BTSVancity Decade Rewind: Top 10 Vancouver Whitecaps goals of the MLS era

Voted on by the BTSVancity team, written by Alexandre Gangue-Ruzic

With the arrival of a new decade, we decided to look back at some memorable moments. Up first, we have the most memorable goals of the decade (MLS era).

2020 is officially here, and with it comes a new decade, as the 2010s came to a close this past week. 

The 2010s, as with the many decades that have come before it, had many ups and downs, especially for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who made their entry to Major League Soccer in 2011. Since then, they’ve completed 9 seasons, racking up over 300 games across 3 official competitions, with several exhibition games thrown in for good measure. 

Due to the high volume of matches, it’s allowed for several memorable moments, some of which we’ll try to reminisce on in this series, as we look back on their time so far in MLS. There have been some highs, such as winning the Canadian Championship at BC Place, and some gut punches, such as the loss to Portland in the MLS playoffs later that same season, with several other moments lying firmly in between. 

So in this one, buckle up, and get ready to take a trip down memory lane, as we prepare for a new decade ahead. Up first, we have the top goals, as we look at some of the finest efforts to ever be produced from players to don the blue and white these past couple of years.  

#10 Christian Techera vs Real Salt Lake

At the 10 spot, we have the diminutive Uruguayan winger, who impressed during his time in Vancouver, despite having a penchant for inconsistent play. When he was on his game, he could be amongst the best in MLS, especially when he was playing Real Salt Lake, who he constantly victimized over the years. 

And there is no better example than this goal. Despite missing the original set-piece, the ball bounced nicely to him, and he decides to go for a spectacular volley attempt. Even though it seemed like he was going to run into the parking lot at BC Place in order to steal the ball of the original set-piece taker, Christian Bolanos, Techera latched onto his strike with perfect technique, slamming the ball into the top corner with venomous intent.

In a 2016 season filled with more ups and downs than the wooden rollercoaster at the PNE, it was a memorable moment for fans to look back on, as Techera gave them a memory that won’t soon be forgotten.

#9 Pedro Morales vs Sporting Kansas City

Up next is this Morales wonder free-kick against Kansas City, as this was a fabulous set-piece from the Chilean, who showed some of his quality on the ball with this strike. In those first 2 seasons, he often threatened from distance, but never really found the back of the net on any free-kicks, at least not consistently. 

So with the Whitecaps up 2-1 away to Kansas, he showed exactly what he can do with the ball at his mercy, as he sent a powerful dart that bent enough to evade Tim Melia, slamming home to give Vancouver a commanding 3-1 away lead in the 75th minute. While they eventually threw away the lead, losing 4-3 in a horrible comeback loss, they still made the playoffs in what was a strong defensive season from Vancouver, who was one of the best defensive teams in the league that year.

And for Morales, it gave him the confidence to make things happen from distance, as he started to score a lot more regularly from distance in the back half of 2015 and all of 2016, seemingly inspired by this strike.

#8 Theo Bair vs Portland Timbers

The newest entry on this list, Bair’s goal was quite remarkable on many fronts, especially considering that it was the youngster’s first goal in MLS. Despite looking good in his many appearances to this point, he still carried a goose egg beside his name, with many posts and top saves keeping him from finding the scoresheet. 

We should have seen something like this coming, as he nearly pulled off a scorpion kick less than 10 minutes into his debut against Dallas in May, but to be fair to Theo, this goal may have been too wild for even his wildest of dream debut goals. 

With the ball bouncing off the head of Andy Rose after a corner, he smartly latched onto the ball first, hitting a backwards volley while facing away from the goal. Even though he was quite far from the goal, he struck the ball with conviction, sending it into the side-netting, tying up this Cascadian clash, giving the away fans plenty to cheer about, and leaving Bair with one of the best debut goals any player can lay claim to.

#7 Nico Mezquida vs FC Dallas

Clocking in at 7 on the list, the energetic Mezquida finds his way into the top 10 with this spectacular effort, one of the most unique goals scored by a Cap. In an already memorable game, as the Whitecaps were up 3-0 away against one of their hardest away foes, the pesky FC Dallas, this goal cemented one of the most commanding Vancouver away performances of recent memory.

The goal itself was quite the show, as Mezquida cleverly caught the defenders out on a Sheanon Williams long throw, controlling the ball with his chest. From there, despite having his back to goal, and being what felt like a postage stamp away from the line, he hit the ball off of a bicycle kick, sticking the ball between Jesse Gonzalez’s legs, putting an exclamation point on a memorable game. 

#6 Eric Hassli vs Toronto FC

Rounding out the bottom half of our list is the only person to make it on here twice (foreshadowing?), Eric Hassli. Despite only playing a season and a half in Vancouver, it felt like he was a nice goal magnet, with his technique on the ball creating several memorable moments, such as this one. 

And this was one of his best. In the 1st leg of the Canadian championship final (yes, final), with Vancouver down 1-0, Hassli found a way to make some magic. On a ball floated in that is best described as uninspired, as it was just sent in from one of the worst areas to cross a ball from, yet it ended up working in the end, as Hassli drifted just wide enough to meet it. 

Boy did he ever meet it, as well, as he struck an outswinging volley that willed itself into the top corner, giving Vancouver hope heading into the 2nd leg, and sending the fans into a frenzy. While they’d eventually lose the final, and Hassli would soon move on to Toronto, it was a spectacular effort from the Frenchman, whose flair for the dramatic made for some memorable moments in Vancouver.

