STATS: Who is the most prolific striker in MLS?

With the 2015 MLS season well underway, it’s a great time to look at the top goalscorers in the league and just how prolific they really are.

Using statistics from Squawka, we take a look at the strikers who have scored five or more goals so far this term, and how their conversion rates compare:

Striker Goals Scored Total Shots Conversion Rate (%)
Clint Dempsey 7 18 39
Kei Kamara 7 43 16
Obafemi Martins 6 16 38
Octavio Rivero 6 43 14
Chris Wondolowski 6 34 18
Giles Barnes 6 38 16
Bradley Wright-Phillips 5 31 16
Jozy Altidore 5 16 31
Blas Perez 5 13 38

According to the statistics above, Clint Dempsey is the most prolific striker out of the pack as he has a conversion rate 39%.

There is a clear advantage with the Seattle Sounders going forward as both their forwards register conversion rates over 35% – further proof that Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are an incredible strike force.

However, notice must be taken of how prolific Blas Perez has been for FC Dallas (38% conversion rate) as has Jozy Altidore on his return to MLS (31% conversion rate).

Who do you think has been the best striker in MLS this season?

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2014 MLS Season Review: Vancouver Whitecaps

Western Conference Final Position: 5th

Western Conference Playoffs: Knockout Round

Review

Despite their agonising exit from the playoffs via a 2-1 defeat at the hands of FC Dallas, the 2014 season will go down as the best so far for the Vancouver Whitecaps since they began competing in Major League Soccer in 2011. It saw them record their highest points tally (50) – their previous best was the 48 points they accumulated last season (2013).

Best Moment

Their five-game unbeaten run at the end of the season is the biggest highlight as they charged towards the playoff positions and nipped in ahead of Portland Timbers by just one point.

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Worst Moment

The 84th minute penalty conceded by Kendall Watson after he was controversially adjudged to have handled the ball intentionally against FC Dallas in the playoff knockout game. Some will argue that it was the right call to award the spot kick, while many will say very much the opposite. Whatever way you dress it up, it’s a gut wrenching way to lose any game of soccer, let alone bow out of the playoffs. You have to sympathise for the Whitecaps who had worked ever so hard to be in such a great position this season.

Player of the Year

Pedro Morales is a name that has rightly popped up frequently when discussing the Vancouver team. The Chilean has been an inspiration in midfield and to finish the 2014 season as the top goalscorer and assist-maker at the club shows how crucial he is and will continue to be. Keeping hold of him is essential to their future.

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Biggest Win

Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1 New York Red Bulls (March 9 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-3 Portland Timbers (August 31 2014)

Portland Timbers 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps (September 20 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

There are numerous positives to take from their performance this year. They have shown a gradual improvement for every season that they have been in MLS and this should fill them with confidence that they can continue to grow.

Vancouver Whitecaps points tally since participation in Major League Soccer:

Whitecaps points tallies

One area they could look to improve is up-front. They have lacked a prolific goalscorer and have relied heavily on Pedro Morales to do the business from midfield. The man with the most goals for the Whitecaps other than Morales is Darren Mattocks with six.

The news of Erick Torres becoming a free agent in the close season is interesting and he could be someone that’s on their radar as they look to fill that void.

Vancouver Whitecaps have the potential to be one of the strongest teams for the 2015 season.

2014 MLS Season Review: Chicago Fire

Eastern Conference Final Position: 9th

Review

Chicago Fire had a difficult start to the season, having to wait until their ninth game for a win. Their tough opening was unfortunate and indicated what was to come for the rest of the regular season. The Fire only managed back-to-back wins on one occasion and narrowly escaped finishing at the foot of the table.

Best Moment

Doing the double over New York Red Bulls – one of which was a nine-goal thriller, ending 5-4. After leading the game early on, they then fell 2-1 behind. They showed resilience and power to score four without reply to lead 5-2. There was late drama from the record leveller, Bradley Wright Phillips, making the score 5-4. The Fire managed a last ten minute shut out in one of the most exhilarating games of the season.

Worst Moment

Their eight-game winless run at the beginning almost determined their fate and made it extremely difficult to push on for the rest of the season.

Player of the Year

Jeff Larentowicz. The midfielder is someone Fire need to build around as he was one of a few solid players and the joint top appearance maker. Larentowicz was also joint second top goalscorer.

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Biggest Win

New York Red Bulls 4-5 Chicago Fire (May 11 2014).

