While it may not be quite at the level of a Puskas Award, Alexandru Mitrita scored a fabulous free-kick against Toronto FC tonight that may actually be a lot harder than it looks at first glance.
In just the sixth minute, Omar Gonzalez fouled Valentin Castellanos just outside the top of the box, giving NYCFC an early free-kick opportunity. The ball was just inches outside the box and the angle was almost dead center, meaning the opening for a goal from the set-piece was extremely small. A hit too slow and loopy would be easy for the goalkeeper to reach, while too hard would likely see the ball blasted into the wall, which at that angle and distance is covering almost the entire window of opportunity.
Yet somehow, the 24-year-old Romanian international found the right formula, ripping an effort just over the wall’s left edge and past a diving Quentin Westberg into the back of the net.
Free-kick goals from this distance and angle are almost always stunning efforts given the degree of difficulty the positioning presents. Toronto fans may also look at Chris Mavinga, the man on the left edge of the wall who barely even efforts to stop the shot as it whizzes past him, even separating from the wall to give Mitrita the opening. Westberg may also earn some blame for his positioning, sticking himself too far behind the wall and leaving far too much space on the left side of the net, at which Mitrita takes aim.
The goal is the Romanian’s eighth of the season in 25 matches, having joined this past offseason from Romanian club CS Universitatea Craiova. It’s also his second goal in three games after scoring and assisting one each against Vancouver on September 1. Take a bow.