By Ridge Mahoney
How to differentiate forwards from strikers? This is one way.
The loose definitions used here are that strikers play further forward most of the time, with forwards working underneath and alongside. Not every team plays this way, and some teams really only play with one man up top, but generally, most players can be categorized in this manner.
Best of MLS 2013:
Right Backs: Sheanon Williams
Right Centerbacks:Jamison Olave
Left Centerbacks:Jose Goncalves
Left Backs:Seth Sinovic
Right Midfielders:Sebastien Le Toux
Holding Midfielders:Kyle Beckerman
Central Midfielders: Will Johnson
Left Midfielders:Diego Fagundez
Attacking Midfielders: Javier Morales
Wide players in a three-man front line, such as Portland’s Darlington Nagbe, are classified as forwards. One of his partners up top, Ryan Johnson, usually plays centrally and thus is defined as a striker.
Not so simple is the case of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. Both are adept anywhere in the forward line or dropping back into midfield, and equally capable of playing underneath his partner or higher up the field. They are similar players and so both are rated as forwards, since during their Galaxy careers they have played with true strikers -- Edson Buddle, Robbie Findley -- as well as each other.
The positional rankings are based on league and playoff performances during the 2013 season.
SA's Top 10 MLS Forwards (2013)
1. (5*) Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)
2. (9**) Camilo(Vancouver Whitecaps)
3. (1***) Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
4. (5) Landon Donovan(LA Galaxy)
5. (9*) Darlington Nagbe(Portland Timbers)
6. (NR) Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution)
7. (1) Chris Wondolowski(San Jose Earthquakes)
8. (2***) Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
9. (NR) Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union)
10. (NR) Rodney Wallace (Portland Timbers)
Note: In parentheses 2012 ranking of all forwards.
NR=not ranked in 2012; -=not in MLS in 2012. *=ranked as left midfielder in 2012. **=ranked as attacking midfielder in 2012. ***=ranked as striker in 2012.
Mike Magee transformed himself from clutch role player for the Galaxy to scoring star in Chicago, with which he had trained as a youth. His slick finishing netted 15 goals for the Fire and his overall total of 21 tripled a previous high of seven scored as a rookie in 2003. He also set a personal best of 32 appearances (all starts) and captured MVP honors in an incredible season.
By winning the scoring title with 22 goals, including the Goal of the Year, Camilo matured from Brazilian curiosity to MLS juggernaut. He deserved serious MVP consideration, as did Keane, who led the Galaxy with 16 goals, tacked on 11 assists and exasperated opponents and officials in just about every game. Donovan finished second on the team to Keane in both categories (10 goals, nine assists) in season limited to 22 games by national-team duty, rest, and a sabbatical.
Nagbe played and started every game for the first time as a pro to score nine goals and notch four assists, a performance that earned him team player of the year honors as voted by his teammates. Juan Agudelo, 20, scored seven goals in 14 games for the Revs after arriving in a trade from Chivas USA and looked out of sorts at times playing wide; his backheel flicked goal against Chicago showed why many foreign teams would love to sign him. Denial of a UK work permit canceled a pending transfer to Stoke City. Chris Wondolowskidipped severely from his record-tying season of 27 goals in 2012, but he got in gear during the second half of the season to finish with 11. Despite the drop, his total of 72 goals in four consecutive seasons is an MLS record.
Eddie Johnson diva-ed his way out of Seattle, for which he scored nine goals in 21 games. His antics took him from one of the league’s best teams to its worst as part of major rebuilds of both rosters. Jack McInerney started on fire, then went ice-cold: he drilled 10 goals in the first three months of the season then potted just two the rest of the way. Which way Jack Mac goes in 2014 will shape Philly’s season and the future of head coach John Hackworth.Rodney Wallace is the speedy, left-sided complement to Nagbe in the Timbers’ attack; his seven goals and six assists are the best stats by far of his five-year pro career. A torn ACL suffered in the conference finals cloud his prospects for the 2014 MLS season as well as his World Cup hopes with Costa Rica.
SA's Best Forwards (1996-2013)
2013 Mike Magee
2012 Chris Wondolowski
2011 Chris Wondolowski
2010 Chris Wondolowski
2009 Landon Donovan
2008 Guillermo Barros Schelotto
2007 Ante Razov
2006 Jaime Moreno
2005 Jaime Moreno
2004 Jaime Moreno
2003 Landon Donovan
2002 Cobi Jones
2001 Alex Pineda Chacon
2000 Clint Mathis
1999 Jaime Moreno
1998 Stern John
1997 Jaime Moreno