The race for the Golden Boot as of week 19 is led by Bradley Wright-Phillips of the NY Red Bulls with 16 goals and Dom Dwyer of Sporting Kansas City with 14. A close third is Erick “Cubo” Torres, Chivas USA’s young star with 13. Currently in fourth is Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe. And at fifth, we have a tie between LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane and Clint Dempsey with 9.
With 11 weeks left in the season and the playoff race alive and well, the stakes are sure to get higher as every game becomes more competitive. Last year’s Golden Boot winner Camilo Sanvezzo had an outstanding season scoring 22 goals for Vancouver, a feat surpassed by Chris Wondolowski in 2012 with 27. These players were key contributors to their clubs’ successes the same way the current leaders have been all year. Here are my predictions as to how these players will finish out the regular season.
1) Bradley Wright-Phillips
The league leader in goals this season has dominated the Red Bull’s opposition all year with a unique combination of skills guiding his attack. Wright-Phillips has proven time and time again that he is a perfect complement to fellow New York star Thierry Henry, who is consequently the league leader in assists. This dangerous duo has wreaked havoc on some of Major League Soccer’s best defensive squads. He has recorded hat tricks against Chicago and Houston and has scored against top clubs like Toronto and Kansas City. What makes Wright-Phillips’ success so impressive is that he started the season on the bench and didn’t achieve status as a regular starter until several games into the campaign. I predict that he will continue his outstanding scoring tear and finish out with 22-25 goals, setting the club record.
2) Dom Dwyer
Sporting Kansas City’s impressive play this season has been bolstered by young star Dom Dwyer. Coming off last season’s playoffs, where Dwyer scored the game winning goal for KC to take them to the final, many expected him to become a more pivotal part of team’s attack. He has taken this role in stride, scoring goals against top teams like DC, Chicago, and Toronto. He and Graham Zusi, KC’s team national team standout, create another dangerous 1-2 tandem in the MLS. Dwyer has become a fan favorite in KC for his flamboyant celebrations which include taking ‘selfies’ with fans after goals. I predict that Dwyer will hit at least 20 for the season, and will continue to impress MLS players and fans. He’s definitely a young superstar in the making.
3) Erick “Cubo” Torres
The Chivas USA striker in currently riding a five match scoring streak and has provided a much needed lift for his club in pressure situations. Cubo started his career at the prestigious Guadalajara in Liga MX of Mexico, and is currently on loan for Chivas. Since joining the club, Torres has scored 20 goals in 33 games, and has solidified himself as a star in the MLS. In his 18 appearances in 2014 Torres has recorded 13 goals, just one behind the aforementioned Dom Dwyer. His recent surge has instilled belief that he may surpass Dwyer and may even take the league lead from Wright-Phillips. During the streak his club is 4-0-1… three of those games won with just a goal differential. I predict that Cubo will continue his high level of play and finish above 20 and also ahead of Dom Dwyer.
4) Jermain Defoe
Beginning his career in the English Premier League, Defoe played against a high level of competition early on, giving him valuable experience that has translated well into the MLS. In his first season with Toronto FC, Defoe has been everything the club could have expected, establishing himself a major scoring threat and leading the team in goals. He and USA star Michael Bradley provide yet another 1-2 punch between the midfield and attack. Both of them can draw in defenses and create chances for other players. Given Bradley’s World Cup duty absence, Defoe’s scoring performances are stellar… registering 2 goals in 2 games on separate occasions this season. If Defoe chooses to finish his career in Toronto, he will certainly solidify his status an all time club great. I predict that Defoe will finish strong and end up with 18-20 goals on the year.
5) Robbie Keane (Tie)
Like Jermain Defoe, Keane had an impressive career overseas before deciding to join the LA Galaxy. Keane has proved his value to the Club since 2011, and was named team captain in the beginning of the 2013 season. Alongside Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes, the Galaxy have a formidable attack that is sure to keep other teams on edge come playoff time. In their most recent performance, the Galaxy dismantled the NE Revolution, scoring 5 goals in the onslaught. His 9 goals put him 2 behind Defoe. I see him finishing with anywhere between 15 and 17. Check out his insane long range goal against NE here.
5) Clint Dempsey (Tie)
Clint Dempsey is perhaps the best player in the MLS. His World Cup performance was inspiring for the US, setting the record for quickest goal scored and registering clutch performances against Portugal and Germany through injuries. Given his national team duty absence, Clint Dempsey’s presence at #5 is a testament to his incredible form this year. His heart and hustle have given the Sounders a boost this season, and I see him taking them all the way to the MLS Cup. Any fan of US soccer has got to love Clint Dempsey. I predict him to finish with 15-20 goals and a high assist tally for the Sounders.
Who do you think will win the Golden Boot this year? Let us know in the comments.