There's something about a sweetly-struck volley, an audacious Panenka, a piledriver from distance, or a cheeky chip shot over the goalkeeper that makes spectators go crazy with joy and shake their heads in complete disbelief. Goals are the lifeblood of the game, but they are also rare, so when a goal is scored that makes you go "OH MY GOD!" they tend to remain in the memory for a long time. The Canadian Premier League had plenty of those "OMG" moments during its inaugural campaign. Whether it was from Golden Boot winner Tristan Borges or Cavalry FC's Dominique Malonga, CPL fans saw plenty of sensational strikes that bulged the back of the net in 2019. But, which was the best one? Fans already selected Kadell Thomas' dance against Valour FC as their goal of the year, of course, but do we all agree? The editorial team of John Molinaro, Armen Bedakian, Marty Thompson and Charlie O'Connor-Clarke has looked back on the CPL's first year, and offered their picks for the top goal of the season.
Bedakian: Louis Béland-Goyette vs. FC Edmonton (August 19)

"It's gorgeous from Borges!" rang across the country on a number of occasions this season, and for good reason – the young Forge FC star scored some excellent goals en route to winning the Golden Boot. But Borges' rhythmically-pleasing surname lent itself more favourably to the commentators' quick-fire reaction. For Valour FC's Louis Béland-Goyette? Not so much. Still, if there were a word that rhymes favourably with Béland-Goyette after the sturdy midfielder hit this shot, you can be sure it would have echoed from coast to coast. That it came from out of nowhere made it especially stunning. So, while this writer pontificates the power of a potentially poetic pronouncement of his own, Béland-Goyette must, instead, relish his moment in the Winnipeg sun with the sound of Terry Dunfield's guttural roar ringing overhead. You can't fault him for it, either.
Thompson: Manny Aparicio vs. Pacific FC (July 17)

A goal good enough for a spot on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10, Manny Aparicio's long, long, long range goal was jaw-dropping. The York9 FC midfielder picked up the ball just by the centre circle and charged forward. Looking up, then looking up again, the undersized Aparicio took a swing – and it was beautiful. Was there a better-hit ball than Aparico's in CPL Year 1? Was there a better net-bulge? Or celebration? To me, there wasn't. There also wasn't a goal scored from so far out. Manny might say it was 50 yards – Pacific FC fans might undersell at 30 – but even at a conservative 35 yards, no other CPL player converted from as far.
O'Connor-Clarke: Tristan Borges vs. HFX Wanderers (July 17)

The Olimpico (scoring straight off a corner kick) is an art form that's mostly limited to the training pitches of football clubs around the world. When someone pulls it off in a game, people notice. So, of the goals on this list, Borges' corner-kick loft is unique. Several players scored from distance, and several scored with excellent dribbles. Nobody else did this, though. From the look on his face after, he certainly did mean to do it. His teammates did well to get in the goalkeeper's way and stop him from getting to it, but the shot itself was pure skill. Tim Hortons Field is known for its wind, yes. And maybe Jan-Michael Williams was a step too close to the near post? But there's no taking this away from Borges. The Olimpico is up there with the bicycle kick for head-turning highlight reel goals that happen very rarely in soccer, and since we didn't get one of those this year, I'm picking Borges.
Molinaro: Kadell Thomas vs. Valour FC, July 20

Tim Hortons Field witnessed some highlight-reel goals this seasons (see Charlie's selection above), as well as some historic goals (it was in Hamilton that York9 FC's Ryan Telfer scored the first goal in CPL history). But for me, the one goal that stands out from last season was Kadell Thomas's incredible solo effort that sealed a win for Forge FC over Valour FC on a hot and steamy afternoon in The Hammer. With Forge sitting on a one-goal lead in extra time, Thomas peeled away from his defensive marker on the left flank and burst into the Valour penalty area. Once there, he took on two Valour players, dancing his way around Jose Galan and Jordan Murrell (let's call it like it is: Thomas turned them into pylons) with the ball glued to his feet before chipping goalkeeper Tyson Farago at the near post. "Oh, my word! Like on a dance floor on a Saturday night, Kadell Thomas — silky, smooth, slick," play-by-play commentator Gareth Wheeler enthused on the OneSoccer broadcast. "The only thing you can do is sit back, watch it again and again, and smile," Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis said after the game.

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