#5 Alphonso Davies vs DC United

Up first for the top 5, Davies’s wonder goal from the summer of 2018, as this goal was memorable for many reasons. While the game itself was a meh, as the Whitecaps were down 3-0 late in the first-ever game at Audi Field in DC, which also happened to be Wayne Rooney’s MLS debut, Davies found a way to put an exclamation point on it with his late efforts. 

On the eve of the 2018 World Cup Final, the young Canadian got the ball in the corner, with 4 defenders on him, seemingly cornered. Despite the low odds to dribble out of there, yet alone score, he went for it, putting together a nice bit of skill to slice through his defenders. 

From there, with the space opened up, he curled one into the low corner from outside the box, before running casually to the half-line with the ball, seemingly disinterested by his attempt. Given that less than 2 weeks he’d be signed by Bayern Munich, this goal soon became known worldwide, with the big Instagram channel 433 picking it up, giving the MLS international attention. 

#4 Davide Chumiento vs New York Red Bulls

The fan-favourite Swiss, Chumiento, is up next on our list. The creative midfielder, who was known for his flashy play, summed up his abilities in this clip, as he scored one of the most audacious goals ever attempted by the Whitecaps. 

Despite being away to the Red Bulls, never an easy matchup, the Whitecaps grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in this sequence. They moved the ball back-to-front with ease, before Camilo made an excellent run down the left flank, where he evaded a couple of defenders before squaring the ball back. It’s there where Chumiento, with magic in his boots, flicked up the ball, did a spin, and hit the ball of the volley, showing shades of Bergkamp without even looking at the goal.

And who knows where he was looking, but boy was it ever at the right spot, as the ball thundered in off of the crossbar, giving the Whitecaps the lead. While they’d eventually concede their lead, drawing 1-1, it was a memorable way to end the 2011 season, with Chumiento’s strike being one of many wonder goals scored that season.

#3 Blas Perez vs Chicago Fire

Yet another golazo from that forgettable 2016 season, this Perez bicycle makes its way into the top 3, as it was spectacular on many fronts. In a game that will also be remembered for the unforgettable debut of Masuto Kudo, who was knocked out by Chicago’s Matt Lampson early in the game, Perez filled in nicely for the Japanese striker, scoring this late winner.

Off a low cross by Erik Hurtado, Kekuta Manneh attempted to strike the ball, sending the ball up in the air. From there, Perez, who was in his mid-30s, showed the nimbleness of a 20-year-old, reaching up to the stars and striking the ball into the low corner, sending BC Place into a loud roar, one of the loudest seen for a midweek clash. 

While it was hoped this come-from-behind victory in May would jumpstart their season, it never did, but it was certainly one of the most memorable one-off games in Vancouver history.

#2 Camilo Sanvezzo vs Portland Timbers

When speaking of the most memorable strikes in Vancouver history, this one often comes up, for many reasons. Trailing 2-1 at home against their rivals, the Portland Timbers, they were desperately pushing for a goal, one that would aid their push towards the playoffs massively. 

And cometh the hour, came the man, as Camilo latched onto a nice YP Lee cutback, having an effort at goal that can only be best described as speculative. Even though he was at the edge of the box, he hit a scissor kick volley, striking the ball first-time with power, catching out the Timbers keeper, while sending the crowd into a massive roar.

While Vancouver fell just short of the playoffs, Camilo’s goal would be forever etched into Whitecaps folklore, as part of his MLS Golden Boot winning 2013 season. 

#1 Eric Hassli vs Seattle Sounders

You just knew it was coming, didn’t you? Boy, what a strike, for many reasons. Derby match, first-ever away Cascadian clash, down 2-1, this goal put MLS on the international map. With over 2 million views on the video, this goal was seen all over the globe, and it was criminal it didn’t get the sniff of the Puskas award that it deserved this year.

The goal itself was spectacular, as Hassli, with his flair for the dramatic, latched onto a Seattle giveaway, before flicking the ball up to himself. From there, despite being so far away that he felt like he was in the crowd, he hit a missile of a volley, curling one into the far corner, quickly becoming a Vancouver cult hero with the shot. 

Considering the hit itself, the context of the game, the context of the season, the recognition it got, it was hands down the goal of the decade, and we’ll be hard-pressed to find anything like it soon, with Bair’s attempt only coming close in terms of popularity, with it going viral on the 433 platform much like Davies’s did.

In a debut season filled with highs and lows, it was the highest of highs, and it set the tone for the rest of what was a busy decade.

Honourable mentions:

Here are the best of the rest (you can find them on YouTube if you fancy a trip down memory lane)

  • Erik Hurtado vs Columbus Crew
  • Andrew Jacobson vs Montreal Impact
  • Kendall Waston vs Colorado Rapids
  • Alphonso Davies vs Minnesota United
  • Jordan Mutch vs LAFC
  • Kenny Miller vs New England Revolution
  • Alain Rochat vs Philadelphia Union
  • Yordy Reyna vs NYCFC
  • Y. P. Lee vs Columbus Crew
  • Ali Adnan vs FC Dallas
  • Yordy Reyna vs Colorado Rapids
  • Daigo Kobayashi vs Columbus Crew

Looking Forward

And here we have it, our top 10 goals. There were some technically sublime finishes, audacious volleys, and everything in between. Over 9 MLS seasons, there have been some strikes to remember, and heading into the new, modern eras of MLS, there are surely more to come, with more success hopefully coming hand-in-hand with it.

After a decade full of ups and downs, at the bare minimum, it should be entertaining, at least if this first decade is to warn us about anything.

Stay tuned for some of our other lists, which will come out in the coming days.

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