All six of Fire’s wins were only by the single goal. With that in mind, it’s worth assessing the biggest win in terms of the performance.

Biggest Defeat

San Jose Earthquakes 5-1 Chicago Fire (July 24 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Turning draws into wins is a must for Chicago. Their inability to win games evidently cost them any chance of pushing for the playoffs. Their staggering 18 draws was the highest out of both conferences, but Fire must take a positive that they managed to avoid defeat in 24 of their 34 games. In comparison, Seattle Sounders were another side who lost ten games, proving the difference and importance of winning. They have to build on some solid performances in the season and beating a handful of the top five.

2014 MLS Season Review: Portland Timbers

Western Conference Final Position: 6th

Review

The 2014 season started slowly and it took Portland nine games to record their first win but they eventually burst in to life. Unfortunately for the Timbers, it all came to an agonising conclusion as they narrowly missed out on the playoffs, finishing in sixth place, just one point behind Vancouver Whitecaps. They are certainly the best MLS team that won’t feature in the playoffs this year and it will be a bitter pill to swallow considering how well they have played at times this season.

Best Moment

Coming from a goal behind to win 3-1 away at Real Salt Lake in June is one of their greatest achievements for 2014. It’s the only home defeat that Real Salt Lake suffered all season and a result they can be proud of.

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Worst Moment

The defeat in Toronto at the end of September is the one that will have hurt them the most and is essentially the result that cost them their place in the playoffs. Having led the game 2-0 at half-time, they will be devastated that they somehow squandered a two-goal lead and lost the game 3-2, thanks to an 89th minute winner from Michael Bradley.

Player of the Year

Diego Valeri has been inspirational for the Timbers. He’s scored 11 goals from midfield and assisted 14. Contributing 25 goals from midfield is very impressive. Maximiliano Urruti is another player who has been in fine form this season, but Valeri has been the main man and has even been discussed as an outsider for the MVP award.

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Biggest Win

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-3 Portland Timbers (August 31 2014)

Portland Timbers 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps (September 20 2014)

Portland Timbers 3-0 San Jose Earthquakes (October 9 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Portland Timbers 2-4 Seattle Sounders (August 24 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

The margin of error in soccer can be so small at times. They will reflect on a good season that will be littered with ifs and buts. The main criticism of Portland would be how slowly they started the season. One win from their opening 11 games left them a monumental task to try and finish in a playoff position and they almost made it. If they hadn’t been so slow out of the blocks, they would have comfortably secured a playoff spot and their season wouldn’t already be over now. They will be a force in the 2015 season.

Bradley Wright-Phillips cements place in MLS history with tied goalscoring record

Bradley Wright-Phillips made history on Sunday as he fired himself in to the record books by becoming the joint highest goalscorer in an MLS season.

His brace in Kansas helped New York Red Bulls to a 2-0 win and in the process took his tally to 27 goals – a number only previously achieved by Chris Wondolowski of San Jose Earthquakes in 2012 and Roy Lassiter of the now dissolved Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996.

Out of the three strikers that share the record, he managed to amass his goals in the least game time with 2,573 minutes spent on the pitch compared to the 2,813 minutes and 2,580 minutes that it took Wondolowski and Lassiter respectively.

He started less games and also managed to record the highest number of shots-on-target out of the three.

BWP StatsOther than one great season at Charlton Athletic in the 2011/12 campaign, Wright-Phillips was a player struggling to find his feet in the English game and the epiphany to join Major League Soccer must be a moment he looks back on with great fondness having now established himself as one of the sport’s truly great players.

Crossing the Atlantic is undoubtedly one of the boldest but greatest moves he has made in his career and now he’s reaping the rewards as well as hunting down MLS Cup glory with New York Red Bulls.

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Winning the golden boot and equalling the record is a wonderful achievement for the Englishman but his work for the season is far from over as attentions turn immediately to the Eastern Conference knockout round where New York will take on Sporting Kansas City at the Red Bull Arena on Thursday.

The way he performs in the knockout round and the further potential playoff games will be vital to the Red Bulls if they are to stand any chance of making the MLS Cup Final on Sunday 7th December.

Can Bradley Wright-Phillips fire New York Red Bulls to MLS Cup success?

Player ratings: Seattle Sounders 2-0 LA Galaxy

Seattle Sounders clinched their first ever Supporters’ Shield with a gutsy 2-0 victory over Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy at CenturyLink Field.

They battled through a fiery opening 30 minutes, with possession largely dominated by the Galaxy.

