Ranking the 8 best goals from the 2018 MLS Cup playoffs
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The Supporters' Shield may be the best barometer of a team's superiority over a Major League Soccer season - that's what the New York Red Bulls will be telling themselves right now, anyway - but the real drama is found in the postseason.

Whether it's away-goal tension, cacophonous home support, or the sheer importance of the occasions, the MLS Cup playoffs always provide more than enough excitement.

The 2018 edition has seen some tremendous goals on the way to Atlanta United topping the Portland Timbers in Saturday's final. Here are the eight best of those strikes:

8. Hector Villalba (Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls)

Our countdown begins with Atlanta essentially assuring their MLS Cup final place. Already leading the Red Bulls 2-0 in the Eastern Conference final first leg, Villalba received the ball 25 yards out. Head for the corner and run down the clock? No chance, as the Paraguay international spanked a swerving left-footed effort into the bottom corner to put the tie beyond New York.

7. Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United vs. New York City FC)

A fortnight earlier, in the semifinal vs. New York City, another Five Stripes star stepped up. Almiron's free-kick may not be the highest-ranking set-piece effort on this list, but it was all technique, as the reportedly exit-bound Paraguayan bent in a tasty effort from 25 yards out. This goal does, however, lose marks due to the fact goalkeeper Sean Johnson may feel he should have kept it out.

6. Franco Escobar (Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls)

Completing a treble of strikes from Atlanta's South American stars is Escobar with a goal that looks simple but is a beauty. Almiron's driving run and perfectly weighted and timed through ball, Julian Gressel's intelligent cutback, Josef Martinez's late decision to leave the pass (presumably after hearing Escobar's shout), and the defender's terrific first-time finish. They really set the Escobar high with this one.

5. Diego Valeri (Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers)

Timbers talisman Valeri's effort bests Almiron's in this list by virtue of its sharper angle, postage-stamp placement, and almost nonchalant technique. Had the final been a draw after 120 minutes, a dead-ball showdown between these two specialists should probably have been the preferred tiebreaker. No one likes penalty shootouts, anyway.

4. Damir Kreilach (Los Angeles FC vs. Real Salt Lake)

This one wins in the unnecessarily-extravagant stakes. Kreilach laughs in the face of suggestions he should volley a ball normally, instead choosing a form of kung-fu kick as the ball dropped to the Real Salt Lake man on the edge of the box. Had it drifted harmlessly high or wide, he'd have looked a bit daft. Instead, it glanced off the inside of the post and into the net to help Real see off LAFC in the Western Conference knockout round, and was heralded as a wonder goal. Fine margins.

3. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union)

NYC pulled off a beauty in the Eastern Conference knockout round. David Villa, with eyes in the back of his head, didn't even think about controlling Maximiliano Moralez's pass, instead executing some kind of aerial backheel witchcraft to find Tajouri-Shradi's run. Not wanting to disappoint his departing captain, Tajouri-Shradi also dismissed notions of a first touch, sending a looping effort over the advanced Andre Blake from 20 yards out.

2. Albert Rusnak (Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City)

There is just so much to love about this goal from Slovakian supremo Rusnak: the chipped first-time ball to start the one-two, the cushioned header down, and the perfect hit. The volley itself is remarkable: the power generated with virtually no backlift and the control and the technique to keep the ball down, flat, and goalbound. It'll take something special to beat this beauty ...

1. Sebastian Blanco (Sporting KC vs. Portland Timbers)

And here it is, a goal that neither set of fans present could quite believe. Blanco deserved his first MLS Cup final berth for this strike alone. When the Argentine picked up the ball deep on the left wing, a run to the byline or early cross into the box seemed inevitable. Instead, he skipped inside the defender, set his sights, and unleashed a swerving, dipping, guided missile into the top corner. There's little else to say, really - just watch.

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Ranking the 8 best goals from the 2018 MLS Cup playoffs
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