Usain Bolt scored his first goal as a professional soccer player Friday evening in Australia. And then he added his second. And if you want this just to be about one of the world’s greatest athletes continuing to be awesome across the spectrum of international sport, maybe stop reading after the first highlight.
Here’s the first strike, where he outraces a defender to catch up to a pass in the box, and then drills a shot past a terrifically out-of-position goalkeeper:
And here’s his follow-up, where he, uh, watched a defender crash into the keeper and give up the easiest goal Bolt will ever have in his career.
“But Christian,” you may ask if you’ve stuck with me this long, “why is Bolt out there dominating a group of what appear to be well-dressed Australian drunks? Is all of the continent’s soccer like this?” Well, no.
Bolt’s team, the A-League Central Coast Mariners don’t start their season until October 21. This was a friendly equivalent of a preseason game. Only instead of playing another team from their league like you’d see in most American sports, the Mariners played this one against Macarthur South West United, a club whose legitimacy can be summed up by the logo Central Coast uses for them in its official game summary:
MSWU isn’t really a soccer club. It’s actually a group of B-tier players from Australia’s National Premier Leagues, which features 93 different teams. Friday’s squad, coached by former national team member Nick Carle (who is now a youth soccer coach), was specifically made up of players from Sydney’s South West. They didn’t have a roster until last Sunday.
So, yeah, Friday’s game was basically a showcase to build hype for Bolt’s first season as a pro soccer player. And it worked! Bolt’s strikes were the third and fourth goals of a 4-0 rout.
Wait, Usain Bolt is a soccer player now?
He is. A professional one, too! The Mariners were the worst team in the A-League in 2017-18, winning just four of their 27 matches. They needed a spark — or at least a reason for people to watch their terrible, terrible brand of soccer.
Enter Bolt, who left his racing spikes behind in August 2017 and began his journey toward a professional soccer career not long after. By February he was working out with German club Borussia Dortmund, though the Bundesliga staple failed to sign him. That led him to a tryout with Central Coast, who was happy to have him (along with the $1 million in funding from Football Federation Australia, who essentially subsidized Bolt’s signing).
‘‘The deal between the Mariners and Usain Bolt in principle has been agreed, subject to a couple of benchmarks,’’ agent Tony Rallis told Big Sports Breakfast, which is a tremendous name for a morning show. ‘‘Mainly, a trial, and of course marquee funds support from the FFA.”
That trial led to a spot on the roster. Bolt made his debut in the 71st minute of another friendly back in the tail end of August, but failed to find the back of the net. On Friday, he crossed that item off his bucket list, recording a pair of goals as a professional soccer player.
Which is awesome. Even if it came against a bunch of lower-tier nobodies who couldn’t clear the ball out of their own box without crashing into each other like a gaggle of drunks.