July 12th, 2024

Teammates, fellow goalkeepers rally around Toronto FC’s Gavran after freakish goal


By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on July 9, 2024.

Atlanta United forward Jamal Thiaré, right, approaches Toronto FC goalkeeper Luka Gavran, right, during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, June 29, 2024, in Atlanta. The goalkeeping fraternity and Gavran's teammates were quick to offer support when the young Toronto FC 'keeper conceded a freakish goal in a 2-1 loss June 20 at Atlanta United. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Danny Karnik

TORONTO – The goalkeeping fraternity and Luka Gavran’s teammates were quick to offer support when the young Toronto FC ‘keeper conceded a freakish goal in a 2-1 loss June 20 at Atlanta United.

Gavran, deputizing for No. 1 Sean Johnson who was away on international duty with the United States at Copa America, was about to put the ball back into play in the dying minutes with the score tied 1-1 when things suddenly went south.

The 24-year-old Gavran hadn’t noticed that Senegalese forward Jamal Thiaré was lurking behind him, having stuck around to swig a drink from the water bottle by the goal. When Gavran dropped the ball in front of him in preparation for booting it down the field, Thiaré nipped in and stole the ball, slotting it into the unprotected goal for the 97th-minute winner.

“Probably the most embarrassing moment in my career,” Gavran said Tuesday ahead of the opening leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal Wednesday between TFC and Forge FC. “But a moment I’ll probably learn from the most.

“You go from playing such a good game – individually and collectively as a team, we played so well away from home – and you’re literally one kick away from a result. And that happens. It’s tough. For the next day and the next couple of days, I was definitely down on myself. But the team was very supportive.”

Gavran called it “one of those goals that happen in a video game.”

Atlanta goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Quentin Westberg, a former TFC player, both talked to him after the game.

“Everyone reached out to me and was making sure my head was straight and everything,” Gavran said. “Everyone was supportive. It was definitely a good learning experience.”

It was rare misstep for Gavran, who has shown superior shot-stopping ability when filling in for Johnson.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2024.

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