Thiago Andrade celebrates one of the greatest goals in MLS history. (Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
It doesn’t get any better than this, at least for New York City FC and its supporters.
And it doesn’t get any more excruciating than this, at least for D.C. United and its fans.
Thiago Andrade scored one of the greatest and most dramatic goals in Major League Soccer history deep into stoppage time to propel NYCFC to a 2-1 comeback victory at Red Bull Arena Sunday night.
It was deserving of a highlight reel for many years to come and many views on the internet and even on sports highlights throughout the country, if not the world.
“This is a moment you’re going to remember, and all the hard work, all this suffering, struggling through our season was playing into that,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said. “So I feel brilliant for the team and everybody in the club.”
Added goalkeeper and team captain Sean Johnson: “It’s a special moment and definitely a night to remember.”
THIAGOING THE DISTANCE FOR THE WIN 🔥🤯🤩 pic.twitter.com/ik5y4yC1U9
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) June 28, 2021
After Johnson made a save five minutes into stoppage time, he passed the ball to Andrade on the right side.
“I collected the ball and as soon as I saw Thiago, that guy in space, you’ll take your bets on him any day,” Johnson said. “I just tried to get him a ball he could run onto and then just lay it on the ground till the ball was in the back of the net.”
The Brazilian took off on one of the most memorable dashes in league history, bolting down the flank and beating Donovan Pines before depositing the ball past goalkeeper Bill Hamid to snap a 1-1 deadlock.
“It’s unbelievable, the kind of pace he has,” Deila said. “It was 70 yards I think, a sprint. Pines who I think was running with him — he’s not slow, so I think he was impressed with the speed of Thiago as well. I thought he was going to shoot on the first, then when went inside I was like ‘what are you doing? Put it in the goal!’ But then he took it on his left and it rolled so slowly into the goal.”
Then Andrade’s teammates piled onto him in raucous celebration while the NYC coaching staff went wild on the sidelines.
“That one gives me a lot of confidence to keep pushing and developing my career and growing,” Andrade said through an interpreter.
In only 98 minutes of action over two matches as a second-half substitute, Andrade has two goals. His first was in a 3-2 loss to New England June 19.
“He’s a quality player on the ball, runs off the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s just getting settled as well so you’re looking forward to to all the additions.
What made the result even more dramatic was that D.C. enjoyed a 1-0 lead on Nigel Robertha’s ninth-minute goal.
The visitors made that stand up until the 84th minute, when Keaton Parks headed home Maxi Moralez’s corner kick to knot things up at 1-1, setting the table for Andrade’s heroics three minutes into injury time.
Johnson hoped that this result will go a long way in moving NYCFC up the Eastern Conference ladder. City 17 points) is 5-3-2 and sits in fourth place. Eighth-place D.C. (13) fell to 4-6-1.
“These are the wins that we have to put together as a team to keep believing in any moment that we have the quality and have the organization to win games,” he said. “So, this team is not going to give up. I think we’re seeing now, our character really shine through. So, this is this is a massive moment for us.”