4 candidates to win the 2018 MLS Golden Boot
The 2018 MLS season will start this weekend. The campaign promises to be filled with star players and a playing level previously unseen on American soil. One reason is the influx of players with attacking quality. Almost every team has at least one exciting option upfront. This season has the potential to be one to remember.
Here are the top five candidates for the 2018 MLS Golden Boot.
Nemanja Nikolic - Chicago Fire
What better way to start talking about scorers than with last season's top marksman? Nikolic took MLS by storm in 2017. He was an integral part of Chicago Fire's success, although their run ended with an early exit in the playoffs. The Hungary international finished the campaign with 24 goals in 34 appearances. He also has five goals in 25 international appearances with his country. The 30-year-old has quickly established himself as a deadly, reliable scorer upfront for a talented Chicago team. Will he repeat that feat in 2018 despite David Accam and Arturo Alvarez's departures?
Diego Valeri - Portland Timbers
Next up is the reigning MVP. The Argentinian midfielder was chosen as the best player last season for good reason. He ended Portland's campaign with an impressive 21 goals and 11 assists despite not playing as a striker. It isn't very likely he will reach the 20-goal threshold with Fanendo Adi now fronting the Timbers. But the former Lanus star has defied expectations time and again. Could he win a second straight MVP award while becoming the league's top scorer?
Ola Kamara - Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy were Major League Soccer's biggest disappointment last season. They narrowly avoided the basement in the Western Conference standings despite the fact theirs was among the most talented squads in the league. Knowing they needed to make a splash in case they couldn't sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Angelinos decided to complete a trade with Columbus Crew. It was a straight swap, one scorer for another. The inconsistent American international Gyasi Zardes headed east with the Norwegian hitman coming the other way. Kamara has played two full MLS seasons and the results have been impressive: 16 goals in 25 appearances in 2016, 18 in 34 in 2017. Will he reach the 20-goal mark with his new club? Playing alongside Gio dos Santos might be the difference he needs. In any case, don't sleep on him. Both Kamara and Galaxy are due for a turnaround season.
Josef Martinez - Atlanta United
Last but not least, we have to mention Martinez. The Venezuelan striker had an impressive debut season. He registered 19 goals in 20 appearances, all but one a start. The lone reason he didn't have more goals was injury. When healthy he was unstoppable. Atlanta are contenders for the MLS Cup. There is no reason the Venezuelan shouldn't exceed his 2017 season if he can stay fit. Tata Martino had the squad set up to exploit Martinez's deadly form in 2017. Expect more of the same in 2018.