Pure grit, determination and passion got them through those early stages and their tactics were spot on as a frustrated LA couldn’t find a way through.

When chances came their way late on, they made the most of it and in the end they probably deserved the victory.

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[Seattle Sounders had already tasted glory this season when they won the 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup]

Seattle Sounders:

  • Stefan Frei (Goalkeeper) – 7/10 – Despite LA’s early dominance of possession, they didn’t create much which left Frei with little to do. The one occasion he was called upon came when Landon Donovan tried to latch on to a through ball but Frei did well to close the angle down and leave Donovan with no time to think.
  • DeAndre Yedlin (Defender) – 7/10 – He was reliable and solid for the most part but did look susceptible at times on the outside flank. His work-rate was excellent.
  • Chad Marshall (Defender) – 8/10 – He was influential at the back and was the glue that kept the Sounders unit tied together. He won everything in the air and was tidy on the ground with great passing accuracy. (80% according to whoscored.com)
  • Zach Scott (Defender) – 7/10 – A faultless performance at the heart of defence. His partnership with Marshall played a crucial role in keeping a clean sheet.
  • Leonardo Gonzalez (Defender) – 7/10 – The Sounders full-backs had to be alert and aware of the threat LA posed from out wide as they looked to expose the flanks but Gonzalez was more than wise to those kind of tactics.
  • Brad Evans (Midfielder) – 6/10 – You can’t be too critical of the Sounders defence as they stuck to their task so well but his poor passing accuracy of 56% (according to whoscored.com) makes it hard to award higher than a 6.
  • Osvaldo Alonso (Midfielder) – 8/10 – He was instrumental in the execution of the game plan. He was consistently good with his passing throughout and wasn’t wasteful in possession in the same way that some of the Sounders players were.
  • Gonzalo Pineda (Midfielder) – 7/10 – He played with aggression, fight and determination. He was perhaps guilty of letting it spiral out of control at times but he was a terrier in the middle of the park and consistently hounded the Galaxy midfield when they were in possession.
  • Lamar Neagle (Midfielder) – 6/10 – He stuck to his defensive duties well but struggled to find teammates with his passing, particularly in the first half.
  • Clint Dempsey (Forward) – 7/10 – He wouldn’t let the LA defence relax and he was a nuisance to deal with in the second half.
  • Obafemi Martins (Forward) – 8/10 – He’s hunting down the MVP award and he certainly didn’t harm his chances here. He was strong and confident and played the crucial killer pass in to Marco Pappa for the first goal that took all the wind out of LA Galaxy’s sails.
  • Marco Pappa (Forward) – 9/10 – Man of the match and he was only on the pitch for 20 minutes. He made the difference with a composed finish for the first goal. And with seconds remaining on the clock, his never say die attitude saw him hound the Galaxy ‘keeper, Jaime Penedo, steal the ball and scoop it into the net for the second.
  • Djimi Traore (Defender) – 6/10 – He was on the pitch for all of 30 seconds so had no chance of making an impact.

LA Galaxy:

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  • Jaime Penedo (Goalkeeper) – 5/10 – He made a shocking error for the second goal. He didn’t have a terrible game beforehand but allowing an opposing player to dispossess you when you play in goal is unacceptable. He certainly won’t want to see it again.
  • Dan Gargan (Defender) – 6/10 – He linked up well with the Galaxy midfield but his positioning was questionable for the first goal and he’ll be disappointed that he wasn’t able to do more in order to prevent Marco Pappa.
  • Leonardo (Defender) – 6/10 – The Galaxy back line had relatively little to do throughout this game in terms of defensive work, so to concede two goals is disappointing for the centre-backs.
  • A. J. DeLaGarza (Defender) – 6/10 – He will be disappointed with how open they left themselves for the first goal with the game so delicately poised at 0-0.
  • Robbie Rogers (Defender) – 7/10 – One of the better performers on the day for LA Galaxy. He put in a real shift but to no avail.
  • Baggio Husidic (Midfielder) – 6/10 – He was reliable on the ball but struggled to make an impact from the wide areas.
  • Juninho (Midfielder) – 7/10 – The midfield maestro was strong in possession and shifted the ball about nicely but it wasn’t enough to carve an opening through the solid Sounders defence.
  • Marcelo Sarvas (Midfielder) – 7/10 – He battled well and his passing was brilliant. He didn’t shy away from challenges and provided great support for fellow midfielder, Juninho.
  • Stefan Ishizaki (Midfielder) – 6/10 – LA would have hoped for more from the Swede. His passing was disappointing for a position normally associated with accuracy. (70% accuracy according to whoscored.com)
  • Gyasi Zardes (Forward) – 6/10 – He made good runs in behind and worked tirelessly to create an opening but it wasn’t a good day to be playing up front for LA Galaxy with such limited opportunities.
  • Landon Donovan (Forward) – 6/10 – The club legend almost appeared to be trying too hard to make something happen for his side. You can’t fault his work-rate and effort, but it just didn’t come off for him in his final regular season game.
  • Alan Gordon (Forward) – 5/10 – LA Galaxy’s best chance of the game fell to his feet late on but it’s fair to say that he somewhat fluffed his lines.
  • Jose Villarreal (Forward) – 6/10 – He only entered the field of play for the last few minutes of the game so he couldn’t impose himself on the game.

