Jonathan Top thought he had it all planned out.
The 21-year-old Arizona United forward scored the goal that rocked all 3,014 fans in attendance at Peoria Sports Complex Saturday night and was ready to do his custom celebration.
Instead, he celebrated with the fans.
Top’s goal in the 85th minute gave Arizona United a 2-1 victory over Sacramento Republic FC and marked the expansion club’s first-ever victory.
“We talked about before the game what we are going to do after we score and I didn’t do what I was going to do,” Top said. “I ended up just running over to the fans.”
Top’s late goal gave Arizona United (1-0-1) a victory only a week after it fell 4-0 at home to Oklahoma City FC Energy in the club’s first-ever match.
Top, who is on loan from Major League Soccer club FC Dallas, said he had no choice but to celebrate his goal with the team’s supporters.
“I know last week was upsetting for us and the goal was late and I was hoping we were going to be able to hold the result so I wanted to celebrate with the fans,” he said.
The late winner didn’t seem like it was coming despite Arizona United being up a man in the second half courtesy of Sacramento Republic FC right back Mickey Daly’s second yellow card just seconds before the first half ended.
Playing with only 10 men, Republic FC (2-2-1) outshot Arizona United 5-2 in the second half . But Top was able to slide the ball home from inside the 6-yard box following a cross from right back Matt Kassel and a deflection by left back Joseph Toby.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Top said. “Luckily, it went in.”
Republic FC dominated play early as well, getting its reward in the 26th minute when midfielder Rodrigo Lopez snuck past the United defense and powered a shot past goalkeeper Evan Newton.
United started to gain its form after Lopez’s goal and equalized 12 minutes later.
Kassel whipped a pass across the Republic FC box to a wide-open Brandon Swartzendruber, who took his space and curled a shot that beat goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek for the club’s first-ever goal.
Swartzendruber, who admitted the first moments of play were sloppy, was ecstatic to make club history and bring the team back into the game.
“It was good for us to get that first goal,” Swartzendruber said. “For me, individually, it was nice and took a little bit of pressure off my shoulders. It’s always good to score. I had all kinds of time and I was just glad to put it away for us.”
United parlayed Swartzendruber’s goal into momentum at the end of the half. Forward Jon Okafor was taken down in the box by Daly, who earned his second yellow card and a red-card ejection, in extra time.
Kassel’s ensuing penalty was saved by Jakubek, though, so Top’s goal provided a lifeline for Kassel and the club.
All that United’s players cared about, though, was leaving with the victory.
“It felt awesome to get that first win,” Top said. “Obviously, we wanted that PK to go in because it would have helped us out a lot. But at the end of the day ,we got the three points and the result we wanted so that’s what matters.”
The victory also marked the first for United head coach Michael Dellorusso, who said Saturday was a “special night” for the club and is already looking forward to taking the pitch Friday against Los Angeles Galaxy II.
“At the end of the day, it’s just another step for us,” Dellorusso said. “It’s a process, we are going through it and these guys are doing everything we asked of them.”