Lionel Messi's tour for charity, Messi and Friends, had a match scheduled yesterday in Chicago. The friendlies in addition to raising money, highlight what the best soccer players in the world can do against no pressure, defending or opposing effort. The results can be beautiful, but for the most part, it's a boring, tedious endeavor for all involved. That's partially why the roster of 36 stars was down to 13 by the time the exhibition kicked off at Soldier Field yesterday, and how a financial analyst ended scoring one of the nicest bicycle kicks you'll see.
Said analyst is Matt Eliason, who's also the all-time leading goalscorer for Northwestern University. Now, though, he's a guy juggling a job at GE Capital and amateur soccer, still hoping for his MLS break. The only reason why he was on the field is because there were only 13 professionals available, so nine Northwestern players and alums got called up to play.
This is ridiculous, mind you. This is a dream. These guys—many whose careers peaked with NCAA tournament berths—were suddenly asked to take the field with the greatest players on the planet, including Messi himself. For 90 minutes, the analyst was playing up top, linking with players like Thierry Henry, Alex Song, and Florent Malouda. And after just 28 minutes, Henry had the ball on the left side of the box when he saw Eliason slip behind the defense. The Frenchman immediately chipped in a ball to Eliason's chest, who turned away from goal to gather it. He took the first touch off his chest, and with his second, banged a perfect bicycle kick past the goalkeeper to score.
Sure, it's a friendly, and no one tracked his run, and the keeper was fellow Northwestern alum Tommy Tombridge, but this was a great goal. I'd even say that once you factor in the perfect first touch and clean strike, it's probably one of the greatest goals Eliason's ever scored, and the guy's scored a whole lot of goals in his life.
“Once the ball was in the air, I thought I might as well go for it in front of all these fans,” Eliason told reporters. “It’s not every day that you get to play Messi. So I thought I’d give it a try, and fortunately it worked out.”
Best of luck to him going pro, but if he doesn't, this isn't a bad consolation.