Let us hop into the Major League Soccer archives for a key game in Nashville SC history: A comfortable win for the San Jose Earthquakes over Western Conference rival Houston dynamo back in 2016.
“What,” you may ask, dear reader, “in the world could this possibly have to do with Nashville SC?”
Well, dear reader, not only did two future Boys in Gold hit the pitch in this one – Aníbal Godoy was in the starting lineup for the Quakes, while Jalil Anibaba was a member of the once titular fir the Dynamo – but each played a key role in the contest. Godoy scored what ultimately proved to be the game-winning goal. Anibaba was involved in that very play (not a positive for him!), and also… finished out the game in net for the Dynamo after starting keeper Tyler Deric was sent off*.
*Better still, had Houston not used up its allotment of three substitutions prior to Deric’s red card, the backup keeper who would have come on in his absence? None other than current Nashville SC starter Joe Willis.
Let’s go to the highlights (if the video frame doesn’t load, click here):
And a dive into the individual stats:
- Aníbal Godoy (central midfielder 30 SJE) – One goal on two shots, both on target. 61/63 passing, one key pass. Three tackles, two pass interceptions, three clearances, nine ball recoveries.
- Jalil Anibaba (defender/goalkeeper 2 HOU) – One shot off-target. 26/39 passing, One pass interception, two clearances, six ball recoveries. RECORD SCRATCH. 17 minutes in goal. Two shots faced, two saves: 1.00 save%. Best goalkeeper in MLS history (multi-way tie).
- Joe Willis (goalkeeper 31 HOU) – On bench. Remained on bench.
So, where are we going with this? Exactly nowhere, actually.
Anibaba is the last field player to participate in goal in an MLS game – a fact shared on FS1’s broadcast of the Sporting Kansas City win over Vancouver Whitecaps Sunday evening. When ‘Caps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal (coincidentally, one of the many players tied with Anibaba for best goalkeeper in MLS history, with a 13-save shutout on the evening – however, he clearly loses the tiebreaker on account of losing a shootout) was momentarily banged up, a backup-less Vancouver team certainly had to be fretting about it. Fortunately, Hasal was able to continue and defender Ali Adnan was not required to take his turn between the pipes.
For now, Anibaba continues to occupy the highly-sought throne of “most recent field player to play goalkeeper in an MLS match.”
Pictured: the best goalkeeper in MLS history. Photo by Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country.