PORTLAND, Ore. – Major League Soccer today named Portland Timbers midfielder/forward Darlington Nagbe the winner of the 2011 AT&T Goal of the Year for his juggle and volley into the top corner of the goal on July 2 against Sporting Kansas City at JELD-WEN Field.
With the Timbers trailing Sporting Kansas City late in the first half, Nagbe scored his first professional goal in spectacular fashion. Controlling a clearance by juggling the ball twice in the air, the rookie then unleashed a volley from outside the penalty area that knifed into the upper left corner of the goal. Click here to watch Nagbe’s goal.
The goal was named one of the Top Plays on ESPN’s SportsCenter that evening and won ESPN SportsCenter’s ‘Best of the Best’ poll every day for a full week, earning more votes each day than another top play from around the sports world. Within days, the highlight surpassed one million views on YouTube and has been reviewed more than 1.5 million times. In addition to being named MLSsoccer.com’s Goal of the Week in Week 16, Nagbe’s incredible goal was also named the Timbers’ 2011 Play of the Year.
The AT&T Goal of the Year was determined by an online fan vote; 64 initial nominees for the award were eventually narrowed to four finalists. The final poll results for the four finalists were:
Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers – 42 percent
Eric Hassli, Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 31 percent
Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders FC – 23 percent
Davide Chumiento, Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 4 percent
Nagbe, 21, joins Damani Ralph (Chicago Fire, 2003) as the only rookies to win MLS Goal of the Year. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Nagbe finished his first professional season with two goals and ranked among team leaders with three assists in 28 matches (21 starts) for Portland. He also finished fourth in the voting for 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year.