With extra time approaching, and Sporting KC’s run in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup hanging in the balance, an unexpected contributor stepped into the spotlight.
The phrase “world-class” was used to describe Yohan Croizet’s match-winning strike, a full volley game-winner in the 89th minute of 3-2 victory over FC Dallas in the Round of 16 on Saturday was a thing of beauty, leaving both the fans and his teammates in a frenzy.
“It was a world-class finish,” said Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes. “I’d kind of put it next to Zidane’s goal [in the 2002 Champions League final], in terms of how it played out. Incredible finish.”
The soft-spoken Frenchman's strike will likely earn a place on highlight reels for years to come. Of course, Croizet had already taken a look for himself by the time he spoke to reporters.
“Yeah, I’ve watched it already.” Croizet said. “It’s a fantastic goal.
“Nobody was around me, and I just took my chance. Sometimes it goes higher, tonight it was on the goal. It’s the best goal of my career, and I’m so happy for the fans here. We’re on for the next round.”
His teammates were beside themselves in the locker room after that strike. Daniel Salloi, who scored two goals to first bring Sporting KC level and then put them ahead, praised the ability to hit that ball.
“Everybody was just shocked,” Salloi said. “The ball went up so high, and it was spinning too. It’s class. It’s just class to hit it like that.”
His strike certainly sent all 15,238 in attendance at Children’s Mercy Park into a frenzy. After the game The Cauldron chanted "Thank you, Yohan!" Croizet said he didn’t recall much of what happened after he scored. Graham Zusi, who has scored a notable goal or two in his career, wasn’t surprised at that.
“At that moment you just kind of black out and celebrate with everyone,” Zusi said. “Witnessing it for me was kind of the same. I couldn’t believe the ball was in the air for that long. And for him to get a perfect strike on it was insane. I’m sure the stadium erupted, but at that moment, you just kind of black out.”
It’s been an up-and-down time for Croizet with Sporting KC thus far. Now having started 10-of-14 appearances in MLS regular-season play, the Designated Player has only scored one goal in the league. But Vermes still felt like he could’ve had goals early.
“There was a point where in the first four or five games, he could’ve had something between three and five goals with some great chances that he had,” Vermes said. “He was just a little bit unlucky.”
Croizet came off early after a good start and an assist in Sporting KC’s 4-1 rout of Minnesota United two weeks ago. Vermes hopes the return on Saturday with the winning golazo gives him confidence, something he says the team still has in their player.
“We’ve done our homework on him,” Vermes said “He’s a guy that has the ability to score goals, and be very dangerous in the attack.”
“And tonight, that goal, I hope it gives him the confidence that he needs. Because we do have the confidence in him.”