MLS Trends: New imports trigger spike in scoring

The 11 games during MLS's Week 8 produced 46 goals, equaling the all-time record for goals scored in a weekend set last year on the final day of the regular season.

Through eight weeks, MLS games are averaging 3.22 goals per game, putting the league on course toward the highest output since 2001.

The influx of attacking players has been a big factor in the spike in scoring. Of the 16 players with four or more goals, 10 are in their first or second season in MLS. And eight of them are Designated Players.

MLS leading scorers:
1. **Josef Martinez (DP), Atlanta United, 6 goals
2. *Carlos Vela (DP), LAFC, 5 goals
3. Bradley Wright-Phillips (DP), NY Red Bulls, 5 goals
3. *Johnny Russell, Sporting KC, 5 goals
3. Dom Dwyer (DP), Orlando City, 5 goals
3. **Nemanja Nikolic (DP), Chicago, 5 goals
3. *Felipe Gutierrez (DP), Sporting KC, 5 goals
3. Gyasi Zardes, Columbus, 5 goals
9. *Diego Rossi (DP), LAFC, 4 goals
9. **Miguel Almiron (DP), Atlanta United, 4 goals
9. Ignacio Piatti (DP), Montreal, 4 goals
9. **Maximiliano Moralez (DP), NYCFC, 4 goals
9. *Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, NYCFC, 4 goals
9. Dominique Badji, Colorado, 4 goals
9. **Sebastian Blanco (DP), Portland, 4 goals
9. Mauro Manotas, Houston, 4 goals
*First-year players; **second-year players.

Only two of the leading scorers are Americans: Dom Dwyer (Orlando City) and Gyasi Zardes (Columbus), tied for third with five goals apiece.

The absence of Americans from the MLS scoring charts is nothing new. No American finished in the top 10 in scoring in 2016 -- Dwyer, tied for fifth with 16 goals, was not yet a U.S. citizen -- and CJ Sapong (16 goals) and Jozy Altidore (15 goals) were the highest in scoring at ninth and 10th in 2017.

Less than a quarter of the goals have been scored by players eligible for the U.S. national team, though the percentage of goals has risen in the last four weeks.

MLS goals (USMNT-eligible players):
Week 1: 4/26 (15.4%)
Week 2: 8/38 (21.1%)
Week 3: 3/24 (12.5%)
Week 4: 3/17 (17.6%)
Week 5: 12/36 (33.3%)
Week 6: 8/24 (33.3%)
Week 7: 7/34 (20.6%)
Week 8: 10/46 (21.7%)
Total: 55/245 (22.4%)

6 comments about "MLS Trends: New imports trigger spike in scoring".
  1. Wooden Ships, April 24, 2018 at 7:49 a.m.

    Zardes leading eligibles speaks volumes. Overcoaching, poor striker training, discouraging the mentality of a determined/hungry finisher are a few reasons we produce hardly any quality goal scorers. Of all field positions, except a 10, this alarmingly goes unaddressed. It’s been this way for how long now? Pitiful.

  2. Ric Fonseca replied, April 24, 2018 at 2:16 p.m.

    WS, I agree with you to a point, but as Paul Kennedy's second part of his headline that I read on my phone, "...where are the Americans...(sic)" is glaringly absent on this piece on my PC.  The question can be rhetorical, yet, speaks volumnes of the league's penchant of- for lack of better term - ignoring the US-born talent pool, 'cause, believe me or not, IT IS THERE, and what MLS HAS to do is to scour the playing fields in this vast country of ours.  And it isn't just the Latino player, but players of other nationalities, residents, citizens, and yes, even dreamers.  In fact, didn't SA recently print an article on the preponderance of SOUTH Americans being signed?  This also brings to mind Brad Rothenberg's comments that US Soccer and MLS fared dismally in not signing or even recruting those players to whom he caters his event.  Go figure!!! 

  3. Wooden Ships replied, April 24, 2018 at 5:01 p.m.

    I agree with you Ric, we’ve had and have skilled players being overlooked and passed on. And, yes, it’s not just the Latin player. It’s like it’s a members only fraternity. I hope Carlos understands this and truly alters our course.

  4. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 8:45 p.m.

    Perhaps the league needs to hire retired players from Europe/ South America, former goal scorers to teach improve and guide the strikers...this is what teams do in Europe. As I stated before USSF has got to bring in coaches who specialize in a certain aspect of the game. Not only goal scorers but midfielders. 

  5. uffe gustafsson, April 24, 2018 at 6:52 p.m.

    Ric besides the high cost of playing club that deterred many inner city Latinos/African from playing.
    but also many of them have jobs after school to help support the families. So they are trapped and can’t play at the next level needed to be looked at.
    I help reffing for kids playing, soccer with out borders,
    they all have jobs after school.
    there are some good players but don’t have resources.
    all their equipment are donated by clubs, they don’t even have enough shin guards for the full team.
    thats what many inner city kids deal with.
    maybe mike w. Will write an article on the struggles for kids from poor families. Especially immigrant families.
    You all talk about pick up games is the panacea for kids to get better, but if you have to put in a shift at burger kings then when u going to play that pick up game?

  6. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 9:11 p.m.

    Uffe, pickup soccer doesn't require you to pay a high of playing club ball. You don't need join a club but  just go out and play. That is what street soccer ,pick up soccer is all about, you are free to enjoy playing which is  done all over the world. In Africa, where kids are worse off and live in a lot more tougher conditions than here come to America with better skills than our kids who live in the suburbs or look to Brazil where the poor kids are so much better than are own kids from the well to do suburbs. Talk to Argentinian or Uruguayan kids who grew up very poor and had to fight for their existence which made them tough players. You should read some of the interviews of famous players who come from South America and Africa, and you'll find out their tough life had made them the players they have become. It is perhaps our rich well to do kids from well to do suburbs don't have the fight for they never had any hardships to endure... 

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