This week had been a rather “blah” sports week for me. Two teams I can’t stand made the World Series, the Seahawks looked terrible, the Timbers had lost back-to-back games, and I continue to have zero reason to have any interest in Pac-12 football.
Then Dairon Asprilla happened.
Asprilla has been having a solid year for the Timbers, providing offense to a team that has badly needed it. The man has been known to deliver some absolute strikes. But on Wednesday night, he took it to a completely different level. In the 68th minute, with the Timbers ahead 1-0, Santiago Moreno tried to feed the ball up to Asprilla only to have San Jose keeper JT Marcinkowski step up to collect it at the edge of the box. Or at least he should have collected it. Instead, the ball bounced off his chest and right to Asprilla’s feet. Heading away from the net as Marcinowski scrambled back, the sensible decision would be to pass the ball and set up another attack.
Instead, Asprilla gave the ball a quick juggle, and with complete confidence, launched a thunderous bicycle kick that chipped over the stunned San Jose defense and into the back of the net.
It was as perfect a goal as you will ever see—instant goal of the year candidate. My Twitter feed immediately melted down. Within 10 minutes, people I follow who I don’t think have ever watched soccer talked about this goal. It must be seen to be believed:
Honestly, when the goal went in, they should have just stopped the match. Most of those in attendance at Providence Park had surely been carried up to the heavens in euphoric rapture, and I’m pretty sure the San Jose keeper could have been declared legally dead as Asprilla had just stolen his soul.
With the win, the Timbers stopped a three-game slide and stabilized their playoff position with two games left in the regular season. If they can win one of their final two, they can secure a top-four position in the Western Conference and claim a home playoff game.
More importantly, at least for me, the goal provided a reminder of why we watch sports to begin with. Yes, wins are nice, and titles are grand, but on any given day, we have the opportunity to witness something extraordinary. Those sorts of moments easily transcend wins and losses and turn into true “did you see that” moments. Those are moments that bring people together, no matter their interests, no matter their mood, no matter their station in life. They are moments that simply let our jaws drop to the floor and say, “wow.”
Somehow, as if delivering the goal of the year, grabbing the top spot on the Sportscenter Top 10 for the night, and sealing the Timbers victory was not enough, Asprilla managed to make the moment even more incredibly wholesome after the game.
After scoring the goal, Asprilla pulled a shirt over his head, a shirt he wears with a picture of his late father, who passed earlier this year.
“I’m wearing my superhero right here,” he said. “He has been an example for me right from the beginning. It says right here that it was incredible to be your son. I love you, Dad.”
As Asprilla climbed the Timbers’ celebratory log and was showered with sawdust by his teammates, I’m sure his hero was smiling.
We all strive to be heroes for the ones we love, and while we can’t all drive a soccer ball with pinpoint precision backward over our head and set social media aflame from coast to coast, we don’t have to. An incredible goal like that comes only once in a moon, but the love that Asprilla shares for his father is forever, no matter how many goals he scores.
With that one thunderous kick, we got a visible reminder of the joys that are shared between father and son and the joy that we can get from watching sports. Regardless of wins and losses, that’s what is important.