The Golden Boot Race is heating up with just two weeks left in the 2017 MLS regular season. With players like David Villa and Nemanja Nikolic on the field, you can expect them to write their name in the record books.
Splendid goals from few star players have put them into the conversations about who will win this year’s Golden Boot. The MLS Golden Boot has been awarded since the 2005 season to Major League Soccer’s regular–season leading scorer. The award replaced the MLS Scoring Champion Award that was awarded since the league’s inception in 1996. From 1996 to 2004 – the MLS Scoring Champion was determined by a total number of points scored – with a goal counting as two points and an assist counting as one. In 2005 – the award was renamed the Golden Boot and was determined solely by a number of goals scored.
- 1996: Roy Lassiter – Tampa Bay Mutiny – 58 points
- 1997: Preki – Kansas City Wizards – 41 points
- 1998: Stern John – Columbus Crew – 57 points
- 1999: Jason Kreis – Dallas Burn – 51 points
- 2000: Mamadou Diallo – Tampa Bay Mutiny – 56 points
- 2001: Alex Pineda Chacón – Miami Fusion – 47 points
- 2002: Taylor Twellman – New England Revolution – 52 points
- 2003: Preki – Kansas City Wizards – 41 points
- 2004: Amado Guevara – MetroStars – 30 points, Pat Noonan New England Revolution – 30 points
- 2005: Taylor Twellman – New England Revolution – 17 goals
- 2006: Jeff Cunningham – Real Salt Lake – 16 goals
- 2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United – 20 goals
- 2008: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy – 20 goals
- 2009: Jeff Cunningham – FC Dallas – 17 goals
- 2010: Chris Wondolowski – San Jose Earthquakes – 18 goals
- 2011: Dwayne De Rosario – D.C. United – 16 goals
- 2012: Chris Wondolowski – San Jose Earthquakes – 27 goals
- 2013: Camilo Sanvezzo – Vancouver Whitecaps – 22 goals
- 2014: Bradley Wright-Phillips – New York Red Bulls – 27 goals
- 2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC – 22 goals
- 2016: Bradley Wright-Phillips – New York Red Bulls – 24 goals
So as the race is on for this year’s Golden Boot, let’s look at the potential winners.
Nemanja Nikolic (21 goals)
A prolific striker from Chicago Fire, Nikolic is leading the race. Based on his goal-scoring record at Toyota Park (16 of 21 goals scored at Toyota Park), Nikolic’s best chance at securing the Golden Boot will likely come in Week 32 at home against Philadelphia. But the Union and Dynamo (especially at home) haven’t exactly been pushovers with fairly solid defensive showings in 2017.
- Remaining Matches: 10/15 vs. PHI; 10/22 @ HOU
- Home/road split: 16 goals at Toyota Park / 5 goals on road
- PHI (career / 2017): Nikolic did not score in his only match vs. PHI on Sept. 23 (2 total shots, 1 on target)
- PHI defensive record: 43 goals allowed (tied for 7th-best defense in MLS); 23 goals allowed in 16 road matches
- HOU (career / 2017): No previous appearances vs. HOU
- HOU defensive record: 44 goals allowed (9th-best defense in MLS); 16 goals allowed in 15 home matches
Diego Valeri (20 goals)
Diego Valeri cannot stop scoring, and his lengthening hot streak is powering him into the thick of both the MLS Golden Boot and MVP races. Valeri scored in nine straight matches before going goalless in his last match against San Jose. Unlike his competitors, Valeri will get to play his last two games at home where he has scored 12 of his 20 goals.
- Remaining Matches: 10/15 vs. DC; 10/22 vs. VAN
- Home/road split: 12 goals at Providence Park / 8 goals on road
- DC (career / 2017): Valeri has not scored in two career games vs. DC (Has not played DC in 2017)
- DC defensive record: 54 goals allowed (tied for 5th-worst defense in MLS); 36 goals allowed in 16 road matches
- VAN (career / 2017): 4 goals scored in 13 games played (0 goals in 2 games played)
- VAN defensive record: 46 goals allowed (tied for 10th-best defense in MLS); 27 goals allowed in 16 road matches
David Villa (20 goals)
Villa scored his first goal in over a month when he was able to get the equalizer against Chicago on Sept. 30. Seeing the Revolution on the schedule looks like a tasty matchup for the Spanish legend but New England’s defense has been markedly better at home than they have been on the road.
- Remaining Matches: 10/15 at NE; 10/22 vs. CLB
- Home/road split: 13 goals at Yankee Stadium / 7 goals on road
- NE (career / 2017): 3 goals scored in 8 games played (1 goal in 2 games played)
- NE defensive record: 58 goals allowed (3rd-worst defense in MLS); 14 goals allowed in 16 home matches
- CLB (career / 2017): 5 goals scored in 5 games played (Has not played CLB in 2017)
- CLB defensive record: 47 goals allowed (12th-best defense in MLS); 30 goals allowed in 16 road matches
Josef Martinez (18 goals)
When he’s been on the field, Martinez has been a monster for Atlanta United. That is especially true when he’s played at home, which he will get to do against a Toronto FC team that might not be playing for much on Decision Day.
- Remaining Matches: 10/15 at NY; 10/22 vs. TOR
- Home/road split: 15 goals at home / 3 goals on road
- NY (career / 2017): 0 goals scored in 1 games played (6 shots, 1 shot on target)
- NY defensive record: 46 goals allowed (tied for 10th-best defense in MLS); 14 goals allowed in 16 home matches
- TOR (career / 2017): Has never faced Toronto
- TOR defensive record: 35 goals allowed (2nd-best defense in MLS); 20 goals allowed in 16 road matchesSource: MLS