Here’s one for your pub trivia night: Who scored the fastest goal in USL League One history?
The answer: Paulo Júnior of Forward Madison FC.
The goal, a header Paulo Júnior put away on a cross from Brian Bement after being left alone in the middle of the penalty area, came just 41 seconds into the Flamingos’ match Saturday night against FC Tucson and paved the way for a 2-1 victory in front of 4,020 fans at Breese Stevens field.
The win put an end to a five-game losing streak, including four league matches, that left Forward Madison in last place in the league. It also comes on the first night the club was rested in well over a month, having played a series of US Open Cup matches and friendlies between league games.
“I think (Paulo Júnior) being a little bit older, in his early 30s, even though he’ll tell you he’s young, he and Don (Smart) benefited the most, I think, from the rest,” head coach Daryl Shore said. “And JC (Banks). Not having to play Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, those three we were able to get them a little bit of extra rest.”
In fact Banks was able to provide the game winner in the 34th minute, finishing a nifty give-and-go with Paulo Júnior. It was the Milwaukee native’s first goal for the club.
“It’s good to get on a score sheet. The win is more important,” he said.
The first 45 minutes was “very solid, probably our best half of the year,” Shore said. Following the opening goal in the first minute, Tucson held the better of the possession but the Flamingos’ back line, shored up by the return of Minnesota United loanee Carter Manley, held strong and did not offer many good opportunities.
The second half belonged even more to Tucson, who nonetheless couldn’t finish a goal until deep into stoppage time, when Kyle Venter was left unmarked and caught goalkeeper Bryan Sylvestre flat-footed.
“It’s been a problem in the past month or so, digging ourselves a hole early in the game,” Banks said. “It’s good to finally get ahead right away. It makes the game a little easier, but we gotta close our game better than the way we did today.”
Shore said the fans, who continue to lead the league in average attendance despite the last month’s worth of struggles, figured in to training this week.
“They’re awesome,” Shore said of the fans. “There’s no other words to describe it, they’re awesome. And I don’t think there was as many as this time as usual, but they were still loud and vibrant and the ones that didn’t show up are probably kicking themselves now, because we got a result. We talked about this week at training, and one of the things in our PowerPoint, the keys to the day, was our fans have really been behind us and have really been giving us their all. And we owed it to them to come out and put a solid performance in. But not just a solid performance, a win. That was very important to me.”
Forward Madison has another week off before hosting first-place North Texas FC, which beat Madison 3-1 three weeks ago. Forward Madison remains in last place despite Saturday’s win, but is still only four points out of a playoff position.