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Climbing The Ladder: MLS approaching 10,000th goal

Climbing the Ladder

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

During First Kick weekend this past March, Dwayne De Rosario scored the 8,000th regular-season goal in MLS history. Now there’s an even greater goal-scoring milestone on the horizon: 10,000 goals scored by MLS teams in all competitions.

That includes the MLS regular season, plus 12 other tournaments and cups that have been played over the years, such as the US and Canadian domestic cups and those from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. Not included are preseason/friendly tournaments, like the LA Galaxy’s participation in the 2003 South Korean Peace Cup or New York’s victory in the 2004 La Manga cup held in Spain.

The current total is 9,964 goals, though the sum adds up to one more. That’s because of the August 1999 regular-season game between Colorado and Tampa Bay, which doubled as an Open Cup quarterfinal. The 1-0 Rapids win, counted for both competitions, is the bane of MLS statisticians everywhere.

With only 36 goals to go, it’s highly likely that the milestone will occur by July 9 at the latest. Also notable is D.C. United, sitting on 996 and only four away from becoming the first team to 1,000.

All-Time Breakdown of Goals in MLS Competitions

Competition

Goals Years Leader
MLS regular season 8,358 1996-2011 Jamie Moreno - 133
Lamar Hunt US Open Cup 612 1996-2011 Jaime Moreno - 13
MLS Cup Playoffs 531 1996-2010 Landon Donovan - 17
CONCACAF Champions League/Cup 225 1997-2011 Luciano Emilio - 9
US Open Cup qualifying 98 2007-2011 John Wolyniec - 5
SuperLiga 81 2007-2010 Landon Donovan - 4
Nutrilite Canadian Championship 23 2008 - 2011 Dwayne De Rosario - 4
CONMEBOL Copa Merconorte 12 2001 Roy Lassiter - 3
CONCACAF Champions Cup qualifying 8 1197-1999 8 players tied - 1
CONCACAF Giants Cup 8 1997-1999 3 players ties - 2
CONMEBOL Copa Sudamericana 5 2005-2007 4 players tied -1
CONCACAF Cup Winners' Cup 2 2005-2007 Dante Washington - 2
Copa Interamericana 2 1998 2 playerd tied - 1
Total 9,964   Jaime Moreno - 164

2. Home games in the US Open Cup

With Tuesday night’s US Open Cup action in the books, the tournament will now break for two weeks until the quarterfinals on July 12. Seven of the eight MLS teams in action advanced, the best showing since 2006. Granted, with seven of the eight games at home, it pretty much went as expected. But with a short turnaround and teams using the opportunity to blood their younger talent, it’s never a sure thing.

Team Home Away Difference
D.C. United 9 4 +5
New York 7 3 +4
Seattle 5 1 +4
LA Galaxy 10 7 +3
Kansas City 5 4 +1
San Jose 3 2 +1
Real Salt Lake 1 0 +1
Chicago 9 9 0
Columbus 7 7 0
Houston 2 2 0
Tampa Bay 1 2 -1
New England 3 5 -2
Dallas 5 8 -3
Chivas USA 0 3 -3
Miami 0 4 -4
Colorado 1 7 -6

Now it comes down to the last few rounds where MLS vs. MLS matchups are frequent, and home-field advantage becomes an even hotter topic among fans. Every year, there’s plenty of talk about certain teams who are always seemingly home or away, and the USSF’s secret bidding process to determine hosts only fuels that fire. Without an FA Cup-style random draw, the selection of home teams is always a hot-button topic.

It’s worth discussing, as it turns out that home-field advantage is even more valuable in Open Cup play than in the regular season. In MLS, only matchups throughout the tournament’s history, home teams are a stellar 43-22-3. So basically, it’s about a 66 percent chance for the home team to advance. The home-field advantage turns out to be 0.93 points per game; by comparison, the all-time regular-season number is 0.69 PPG.

This doesn’t include qualifiers, or some of the disparities would look even greater, especially those of D.C. United (+12) and Colorado (-11).

Though they did win the 2009 final away, as well as twice advancing over the old second-division Timbers in Portland, the Seattle Sounders have enjoyed plenty of home cooking en route to the last two titles. They’ll once again be hosting this year in the next round as they take on the Galaxy. If this kind of aggressive bidding can lead to trophies, then why not do it?

3. Gold Cup fallout: Mexico’s the best, while Donovan wins personal glory

With a perfect record of six wins in as many matches and a +18 goal differential, the 2011 Mexico team will go down as the best in Gold Cup history. Only three other teams have won all their games: 1996 Mexico (4-0-0, +10 GD), 1998 Mexico (4-0-0, +6) and 2007 USA (6-0-0, +9).

Despite the disappointment of the last two editions, the United States remain on top of the all-time table with a record of 42-7-6 compared to Mexico’s 38-6-7. They’re ahead on both points (132 vs. 121) and PPG (2.40 vs. 2.37), though Mexico have a much higher goal difference (+62 vs. +97).

Both teams reaching the final was expected, and with good reason. In the three Gold Cups since the end of guest teams, it’s now been three straight USA-Mexico finals. Only once in the tournament’s history has another CONCACAF team eliminated Mexico or the US; that would be Canada’s 2-1 extra-time win over the Mexicans in 2000. Previously, Mexico have been ousted by Colombia and South Korea, while the US have twice been brought down by Brazil and also by Colombia.

Landon Donovan’s goal in the final, meanwhile, meant that he is now the all-time leader in Gold Cup goals with 13, surpassing former Mexico international Luis Roberto "Zague" Alves. That’s in addition to being the leader for the US national team, the LA Galaxy and the MLS playoffs. What’s next?