker David Accam. He leads Chicago with nine goals and scored one of the season’s best individual efforts by blowing past Red Bulls defender Connor Lade, then cutting past his desperate recovery run and faking keeper Luis Robles off his feet to tap into an empty net. Cheeky.

BEST TEAM GOAL. Of many memorable combinations that led to excellent goals, the nod goes to the Revs. They stunned Orlando City when a long chip out of the back by Chris Tierney was knocked wide left by Charlie Davies to Lee Nguyen, who timed his angled chip perfectly into the path of Diego Fagundez’s run. The young Uruguayan cushioned the ball with his first touch and smacked it inside the far post with his second. Sweet.

BEST VOLLEY. Balls blasted from distance make great goals yet using patience and placement to stick a dropping ball into the net requires its own skill set, and that is how Mike Grella punished the Revs when a wild attempted clearance by Jose Goncalves rebounded off the woodwork back into play. Grella reacted first and rather than smashing the ball wildly he very calmly side-footed it from just inside the penalty area into the top corner.

BEST SET PLAY. Any move that leads to Dax McCarty scoring with a diving header merits extra credit, so the award goes to the delicate free kick that Sacha Kljestan chipped to the right side for Matt Miazga to nod square for McCarty to put away.

BEST FREE KICK. For once, Giovinco doesn’t win this honor. Didier Drogba’s swirling, swerving effort from about 25 yards out that hit the top corner of D.C. United’s net is the winner.

BEST CORNER KICK. Because it set up a momentous occasion, the ball Kaka served up for Cyle Larin to head home his record-breaking 12th rookie goal gets the vote. Kaka’ inswinger dropped perfectly so Larin could direct his header across the goalmouth and inside the far post.

BEST CROSS. Guys 37 years old aren’t supposed to blow past younger opponents at will, but that’s just how Frank Lampard set up a header for Ned Grabavoy in a NYCFC defeat of San Jose. From a throw-in, Lampard lured Cordell Cato into a vulnerable spot, then burst past him to hook the ball from near the goal line into the middle, where Grabavoy’s crashing run drilled it into the net.

BEST CLEARANCE. These are vital plays that seldom are sexy enough to warrant attention, but FC Dallas defender Atiba Harris set up a goal when his first-time clearance of an errant Columbus pass sailed right up top to Michael Barrios, who turned on the jets to outpace Michael Parkhurst and knock the ball behind keeper Steve Clark.

BEST SAVE. In his 15 MLS seasons how many of the league’s top forwards have been stoned by Nick Rimando? The RSL veteran scrambled across his line to thwart Quakes’ marksman Chris Wondolowski of what looked to be a certain goal at Avaya Stadium.

BEST DOUBLE SAVE. This one made highlight shows of all types. Wrongfooted when a Diego Valeri free kick deflected in the opposite direction from where he was going, Robles dove back to his left to parry the ball as it was about to cross the Red Bulls' line, then scrambled a few more yards to snuff Nat Borchers’ seemingly certain followup to deny Portland. Reflexes, agility, balance, bravery, quickness, determination; this play checked off just about every box on the goalkeeper’s Must Have list.

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