Photo courtesy L.E. Baskow / Las Vegas Lights FC
There are lots of ways to score a goal, but there are even more ways to celebrate afterward, from the extravagant choreographed routine to a simple knee-slide toward your adoring fans. Celebrations across the spectrum have been showcased in the USL, and with the league's clubs having combined to already score 205 goals this season there have been plenty of opportunities for players to show their unique style in their celebrations.
This was a celebration that was bound to happen this year. The moment Las Vegas Lights FC revealed it had printed a smiley face on the underside of the home jersey when it was unveiled in preseason, it was only a matter of time before a player flipped that shirt up over his head to celebrate a goal. The moment didn't take long to arrive, either, as Alex Mendoza revealed the smiley face in LIghts FC's inaugural home opener on March 24 at Cashman Field after scoring the club's first regular season goal on home turf. That it came against Reno 1868 FC in the first Silver State Cup meeting only added to the moment of elation.
It is not a celebration without risk, as Mendoza can attest, earning a yellow card for raising the shirt up over his head. But the celebration will certainly stick around, with Vegas players determined to keep doing it. “That was a yellow card for the owner, Brett Lashbrook,” said Lights FC Technical Director Chelis after that match.
The raised jersey celebration is an iconic one in American soccer history, with perhaps the most iconic photograph in American soccer featuring that celebration. In the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final Brandi Chastain scored the penalty to win the World Cup for the United States and ripped off her shirt in celebration of the historic moment.
One of the classic goal celebrations, the slide is simple, but it gets the fans excited, it’s showy, and when it goes perfectly you look phenomenal. It shows the outpouring of emotion that a goal can bring in soccer. If you've got Head Coaches pulling off this move on the sidelines for big goals, you know it's a crowd-pleaser.
Most notably in USL, this celebration belongs to Phoenix Rising FC captain Didier Drogba, who has made this the signature celebration of his 20-year career. Drogba has become the master of the slide, and with more than 300 chances to celebrate in his domestic and international career, the legendary forward has had plenty of practice. He wasted no time getting to his trademark celebration after arriving with Rising FC last season, sliding after scoring a stunner against the LA Galaxy II last season. Unfortunately the legend was a little out of practice and landed on his face, but at least he could laugh about it.
Perhaps the newest addition to the catalog of soccer goal celebrations has been to lift a move from the popular video game Fortnite. The video game involves various dancing celebrations upon victory and those, among other actions in the video game, have been taken up by soccer players around the world.
Indy Eleven forward Soony Saad brought Fortnite to the USL this past Saturday against Nashville SC when he celebrated his second goal with what appeared to be something similar to a shoe shining. But Saad revealed the truth of the celebration after the match.
“It was the Fortnite celebration. It’s a video game a lot of the guys play on the team. Antoine Griezmann for Atletico Madrid does Fortnite celebrations. It’s a trend right now,” said Saad.
What was actually happening was Saad was mimicking bandaging himself, joined by teammates, something players in the game do to heal quicker. Expect more Fortnite celebrations coming as the year goes on, with the game proving phenomenally popular.
It’s a simple celebration, but it shows how pleased a player is with his goal. It’s quick, and even players who never score can manage to pull this one off. No complex choreography is needed to perform this one simply jump while pumping your fist in victory.
Real Monarchs SLC midfielder Masta Kacher used this celebration after scoring a rocket into the top-right corner of the net against Seattle Sounders FC 2 last Wednesday night, a stunning goal didn’t need something flashy to celebrate. That’s the beauty of the leaping fist pump. The goal has done all of your talking. The celebration adds the exclamation point.
Sometimes you’ve scored a goal and you want to celebrate with your teammates but you’re just not really sure what you want to do. Maybe that's because the goal was so good, maybe because it was an important goal, but regardless, that’s when you go for the scream.
Fresno FC forward Juan Pablo Caffa produced just that on April 7 when he scored against Saint Louis FC throwing together an airplane celebration, followed by the leaping fist pump, capping it all by screaming at his teammates. It’s an infectious celebration, it shows a player's joy, and you can’t help but feel excited for the goal-scorer.