Sports Strength

10 Must-Watch MLS Golden Boot Contenders

Every year MLS seemingly adds more promising attackers to its plethora of talent across the league, and the result is some incredibly exciting goals throughout the U.S.’ top division. 

Over the years we’ve seen incredible goal scorers grace the pitch in MLS, including David Villa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sebastian Giovinco and Robbie Keane. 

We’ve since moved on to a new crop of stars like Carlos Vela, Gonzalo Higuain and Alan Pulido, who are eager to keep up the tradition of balling out as MLS continues to grow on a global scale.

Today, One37pm takes a look at the 10 most likely MLS Golden Boot contenders for the 2021 season.

Gyasi Zardes – Columbus Crew SC

The USMNT forward has been a revelation for the Crew since arriving at the club in 2018, scoring 34 goals in the process. Zardes plays a huge role in the Columbus attack, which features a number of talented Lucas Zelarayan, Pedro Santos and Derrick Etienne Jr. 

Gonzalo Higuain – Inter Miami CF

Higuain joined Miami last season after a tremendous career across Europe, which featured stints at Real Madrid, Napoli, Juventus, AC Milan and Chelsea. The Argentina international immediately proved his worth with Miami when he blasted a stunning free kick goal against the New York Red Bulls in his debut a season ago, and the Eastern Conference side will undoubtedly benefit from his presence.

Josef Martinez – Atlanta United

The return of Martinez will be very exciting for Atlanta fans after suffering a brutal ACL injury in last season’s opener in Nashville. The 27-year-old striker has been one of MLS’ elite forwards since joining the league and scored 90 goals across all competitions. With the emergence of Ezequiel Barco and Jurgen Damm, Martinez should be in store for a huge season once he finds his footing.

Jeremy Ebobisse – Portland Timbers

The Timbers forward has quickly become an important part of Portland’s attack since he first started seeing an increased role with the club in 2019. Portland remains one of the top teams in MLS, and they’ll need Ebobisse to have a strong season if the team is to make a run at another MLS Cup in the near future.

Carlos Vela – Los Angeles FC

Vela’s already an MLS Golden Boot winner, having taken home the honors in 2019 — his only full MLS season to this point in his career. The Mexico international also won MVP that year, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t replicate that feat again in 2021 after sitting out a long portion of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alan Pulido – Sporting KC

Sporting KC broke the bank to get Pulido before COVID-19 halted MLS last year, but the Mexican striker still managed to produce in very limited time with the club. With Johnny Russell, Gael Kinda and Khiry Shelton dangerous in attacking positions for Sporting KC, expect Pulido to find himself in plenty of positions to score a healthy number of goals.

Valentin Castellanos – New York City FC

Castellanos was linked with a move away from NYCFC during the offseason, but the club appears to be in no hurry to move their promising attacker. With starting striker Heber sidelined due to injury, Castellanos will have a major role up front for the Yankee Stadium side in 2021. Castellanos led NYCFC in goals a season ago, and they’ll need him to up the production even more to make a run in the East.

Raul Ruidiaz – Seattle Sounders

The Peru international has hit double-digit goals in each season he’s spent in Seattle, becoming a household name throughout MLS as not only a creator but a goal scorer as well. Without Jordan Morris healthy, the Sounders will rely heavily on Ruidiaz and Nico Lodeiro to shoulder the goal scoring load for Seattle.

Gustavo Bou – New England Revolution

The Revolution boast one of the darkhorse rosters in MLS, and 2021 really feels like a season where Bruce Arena and Co. can make a dent in the Eastern Conference and push towards a championship. Bou is lethal up front and benefits from having Carles Gil providing service from the wings. 

Alejandro Pozuelo – Toronto FC

Toronto has benefited from Pozuelo’s presence since Day 1, immediately replacing Giovinco when he left the club. Pozuelo is as exciting as they come in the attacking third, using his low center of gravity to work past defenders but still generate an insane amount of power on his shots. The Spaniard was named in the MLS Best XI two straight seasons after joining the league in 2019.

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