Attentions will now turn to the playoffs for these two sides and there is a strong possibility that they could meet each other again in the Western Conference finals.

Which team will go further in the MLS Playoffs, Seattle Sounders or LA Galaxy?

Robbie Keane: The goal machine

The playoffs are now fast approaching and other than their defeat last weekend, LA Galaxy have been in a superb run of form going in to it, so they will be full of confidence.

They have lost just 3 of their last 24 games and went on a 10-game unbeaten run from 29th July to 5th October.

LA Galaxy’s last 24 games: Played 24 – Won 15 – Drawn 6 – Lost 3

Much of the attention for their achievements so far this season have focused on club legend, Landon Donovan, and rightly so.

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But with all eyes on Donovan, it’s allowed forward, Robbie Keane, to go about his business quietly but extremely efficiently.

He is the Galaxy’s top goalscorer with 19 and is the third highest across the entire MLS this season, behind only Red Bulls record-chaser Bradley Wright-Phillips (25 goals) and Dom Dwyer (21 goals) of Sporting Kansas City.

The Irishman has contributed an almost record-breaking 33 goals this season (19 scored – 14 assisted).

The record for most goals contributed in one MLS season is currently held by Chris Wondolowski when he notched 27 goals and 7 assists for San Jose Earthquakes in 2012, making it 34 in total.

Other notable efforts were that of Jason Kreis – he contributed 33 goals (18 scored – 15 assisted) for FC Dallas in 1999.

Cobi Jones, also of LA Galaxy, contributed 32 goals (19 scored – 13 assisted) in the 1998 season.

Most goals contributed in an MLS season

  • 34 – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 2012
  • 33 Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) 2014
  • 33 – Jason Kreis (FC Dallas) – 1999
  • 32 – Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy) – 1998
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It all means that if Robbie Keane can either assist or score one more goal in his last two games, he will equal the record for most goals contributed in any MLS season – two more goals would see him set the record.

It comes as no coincidence as his maiden voyage in Major League Soccer saw him play a hand in 25 goals when he scored 16 and set-up 9 in the 2012 season.

The 2013 season saw him involved in 27 goals with 16 scored and 11 assisted, so he has been very consistent for three years running now and it certainly deserves a mention.

Will Robbie Keane set the record for most goals contributed in an MLS season?

Takeaways from Kansas City’s first win in six over the Dynamo

Houston Dynamo slumped to their fourth straight loss on Friday night as Sporting Kansas City won 2-0 to end their run of five games without a win.

Both teams were coming off the back of poor performances recently and we have collected a few things we can take from the encounter on Friday night.

1. Giles Barnes still hasn’t made enough impact

It has been a while since the English were excited by the future-star Barnes and he has yet to make a significant impact in MLS.

Being one of their main players has come at a hardship for Barnes, as he has struggled to find his ideal position.

Barnes has all the potential to succeed but he has yet to provide reason to suggest he can consistently perform.

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2. Dynamo’s diabolical defending

The Dynamo have now conceded ten goals in four games and have failed to score in each of those games too.

This is very worrying times and they will need to change something quickly.

They failed to read the clever runs of Dom Dwyer and it left them extremely exposed.

A new signing may spark a bit of life into this dire defensive unit.

3. Dom Dwyer the Difference

Once again the Englishman was the spearhead for the SKC attack and proved extremely dangerous from any position within the Houston half.

Take note that he was playing against the worst team in the league in terms of form at the moment, yet he will still feel good to get back to scoring as he had failed to score in the previous two matches.

