Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati / Sean Okoli (left) provided a memorable volley to open his home goal-scoring account in 2016
For the first time in the USL’s history, more than 1,000 goals were scored during a regular season, and while most brought fans to their feet in celebration, there were a certain number that created even bigger roars from the stands than others.
From Sean Okoli’s volleyed finish that marked the first goal for FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium – which landed the eventual USL Most Valuable Player on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten – to long-range strikes by the likes of the Swope Park Rangers’ Kris Tyrpak and Saint Louis FC’s Irvin Herrera, barely a week went by without a strike that would leave fans asking, “Did you see that?”
The free-kick specialists were out in force throughout the year, too, with the Charleston Battery’s Justin Portillo coming to the fore in his third season for the club. Louisville City FC’s Aodhan Quinn also continued to show his mastery during dead-ball situations, while the likes of Rio Grande Valley FC’s Emilio Garcia, San Antonio FC’s Rafael Castillo, Orange County Blues FC’s Didier Crettenand and Saint Louis FC’s Chad Bond also made their marks.
With numerous talented marksmen already set to be part of the USL in the 2017 season, the likelihood the league will see even more breathtaking moments in the coming year is almost a certainty.
2016: Top Stories of the Year
No. 9: Highlight-Reel Tallies
No. 10: International Flavor