Chicago Fire's Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, July 23, 2022, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Xherdan Shaqiri’s insane MLS free-kick goalzo has made us feel warm & fuzzy

If you’re anything like us – and, let’s face it, why would you aspire to be anything else – then the sight of an off-the-radar baller shining in the autumn of his career makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Take Xherdan Shaqiri, for example. Throughout the 2010s, Shaqiri was the definition of a Premier League footballer that the ‘streets would never forget’.

Stocky, inventive and possessing the kind of ball control that suggested the Switzerland international had secret magnets in his boots, the forward was the shining star in the ‘Stokealona’ side led by Mark Hughes.

One of the most underrated goals in Premier League history came at Goodison Park during the No Man’s Land between Christmas and New Year in 2015; Shaqiri latched on to a Bojan pass and flighted a dink over Tim Howard without breaking stride. ‘Orgasmic’ barely does it justice.

He left for Liverpool after Stoke’s relegation, frequently coming off the bench to leave defenders crying out for emergency oxygen. It was his brace against Manchester United in December 2018 that consigned Jose Mourinho to the Old Trafford history books.

Now 31, Shaqiri has been strutting his stuff Stateside for the past year.

After using the 2022 campaign to get himself primed for his bi-annual golazo at a major international tournament, the playmaker has just scored the best free-kick since Teun Koopmeiners’ cojones demonstration against Argentina at the World Cup.

Allowing one team-mate to make a decoy run, dragging the minds of the Montreal defenders into a darkened maze, Shaqiri zipped a ball into Maren Haile-Selassie and ambled into firing range.

One Montreal opponent made a token attempt at stopping the forthcoming howitzer, but he’d have probably done better to dig a hole nearby and wait for the inevitable explosion to pass.

Needless to say, Shaqiri’s shot arrowed its way into the top corner and left the supporters inside Soldier Field with their jaws dislocated. Superb stuff.

There was plenty of hype when Shaqiri signed for Chicago Fire in 2022 as their club-record signing, but Fire fell short of reaching the MLS play-offs.

The franchise also struggled during the opening weeks of the current campaign, but Shaqiri appeared determined to change that in an interview with The Guardian in April.

“We have to do it,” the former Stoke and Liverpool forward said. “For sure, there is a bit more pressure on me this season. We are working on this and trying to change the mentality and ensure that this is a winning team.”

The Guardian also revealed that, away from the pitch, Shaqiri is enjoying life in Chicago. Although not a fan of the city’s famed deep dish pizza (“If I have a pizza it has to be a proper Italian pizza”), he loves attending US sporting contests, including this year’s Super Bowl in Arizona.

And it’s incredibly heart-warming to see Shaqiri still scoring the most outrageous goals after leaving Europe. God speed, Xherdan!

You can watch every single MLS match from wherever you are in the world with an MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

By Michael Lee

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