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2018 Fans’ Choice USL Midseason Moments

By USLSoccer.com Staff, 07/14/18, 3:02PM EDT

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Which players, teams and fans have provided the most memorable moments so far in 2018?

TAMPA, Fla. – The 2018 USL Regular Season – which reached its midway point last Saturday night – has included outstanding individual performances over the first 17 weeks of the regular season, but in addition to that it has also produced some remarkable moments both on and off the field that have caught the imagination around the league and the soccer world. We’ve picked our some of those moments for you to decide which one rose above the rest in each respective category, now you let us know which one gets your vote in the 2018 Fans’ Choice USL Midseason Moments poll.

BEST ESPN SPORTSCENTER TOP 10 MOMENT

Players across the USL have appeared on the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 numerous times this season, but these five sky-rocketed across social media with their world-class finishes.

Soony Saad, Indy Eleven vs. Nashville SC – Saad’s remarkable bending free kick from close to 40 yards out against Nashville SC on April 14 ripped into the right corner of the net, wrong-footing NSC goalkeeper Matt Pickens and wowing fans with its incredible swerve through the air.

Kenney Walker, FC Cincinnati at Ottawa Fury FC – ESPN’s tracking device measured Walker’s incredible first-time volley that looped in from almost the halfway line as having travelled 50 yards before landing on the full in the back of the Fury FC net.

Jemal Johnson, Fresno FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 – Johnson brought the house down at Chukchansi Park with his long-range strike that highlighted the club’s 4-0 victory against S2, and then caught fire online when the highlight was featured across the internet.

Emmanuel Ledesma, FC Cincinnati vs. Richmond Kickers – One of the leading players so far this season, Ledesma provided the exclamation point to all of his highlight reels for the season with an astounding blast from the left touchline that dipped enough to catch the underside of the crossbar and go in.

Jason Johnson, Phoenix Rising FC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC – On the same night as Ledesma’s finish, Johnson one-upped him to take the No. 2 spot on the countdown to Ledesma’s No. 5 with an incredible scissor-kick finish from 15 yards off a cross by Amadou Dia that shook everyone who saw it at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex and online.

*Poll will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, July 20

BEST GOAL-LINE CLEARANCE

Goalkeepers around the USL provide the last line of defense for their clubs, but sometimes they need some help from their back lines to help preserve a result, or even a shutout. Here are our favorite goal-line clearances so far this season.

Ayoze, Indy Eleven at Nashville SC – Indy had taken a two-goal lead in the USL Game of the Week against Nashville, but the hosts were looking to pull back into the game midway through the second half. Ayoze’s instinctive header to clear from Alan Winn’s near-post head helped keep Indy’s lead intact as they became the first side to defeat NSC at First Tennessee Park this season.

Wyatt Omsberg, Tulsa Roughnecks vs. OKC Energy FC – Both teams go flat out in the Black Gold Derby, but Omsberg’s hustle to get back and make a last-ditch clearance off the line after OKC’s Christian Volesky had beaten goalkeeper Fabian Cerda ensured honors remained even between the rivals at ONEOK Field.

Kyle Venter, Penn FC vs. Bethlehem Steel FC – Bethlehem’s Chris Nanco appeared to be set to open the scoring between the two Pennsylvania rivals after beating the offside trap and rounding goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, but he hadn’t counted on the back-tracking Kyle Venter, who was in the right place at the right time to make a crucial stop.

Sam Fink, Saint Louis FC at Swope Park Rangers – Saint Louis had recorded a late equalizer at Children’s Mercy Park but needed a massive intervention from Sam Fink with a goal-line clearance that saw him chest the ball just over the crossbar to end the game with a point in the battle between the two Midwest rivals.

Paco Craig, Louisville City FC vs. FC Cincinnati – Louisville had taken an early lead in its visit to Nippert Stadium and then received a tremendous piece of recognition and execution by Paco Craig to hold onto it as FC Cincinnati’s Corben Bone just squeezed a shot past goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh, only for Craig to be on hand to make a decisive clearance off the line.

*Poll will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, July 20

BEST COMEBACK

Phoenix Rising FC vs. LA Galaxy II, May 4 – Phoenix found itself in a two-goal hole at halftime thanks to a remarkable first-half display by Los Dos’ youngsters, with both Efrain Alvarez and Ulysses Llanez Jr. having found the net for the visitors at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Rising FC produced a big second-half response, though, highlighted by Didier Drogba telling the fans he’d borrowed a water bottle from before a corner that the hosts were about to equalizer before delivering the cross that Jason Johnson headed home on the way to a 4-3 victory.

Penn FC at Louisville City FC, June 16 – Penn had stunned Louisville with a goal by Lucky Mkosana less than 20 seconds into the contest, but the hosts looked well on course for victory as they scored three first-half goals to take a comfortable lead into the break. Penn had other ideas, though, and after Mkosana recorded his second goal of the game midway through the second half, Prince Baffoe capped a sterling comeback for a 3-3 draw with six minutes to go.

