Photo: Earl Gardner
Few players really stood out in Philadelphia Union’s messy, frustrating 1-1 draw with Montreal Impact on Saturday. Few fans can be blamed for leaving with a sour taste in their mouths after the Union coughed away two points in the final moments of the match.
However, the first half featured at least one brilliant moment from one of the Union’s best players — a driving run and long-range goal from Tranquillo Barnetta that gave the Union the lead right before halftime.
Barnetta only has five goals in 2016, but three of those were incredible, memorable strikes. First, Barnetta won a match in April against Orlando City with an unstoppable free-kick, striking the bottom of the crossbar from 30 yards out as if Barnetta painted a blue-and-gold bullseye on it before stepping up for the kick.
Against D.C. United in July, the veteran international redeemed a dour first half with a similar goal just before the whistle, firing a looping free kick from a ridiculous distance that curled away from Bill Hamid and nestled into the side netting.
On Saturday, he added a third to his list of long-range strikes, again rescuing a difficult half right before hitting the 45 minute mark.
This goal is, in many ways, peak Barnetta. There’s the inventive first touch, taking a bouncing ball off his shoulder and placing it neatly at his feet. There’s a sudden burst of speed and drive toward the defense, with Barnetta gliding like a locomotive past two confused Impact defenders. There’s the imagination required to see that one corner of the goal may be open, the audacity to try the shot from 25 yards, and the skill to launch the shot back across his body.
The old onion bag bulged.
Tranquillo Barnetta has many wonderful qualities, but perhaps the most fun is his ability to unleash a wonder goal out of almost nowhere. In a match where the Union produced few results from a hard day at the office, Barnetta provided the individual moment of brilliance that the team desperately needed. And that’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week for the third time in 2016.
PSP Player of the Week Awards, 2016 Season
Tranquillo Barnetta (4/11, 8/30, 9/13)
Ryan Richter (8/9)
Murphy Agnew (8/2)
Nathan Regis (7/26)
Chris Pontius (3/15, 7/19)
Chevaughn Walsh (7/6)
Roland Alberg (6/21, 6/28)
Brian Carroll (4/26, 6/1)
Richie Marquez (5/24)
Keegan Rosenberry (5/17)
Sebastien Le Toux (4/19)
C.J. Sapong (3/22)
Andre Blake (3/8)