The opening round of the 2016 Fans’ Choice USL Goal of the Year is in the books and eight of the most outstanding strikes from the past season remain in contention for the ultimate prize.
Following a busy week of fan voting on USLSoccer.com, the initial field of 16 goals originally populated by seven Fans’ Choice Goal of the Month winners and nine of their closest competitors has been cut in half with quarterfinal action set to get underway Monday.
FC Cincinnati midfielder Eric Stevenson remains at the forefront of a strong Queen City contingent after his pair of entries both narrowly advanced despite a steady stream of support for a Coy Craft stunner for OKC Energy FC (April) and Irvin Herrera’s divine curler for Saint Louis FC in May.
Stevenson’s goals will go head-to-head for a spot in the semifinals where he will ultimately be met by one of his FCC teammates after Goal of the Month winners from Andrew Wiedeman (May) and Omar Cummings (July) edged entries from Aodhan Quinn and Kris Tyrpak respectively.
The FC Cincinnati presence extends into the other half of the bracket as well where an April strike from 2016 USL MVP and Golden Boot winner Sean Okoli still sits atop the draw after ousting a lightning bolt from Seattle Sounders FC 2 youngster Zach Mathers.
Okoli will meet San Antonio FC’s Rafa Castillo in the quarterfinal round after the Colombian’s free kick claimed an intra-state battle with Rio Grande Valley FC’s Emilio Garcia.
Okoli and Castillo will square off for the right to meet the winner of a matchup between Villyan Bijev (Portland Timbers 2) and FC Montreal man Jimmy Sanon. The 2016 USL Assists Champion Bijev earned his way into the quarters by bouncing his new opponent’s FC Montreal teammate, Louis Beland-Goyette, while Sanon’s long-range missile withstood a challenge from Cameron Iwasa and his June goal for Sacramento Republic FC.
Voting in the quarterfinal round is now open and will continue through 9:00 a.m. ET on Monday, January 30.
1. Eric Stevenson (FC Cincinnati, Playoffs) – 55% def. 16. Coy Craft (OKC Energy FC, April) – 45%
8. Eric Stevenson (FC Cincinnati, June) – 53% def. 9. Irvin Herrera (Saint Louis FC, May) – 47%
4. Andrew Wiedeman (FC Cincinnati, May) – 73% def. 13. Aodhan Quinn (Louisville City FC, June) – 27%
5. Omar Cummings (FC Cincinnati, June) – 56% def. 12. Kris Tyrpak (Swope Park Rangers, September) – 44%
11. Villyan Bijev (Portland Timbers 2, September) – 54% def. 6. Louis Beland-Goyette (FC Montreal, August) – 46%
3. Jimmy Sanon (FC Montreal, September) – 52% def. Cameron Iwasa (Sacramento Republic FC, June) – 48%
10. Rafa Castillo (San Antonio FC, July) – 59% def. 7. Emilio Garcia (Rio Grande Valley FC, August) – 41%
2. Sean Okoli (FC Cincinnati, April) – 80% def. 15. Zach Mathers (Seattle Sounders FC 2, July) – 20%