Baffling goalkeeping errors and impressive reflexive abilities often go hand in hand on the pitch, and that was once again the case during a Wednesday game between Hartford Athletic and Bethlehem Steel in the United Soccer League Championship. But the quick thinking that turned the blunder into a goal was more than your run-of-the-mill poaching.
It was the final minutes of regulation between the two sides as they were knotted up at two goals a piece. Hartford Athletic made a push towards goal to secure a late tally just before injury time would be announced, but a poor cross sent the ball into the hands of Bethlehem Steel keeper Mitchel Budler.
What should have been a routine throw from the keeper turned into a soul-crushing mistake when, just as Budler tossed the ball up field, Hartford forward Danny Barrera lifted up his back heel, as if he was attempting a scorpion kick, and was able to make contact with the ball. The deflection sent the ball flying up and behind the helpless keeper who could only watch as it bounced into the back of the net.
Not only was this the winner for Hartford, which helped them take first place in their group at this point in the season, it also stopped some terrible defensive bleeding. The team went up 2-0 just 15 minutes into the match only to see their lead get evaporated thanks to an own goal in the 22nd minute and an equalizer in the 60th. Hartford needed some magic to turn the tides of that game, and that came in the form of Barrera’s magical back heel.