We may only be around halfway through the 2023 MLS regular season, but Real Salt Lake’s Pablo Ruiz has staked his claim for the goal of the season already with a stunning strike.
The Argentine spotted opposition goalkeeper Tyler Miller off his goalline just before half-time, and from inside his own half launched an audacious shot from a full 68 yards out to register one of the best scores you’ll see in any league this year.
Check it out for yourself…
Pablo Ruiz from nearly 70 yards out.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 18, 2023
What. A. Goal. pic.twitter.com/4wTHtfMEQo
The Matchday 19 effort came hot on the heels of another long-range wonder goal from a week earlier, when Lucas Zelarayan also wowed the crowd with a wonder strike for Columbus Crew against Chicago Fire. Ruiz’s effort is being lauded as shading it when it comes to being favorite for the end-of-year honors however.
But how does Ruiz’s golazo stack up against previous winners of the prestigious MLS goal of the season over the past five years? Let’s take a look.
Josef Martinez’s devastating bicycle effort
When a cross came towards Martinez from the right wing and with the Atlanta United player having his back to goal, few would have expected what came next.
Just check this out for a clinical and technically spot-on finish, which earned Martinez the 2022 honor for the second time in three years after his 2019 triumph.
OMG, JOSEF MARTINEZ! WHAT. A. GOAL. pic.twitter.com/ljJwK9zAID— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 1, 2022
Rubio Rubin’s 2021 chest, swivel and bicycle kick
Rubin’s goal for Real Salt Lake was a real beauty, and created out of nothing, when the Guatemala international latched onto a flick and showed great control before displaying a real goalscorer’s instinct with a thunderbolt of a finish.
Darlington Nagbe’s chip and rocket
The Columbus Crew midfielder received the ball in a seemingly none-too-threatening position, but his quick-thinking and perfect execution conjured a truly wonderful solo effort out of nothing. And it rightly earned him the 2020 award, nine years after he previously won it in 2011
This wonder strike from Darlington Nagbe is the MLS Goal of the Year pic.twitter.com/7rCTtnsUAp— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 20, 2020
Martinez shows off some amazing skills
Goal machine Martinez rolled out the moves for his 2019 goal of the season winner with this fine individual effort.
A sublime flick, a swift cut inside and then a feint inside again to take another defender out of the equation before bending the ball inside the far post… Wonderful.
Zlatan announces his MLS arrival in style
He’d already taken out his own full-page advert in the LA Times to announce his arrival at the Galaxy (a blank sheet saying “Dear Los Angeles, you’re welcome” and signed by the ego himself), but Ibrahimovic went one better when he stepped out onto the pitch for the first time.
Coming off the bench as a substitute, the Swede ran onto a bouncing ball 40 yards out and nonchalantly lashed it home to ensure nobody was left in any doubt about what to expect from his time at the Galaxy. His first of 22 goals that season for the club, and it earned him the 2018 goal of the season honors.