The Golden Boot – MLS 2014

Just so many different ways to approach prognosticating a ‘top 19’ strikers for this year… anyhow – I asked to offer my thoughts so here goes… there may be a surprise or two

To begin, most know my methodology will have some hidden statistics that help shape my thoughts to go along with some instinct I feel or think will drive productivity for one player higher or lower than another.

Some of my context relates to how well the majority of opponents defenses are in their corresponding conference (leveraging somewhat the history on previous years but not too much) since every year really is different given changes in rotations for home and away games.

Additional context comes with sensing whether or not the team will work more towards a direct style of play versus a greater use in leveraging midfield support and a possession based attack. Both approaches can add potential goal scoring threats to certain players.

A great example of this comes when looking at Kenny Cooper the last 4-5 years.  When in Portland midfield support (at that time) was pretty pathetic and there were not many dangerous options from other striking partners.  (low goals = 8) but still the goal leader.

With New York that completely changed and he was their top goal scorer with 18.  In returning to FC Dallas last year he, again, was haunted by poor midfield support – Perez, their likely goal scoring leader this year (like last) was the main option and the attacking scheme ended up supporting him and a direct type of attack as opposed to the possession based attack in New York; last year Cooper scored just 6 times.

Now, with Cooper’s return to a possession based team (Seattle) and the strike partnership of Martins and the danger that Dempsey can add when he gets sharp I think Kenny Cooper can score nearly as many goals as he did in New York; others are sure to disagree but for me, it is what it is.

In the East likely challengers include Cahill or Henry, McInerney (with a revised midfield in Philly), Fagundez, Defoe (when he finally gets fully fit), Higuain, and Bieler.  This doesn’t mean to discount Magee, Di Vaio (aged another year (37?) so they may need a new threat, Eddie Johnson, or Barnes/Bruin for Houston.

I just sense that those guys starting with Magee may be having to concentrate more on getting equalizers; and yes DC United plays a possession based attack but it’s unclear whether their woeful defense has been fixed.

Out west I’ve already offered up Cooper as a likely candidate, so my thoughts also include Saborio, Wondolowski, Valeri/Fernandez (Timbers), Fernandez/Mezquita (Whitecaps), Keane/Zardes for LA, Brown and Torres.

Some guys who I expect will offer danger in the midfield area, like last year, include Will Johnson, Donovan and Dempsey.  I’d like to include Darlington Nagbe but I just sense his superb dribbling skills will work more towards opening things up for his teammates than himself – that’s not a bad thing and I can see other midfielders in that type of role as well.

Especially in Vancouver, who appear to play a similar formation with either Manneh or Miller up top in a Urutti type role while Mattocks or those other two guys slide in as top goal scorers.

As for Torres, Brown, and Perez both FC Dallas and Chivas must get better in the back to prevent lopsided scores and who knows what Colorado will be like – in checking their website they still don’t indicate who their real head coach is?!?

Bottom line at the bottom…   The final guys making my list have multiple entries for a few teams; why? Quite simply it’s because those teams offer greater danger from multiple sources. And as Wondolowski has shown, if someone gets hot it’s likely they will stay hot provided they stay healthy.

Top goal scorers this year should be:
Real Salt Lake = Saborio,
Seattle = Cooper,
San Jose = Wondolowski,
Toronto = Defoe,
Columbus = Higuain
Sporting = Bieler,
Philadelphia = McInerney
New England = Fagundez
LA = Keane
Portland = Fernandez,
New York = Cahill
Chicago = Magee
Dallas = Perez
DC United = Johnson,
Houston = Barnes/Bruin,
Vancouver = Fernandez,
Colorado = Brown
Montreal = Di Viao,
Chivas = Torres

All said and done the order of the strikers for each team does not indicate what order I think that team will finish in the standings; multiple teams have multiple goal scorers – likewise some teams are simply better at scoring goals on set-pieces while others are simply worse in giving up set-piece goals.

The run-of-play goals in MLS run about 75%-85% of goals scored – so if someone emerges this year as a superb free kick specialist (like Sanvezzo was last yaer) it’s anybody’s guess who takes the golden boot.

With that said I will look at this listing again around the 15 game mark and again at the 23 game mark to see who has done better/worse and why (given my team attacking and defending PWP Indices)…

In closing – I’ll leave you with thiese youtube videos of my favorite striker of all time – Alan Shearer… thunderstruck.  

By the way – Alan Shearer had been clocked at striking a penalty shot 96 miles per hour!

If interested in a bit more Shearer – here’s his Top 6 goals scored with a few bits and pieces offered up by Alan to go with those strikes…

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Chris Gluck

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.

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