PEORIA, Ill. – Jalil Anibaba might score 100 career goals some day. But he’ll never top his first.
Chicago’s rookie right back opened his professional account in stunning fashion Wednesday night, launching a speculative 40-yard shot through a fan-induced smokey haze and into the back of the net to give the Fire a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids in a US Open Cup play-in match at Bradley University’s Shea Stadium.
“It was definitely a good first professional career goal,” Anibaba told reporters after the match. “I saw that I had space and time and I just measured up the ‘keeper. I just tried to get it on frame and hit it as hard as I can and fortunately it went in. I’ll remember it until the grave, for sure.”
The shocking strike sparked a massive celebration that saw Anibaba sprint across the width of the field to the Fire’s bench, where he jumped into the arms of head coach Carlos de los Cobos before being engulfed by all of his teammates.
“I was very, very excited,” Anibaba said. “And when that happens, you don’t really think. You’re kind of just having fun and that’s what I was doing.”
Unsurprisingly, Anibaba’s teammates were impressed by the goal.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said Fire captain Logan Pause. “We’ve known since Day 1 that he could crush a ball. I think the ‘keeper was cheating a bit thinking it was going to be a cross. He just let it go and what a great goal. It was fantastic.
“We’re just so proud of him,” Pause added. “He’s been working so hard and he’s integrated into this team so well and he’s going to be a big part of this team moving forward.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.