Jose Goncalves did plenty of remarkable things in 2013.
The MLS Defender of the Year captained the New England Revolution to a first playoff appearance since 2009. He anchored the Revolution’s backline while playing a key role in amassing a club-record 14 shutouts. He even scored a pair of game-winning goals in critical away victories on the road to the postseason.
But for many Revolution fans the enduring image of Goncalves from his debut MLS season will be the 6-foot-2, 180-pound center back shielding off an opponent while letting the ball roll out of bounds for a throw-in or goal kick.
Never before has a player made such an art form of shepherding the ball out of bounds. While other players do it occasionally, Goncalves does it for fun. In fact, Goncalves shielded the ball out of bounds 30 times this past season; an average of almost once per game. His next closest competitors in that category – a group which includes teammate Andrew Farrell – shepherded the ball out only nine times. That’s a big discrepancy.
Goncalves’ pièce de résistance arrived in the 52nd minute of the regular-season home finale against the Columbus Crew. With the ball rolling slowly toward the endline and Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld on the chase, Goncalves shielded off his opponent for a full 30 yards to win a goal kick. The sequence prompted this reaction on Twitter.
Jose Goncalves just shielded a slow-rolling ball over the end line from almost 30 yards out. Because he can. #NERevs— NE Revolution (@NERevolution) October 20, 2013
That play – along with many other examples of Goncalves’ perfect shielding technique – is included in the highlight video embedded in this story. Enjoy.