The reasons why 2014 was the most entertaining MLS season for nine years

Fans of the game don’t need to be told how entertaining the most recent Major League Soccer campaign was in terms of the tension, adrenaline, jubilation and despair that it created.

Having been through the emotional roller coaster of supporting your club through a season, most will now be at peace with how their team performed in 2014 – whether they are pleased or disappointed is another question entirely.

In terms of entertainment value, MLS has come up trumps once again as the 2014 season saw 924 goals hitting the back of the net – the most ever scored in a regular season.

Embed from Getty Images

Since 2012, MLS has seen more matches being played over the course of the season due to more teams being in the league and format adjustments, so it would be easy to say that the only reason we’ve seen the most goals is because there are more games.

While that is true, it’s important to bear in mind that 2014 managed to produce the highest average goals-per-game ratio since 2005 and that the standard of play in the league is now far higher than nine years ago.

MLS, year by year:

mls season stats

A closer look at the numbers will also tell you that the 2014 season saw the highest average attendance in the history of Major League Soccer.

The average attendance is up by 554 on last season and is 341 higher than the previous record of 18,807 that we saw in 2012.

With New York City and Orlando City joining in 2015, it’s clear for all to see the growth of MLS and if ever there was proof needed that the league was on the rise, then the attendance figures for this year just about confirm that fact.

Is Major League Soccer becoming one of the biggest leagues in the world?

Advertisements

Thierry Henry: The living legend – A look at the New York Red Bulls stars MLS numbers

Legend is a word sometimes brandished loosely, but in the case of Thierry Henry, it’s about the only word that does him and his achievements justice.

No one knows what his next move will be since his recent departure from the New York Red Bulls, but one thing that is certain is that he has enjoyed an illustrious career and his services to soccer will never be forgotten.

Here is a breakdown of Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls career:

Titi Red Bulls in numbers

Statistically, 2012 was Henry’s best season in Major League Soccer as he recorded his highest goals tally in one MLS season, his best goals-per-game ratio, goals-per-minute ratio and goals contributed.

His final season saw him take on the role of provider and he notched 14 assists (his highest number of assists in one MLS season), many of which would have been for top goalscorer Bradley Wright-Phillips who has become a designated player since Henry’s departure.

Four years and five seasons at the Red Bulls brought some moments to remember and here is his time at the New York club in numbers:

Rumours are swelling about his next step with many linking him with a possible return to Arsenal – perhaps in a non-playing role – but whatever happens, everyone in MLS and at MLSGB will miss seeing him play in the USA.

What will be the next move for Thierry Henry?

The 2014 MLS Cup guarantees to make history

The team that now goes on to win the 2014 MLS Cup will be making new history in some way or another which only adds to the excitement and intensity we’re all expecting.

Seattle Sounders have had a fantastic season irrelevant of the eventual outcome of their MLS Cup campaign as they scooped the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup double.

However, should they manage to seal MLS Cup glory, they will become the first ever team to complete the treble and thereby print their name in the record books, which would be a remarkable achievement and truly cement the fact that they have been the best team this season.

Embed from Getty Images

[Seattle Sounders enjoyed success in this year’s U.S. Open Cup]

LA Galaxy narrowly missed out on the Supporters’ Shield title when they lost 2-0 to Seattle Sounders, but they can focus all their attention on trying to bring home the MLS Cup.

If they go on to win it, they will become the most successful team in the history of the competition with five titles – they are currently tied on four with DC United.

Meanwhile, both New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls are hunting down their first ever title in this competition.

The Revs are probably the unluckiest team in MLS Cup history having been to four finals and finished on the losing end on every occasion, twice losing 1-0 after extra-time and once losing on penalties.

Title winners since 1996:

MLS HistoryWhatever happens, it promises to be entertaining and will also set new history for one of the clubs.

Who do you think will win the 2014 MLS Cup?

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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?

Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Colorado Rapids

BC Place will play host to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night, as Vancouver will look to secure the final playoff berth with a win, and beat the Portland Timbers to it.

Vancouver is only one point ahead of the Timbers with one to play, so Vancouver’s fate is still in their own hands, and they kick-off just half an hour after Portland get underway in Dallas.

Colorado come into this game looking like a team that’s given up, as they haven’t registered a win in 13, whereas the Whitecaps haven’t conceded a goal since September.

Vancouver’s home form: Played 16 – Won 8 – Drawn 5 – Lost 3

However, in the previous meetings this season the Rapids have won both. Could the Rapids be going for a third straight win against the Whitecaps, and possibly end their playoff hopes?

Embed from Getty Images

Vancouver has won their last three at home so the Rapids have it all to do, and all signs point towards a Whitecaps win as the Rapids have lost their last eight on the road.

Colorado’s away form: Played 16 – Won 2 – Drawn 3 – Lost 11

Colorado has nothing to play for but pride, and possibly the chance to deny Vancouver a playoff spot in what promises to be an entertaining finish to the regular season.

Key Player: Pedro Morales – Scoring ten goals and assisting nine this season has made Morales as hugely important figure in the Whitecaps team.

Key Stat: Colorado’s last away win was against Toronto FC – in April.

Vancouver’s last five: L/W/W/W/D

Colorado’s last five: L/D/L/L/L

Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 0 Colorado Rapids – Vancouver to seal final playoff spot with victory.

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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
Embed from Getty Images

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?

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?

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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:

Landon Donovan makes MLS history in an “emotional” week

Landon Donovan scored his 135th and 136th goals in LA Galaxy’s 4-1 win against Philadelphia Union tonight to become the all-time leading goalscorer in MLS history, to cap off what he described as “an emotional three days”.

The American was left off the USMNT’s World Cup squad by coach Jurgen Klinsmann last week, but ensured that he channeled all his disappointment into a strong performance for the Galaxy on Sunday night.

Donovan has been waiting eight months to score that elusive 135th goal, and it came in the 50th minute of last night’s game, after Robbie Keane found him with an open goal to fire into, capping off a tumultuous week in the best way possible.

“It’s been an emotional three days. A lot of down and a lot of up honestly. The love I’ve received from everybody here, including when I walked out for warm-ups with signs and people staying stuff, has been amazing. And I’m really happy it ended this way for this week.”

“It’s been a while so there are a lot of emotions. Just getting on the scoreboard again was nice. Hitting the net was nice. Getting the 135 on the back of what happened this week. It was a good feeling,” Donovan said speaking to Time Warner Cable Sportsnet after the game.

The emotion was clear for all to see after Donovan netted the goal, as he celebrated with teammates to an enduring standing ovation by supporters throughout the StubHub Center.

Donovan’s record-breaking goal in last night’s with via MLS on YouTube:

He then added a second later in the game to move to 136 goals in his illustrious MLS career, and his spectacular performance will only add fuel to the debate that he should be in the USMNT World Cup squad.

All 136 of Landon Donovan’s career goals in Major League Soccer can be viewed via this link.