Reno 1868 FC at Sacramento Republic FC, May 12 – Things appeared to be going Republic FC’s way at Papa Murphy’s Park as two goals in the first 12 minutes had put the hosts firmly on top of its regional rival, but Reno produced a response that served as arguably the most memorable moment so far in its 16-game undefeated streak. A string of three goals in six minutes by Paul Marie, Brian Brown and Mo Thiaw span the game on its head and saw 1868 FC head back to the Silver State with the victory.

Bethlehem Steel FC vs. New York Red Bulls II, June 20 – Having taken an early lead at Goodman Stadium, Stefano Bonomo’s second goal of the game appeared to have wrapped up all three points for the Red Bulls II with six minutes to go. Even when Matt Mahoney scored with two minutes ago it looked as though time was going to run out on Steel FC, but the hosts salvaged a remarkable point in the fourth minute of stoppage time through James Chambers’ close-range finish.

Sacramento Republic FC at Rio Grande Valley FC, March 31 – Sacramento Republic FC had already won its first two games of the season but was staring down a defeat against Rio Grande Valley FC at H-E-B Park when the Toros took a two-goal lead with 11 minutes to go on Jorginho James’ finish. The visitors answered immediately, however, as Cameron Iwasa scored a minute later to halve the deficit and Sacramento completed its comeback in the second minute of stoppage time when Adam Moffatt’s cross from the left deflected off Toros defender Conor Donovan and into the net.

*Poll will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, July 20

BEST ENDING

Nashville SC vs. North Carolina FC, June 16 – After facing a barrage of pressure, it looked as though North Carolina FC was going to be able to emerge with a point as its remained scoreless at Nashville’s First Tennessee Park well into stoppage time, but with what proved the final action of the game Ropapa Mensah’s close-range finish sent the sellout crowd of 9,047 into celebration with a dramatic winner for a 1-0 victory.

Indy Eleven vs. Charleston Battery, May 30 – After coming back to take the lead with goals by Ayoze in the 86th minute and 93rd minute – the second a remarkable free kick to the top-left corner – it looked as though Indy had grabbed all three points at Lucas Oil Stadium, but the Battery’s response a minute after the Eleven had taken the lead through Tah Anunga put the cap on a wild ending to the 3-3 draw.

Tulsa Roughnecks FC vs. Real Monarchs SLC, March 24 – The Monarchs looked on the verge of falling in the opening game of the 2018 season at ONEOK Field in Tulsa after the Roughnecks took the lead with seven minutes to go, only for two goals in three minutes by Charlie Adams and Chandler Hoffman – the second in the first minute of stoppage time – to grab a 3-2 victory for the visitors.

Reno 1868 FC vs. Swope Park Rangers, March 17 – The snow that smothered the game wasn’t the most memorable part of the opening game of the season between 1868 FC and the Rangers at Greater Nevada Field, as minutes after Reno had equalized in the 89th minute the Rangers bagged a 4-3 victory on Kharlton Belmar’s goal in the second minute of stoppage time.

Louisville City FC vs. Richmond Kickers, April 14 – Richmond had tried to hold on valiantly after taking a first-half lead at Slugger Field, and thanks to goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg were still on the way to earning a point as the game entered stoppage time all square. In the 91st minute, however, the dam finally broke as George Davis IV produced a dramatic winner to send the home fans wild after a 2-1 victory.

*Poll will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, July 20

BEST TIFO

St. Louiligans, A New Hope – For Saint Louis’ home opener after an offseason of changes for the club, the St. Louligans produced a tifo that featured a Star Wars theme as the club entered its new era under Head Coach Anthony Pulis hopeful for what lay ahead.

Steel Army, Pittsburgh Legends – With Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s home opener at Highmark Stadium also serving as the first Keystone Derby Cup clash of the season with Penn FC, the Steel Army produced a multi-piece tifo that commemorated some of the club’s iconic figures dating back to the club’s origins in 2004.

Hristov’s 58, Ralph’s Mob – Honoring one of the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ modern-era legends, Ralph’s Mob hoisted its tribute to Bulgarian forward Georgi Hristov after he had scored his 58th goal for Tampa Bay, setting an all-time club record that had stood since the club’s original era.

Brickyard Battalion, Stranger Things – Covering a vast swathe of the supporters’ section at Lucas Oil Stadium before Indy Eleven’s first home opener in the USL, the image of Eleven from Netflix’s Stranger Things and the slogan “You’d Better Run” quickly went viral on social media thanks to the help of actor Drew Powell, who was also on hand at the game on March 31.

The Pride, Streamer Things – FC Cincinnati’s supporters produced a twist on the Stranger Things theme at their home opener, as the tifo titled Streamer Things was accompanied by a mass launching of blue and orange streamers across the section before their home opener with Louisville City FC on April 7.

*Poll will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, July 20

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