Over the next couple weeks, the staff of 32 Flags will be counting down some of the top achievements and moments of this calendar year. 2016 has seen many things in the soccer world from the good to the bad and the ordinary to the extraordinary. Today, we are counting down the top moments of the year.
It’s tricky to make a list like this, because the world is a large place and invariably, something important gets left out.
But, this story appeared on the schedule, so let’s give it the old college try, shall we?
10. Shkelzen Gashi’s free kick — The Albanian scored on a thunderous free kick against Vancouver in September to win MLS Goal of the Year honors:
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 7, 2016
9. Dele Alli’s volley against Crystal Palace — The touch to control it, another to spin around a defender and then a volley into the bottom right corner. No wonder England fans are hailing him as their next savior.
8. Shaqiri’s bike — With the Swiss trailing late against Poland in a Euro 2016 match, Xherdan Shaqiri uncorked a bit of magic via a bicycle kick to tie the score:
Shaqiri vs Poland pic.twitter.com/uxNSdWMSPt
— Alexis17Editor™ (@Alexis17Editor) July 13, 2016
7. Champions League final — A Madrid derby was the payoff for the 2015-2016 Champions League, and the two La Liga sides put on a show at the San Siro in the final.
A first-half goal from Sergio Ramos (which shouldn’t have stood because he was offside) was cancelled out by Yannick Carrasco’s strike 11 minutes from time.
It went to penalties, and after a Juanfran miss, Cristiano Ronaldo’s spot kick handed the title to Real Madrid.
RONALDO Winning penalty vs Atletico Madrid (5-3) Champions League Final 2016 ENGLISH COMMENTARY| HD pic.twitter.com/QUl8o8EK8Q
— CEO Nadey (@Nadheem_Ibrahim) May 28, 2016
6. Robbie Keane’s Ireland bow — On August 31, Robbie Keane played in his 146th and final match for the Republic of Ireland. He scored in the 4-0 win over Oman, and ended his international career with 68 goals.
Robbie Keane scores on his last game for Ireland. Absolute legend. https://t.co/DZqXhlbjLU
— ap berentsen (@vakkdchem) September 4, 2016
5. Portugal wins Euro 2016 — Facing a heavily favored French side, Portugal saw its talisman, the aforementioned Ronaldo, exit in the early going with an injury.
But the Portuguese fought bravely, got the match into extra time and won it on this goal from Eder in the 109th minute:
4. Stefan Frei’s save — I’ve watched this save 20 times, and I still don’t know how Jozy Altidore didn’t score on this header. Frei’s save denied Toronto a win in extra time, and Seattle went on to lift the MLS Cup after a penalty shootout.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) December 13, 2016
3. The rise of Pulisic — There is no bigger star on the U.S. Men’s National team than teenager Christian Pulisic at the moment. It’s hard to believe that his first goal came only a few short months ago, in a friendly against Bolivia.
It was the beginning (we hope) of a long and beautiful career for him:
Christian Pulisic Scores First International Goal Against Bolivia https://t.co/TAchfhrQL7
— Futbol Trends (@TrendsFutbol) May 29, 2016
2. Iceland beats England — In any other year, Iceland’s 2-1 win over England in the Round of 16 at the Euros would have been the runaway moment of the year.
It was a truly deserved win for a side that, along with Wales, stole the hearts of neutrals at the tournament and around the world.
1. Leicester City wins EPL title — In a 38-match season, luck has nothing to do with deciding a champion. Leicester City, a 5,000-to-1 underdog to win the title in the preseason, locked up the 2015-2016 Premier League title with a week to spare last season.
It’s not an overstatement to suggest that it is one of the most unlikely championships in the history of sports.
And it sure was a lot of fun to watch.