Revisiting the ridiculousness of Pajtim Kasami’s goal (Video)

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How dare he!

That was the first thought that entered my mind watching Pajtim Kasami’s goal Monday and now, 16 hours later, my jaw is still on the ground.

That goal was outlandish. Ridiculous. Audacious. The kind of training ground attempt that would typically result in a shot going high and wide of the target by 50 feet.

But not last night. Last night Kasami executed the maneuver with razor sharp technique and the result – goal of the year (so far) in the Premier League.

What made Kasami’s goal so incredible? Let’s break it down.

First, his vision.

When the play begins Fulham right-back Sascha Riether has the ball in his own half and Kasami is standing in the middle of the center circle. To the casual observer, nothing out of the ordinary seems to be happening – but Kasami sees otherwise.

Mainly, he notices that Darren Bent drifts all the way to the right side of the pitch while Dimitar Berbatov remains in the center and that the Crystal Palace defense are man marking. This means that Adrian Mariappa and Damien Delaney have a 30 yard gap between the two of them.

In a split second, Kasami knows what he wants to do. With the ball at Riether’s foot, Kasami points to the space.

The second astounding element of the goal is Kasami’s run. Like a greyhound he bursts out of the gate and into the space created by the Palace center-backs. In just over four seconds Kasami’s diagonal move puts himself directly under Riether’s 40 yard ball.

Which brings us to part three of Kasami’s feat – the technique.

Still at full throttle, the ball is behind Kasami’s head as Mariappa swoops in to close him down. At this point, merely settling the ball and keeping possession would be impressive. But with his inertia heading towards the corner flag and his hips facing the right touchline, the 21 year old leaps in the air, pops the ball off his chest, squares his shoulders and unleashes a cross body right-footed volley from an impossible angle.

What!?!?!

How the ball ends up in the far corner is still perplexing.

The most impressive aspect of the goal, however, is that not a single part of that play can be considered lucky. Everything Kasami did, he meant to do. Scary stuff.

Following the goal there was a lot of chatter as to whether Kasami’s effort was better than Jack Wilshere’s strike against Norwich City on Saturday.

My take – and Wilshere’s as well, judging by his Tweet – Kasami’s goal was easily the better of the two. Mainly because it was the buildup to Wilshere’s goal – a pinball array of back heels and flicks that would leave Barcelona bowing in approval – that left us in a bliss, not the goal itself.

Wilshere’s was the better team goal, Kasami’s was the better individual goal. Apples and oranges but both fantastic pieces of work that we won’t soon be forgetting.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

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An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.