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Major League Soccer: The next steps

MLS is an ever-expanding league and with expansion comes adaptations. We take a look at a few issues the league will have to tackle in the near future as a result of the growth.

Foreign Imports

The league must understand the importance of not becoming an ‘international league’ in which most of the players are of foreign origin; as is the case with the Premier League.

The Premier League has put some rules in place which attempt to fix this issue, but the change has come too late. It is important that MLS takes precautionary action rather than reaction.

This will only improve the quality of soccer throughout the US and the national side will benefit greatly as a result.

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Salary Cap

In order to attract ‘star players’ the salary cap will need to be either increased or abolished, as it will hinder progression.

Players are only coming over towards the end of their careers due to the current wage structure, mainly because they could earn more sitting on the bench in England at the moment.

The designated player rule works well to maintain a level playing field across the league but the squad’s must be filled with more than just three key players in the near future.

Supply for the National team

The current USMNT World Cup squad plays host to ten players from MLS. This is a vast improvement from four years ago where only four were playing in America.

MLS should be a supplement league in which the USMNT has a vast number of talented players to pick from. This would enhance the league further if the National team were higher up the FIFA rankings.

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Quality over quantity

It’s important that MLS doesn’t get overcrowded. The appeal at the moment is that it’s growing very quickly and it’s very exciting.

However, should the league get to 32 teams too soon, the appeal will be lost and interest will decrease. Gradual progression is needed and improving the standard of the league will keep the interest.

Goals

Like other American sports; Basketball and American football, soccer needs a high scoring rate. The league produces some great games because of the intensity of attacks.

This has been lost in the Premier League recently with the introduction of managers like Jose Mourinho, who brought a negative mindset to the league.

Tactics are important, but entertainment is what gets crowds in the gates.

The fans want to see goals. Oblige them.

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Just how good is Landon Donovan? An in-depth look at the greatest ever MLS striker

As the dust is beginning to settle on the remarkable record set by Landon Donovan on Sunday and as his achievement starts to sink in, it’s a good time to judge how good he really is.

A striker will always be judged on the goals they have scored and how regularly they manage to score them.

But for a striker to be regarded as the complete player, they need to be capable of creating chances for others as well as sticking away the ones that fall their way.

In view of this, and taking in to consideration the top ten goalscorers in MLS history, how does Donovan compare and is he really the best of the lot?

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He has a shots-attempted-to-goals-scored conversion ratio of 20.5%, which is second only to the retired Roy Lassiter who had an impressive ratio of 22.1%.

If you combine the total amount of goals contributed in a game by any player, which includes goals scored and assists, Landon Donovan has the best record of all-time with an impressive average of 0.82 goals contributed per game.

The next most successful player is ex-New England Revolution man Taylor Twellman, who had a ratio of 0.74 goals contributed per game.

So not only is Donovan now officially the top goalscorer in MLS history, if you study the game and stats more closely you can see that he is genuinely the best striker to have graced any MLS pitch.

Once again – a big well done to Landon Donovan.

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So how has he missed out on being selected in the squad for the World Cup in Brazil?

In a nutshell, nobody really knows because statistically, he is more than good enough to have earned a spot in the team.

By not selecting Donovan, it suggests that there are 23 other American players better than he is, or that they will serve the team to a better extent, but this is hard to agree with.

Various critics have stated that it’s about developing for the future as the likes of Julian Green, 18, who plays for the Bayern Munich reserve side, have been given an opportunity.

But when you look at the ages of the other strikers included, you can see that surely this isn’t relevant to the selection and that for whatever reason it may be, Klinsmann just isn’t a fan of Donovan.

His league goals per game ratio is better than 3 of the other strikers selected, so one can only assume that it comes down to personal preference for Klinsmann.

League Goals per game average:

  • Landon Donovan (aged 32) – 0.44 league goals per game

Strikers Selected for the World Cup squad:

  • Chris Wondolowski (aged 31) – 0.47 league goals per game
  • Aron Johannsson (aged 23) – 0.43 league goals per game
  • Jozy Altidore (aged 24) – 0.31 league goals per game
  • Clint Dempsey (aged 31) – 0.30 league goals per game

The mystery surrounding his absence may never be solved, but it is clear that the USMNT would be in a better position were Landon Donovan set to fly out to Brazil next month, and it is disappointing to see the best striker MLS has ever seen miss out on the chance to represent his country for the fourth time.

All 136 of Landon Donovan’s MLS goals can be viewed below courtesy of mlssoccer.com: