Castrol Index: 2012 Top Player exemplifies year of striker

Keane - Castrol Index

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In case you were still wondering, 2012 really was the year of the striker in MLS. Especially according to the Castrol Index.

The final numbers are in for the season that was, and you probably know some of them: Chris Wondolowski had a ridiculous 27 goals. Eddie Johnson returned to the US national team on the strength of his 14 goals with Seattle. Theirry Henry had 15 goals and 12 assists, while “Bash Brothers” Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon combined for 23 total goals as a two-headed sidekick to Wondolowski in San Jose.

But here’s how dominant strikers were this season by Castrol’s metrics: Each of the top 11 performers in the league is a forward. The only even partial outlier is Sporting KC’s Kei Kamara, who plays as a winger in Peter Vermes’ 4-3-3, but he’s as likely to turn up in the box as he is on the flank. (See how players collect points in the Castrol methodology here.)

Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning breaks the streak, coming in at No. 12, but there are four more out-and-out forwards in the top 20, and three guys (Landon Donovan, Chris Pontius and Sanna Nyassi) who split time between the wing and up front.

As a matter of fact you have to go all the way down to No. 25 before you find the first field player who’s not an attacker of some sort, Sporting KC’s central defender Matt Besler. Central midfielders fare even worse, with only Seattle’s perennial Best XI performer Osvaldo Alonso cracking the top 50.

But perhaps the biggest surprise is who’s No. 1 overall. Wondolowski tied Roy Lassiter’s single-season mark of 27 goals, he overperformed his expectations via advanced analytics more than anyone else in the league, and he tossed in seven assists to boot.

Yet he’s only No. 2 in this ranking. According to Castrol, it’s LA Galaxy Designated Player Robbie Keane who was the top player in MLS this year, racking up 16 goals and nine assists in 2,520 minutes for a Castrol score of 854 points per 90, just edging out Wondolowski on 836 per 90.

A little more controversy to pile on top of the already-feisty Western Conference Semifinals between San Jose and LA?

Maybe. And certainly something to argue about in the comments section below.

Castrol Index 2012 Top 25 performers

Rank Player Team  Minutes Score
1 Robbie Keane LA Galaxy 2,520 854
2 Chris Wondolowski San Jose Earthquakes 2,813 836
3 Álvaro Saborío Real Salt Lake 2,389 811
4 Thierry Henry New York Red Bulls 2,107 796
5 Steven Lenhart San Jose Earthquakes 1,622 765
6 Saer Sene New England Revolution 1,930 762
7 Fredy Montero Seattle Sounders 2,577 728
8 Kei Kamara Sporting KC 2,869 724
9 Kenny Cooper New York Red Bulls 2,507 720
10 Blas Pérez FC Dallas 1,704 718
11 Alan Gordon San Jose Earthquakes 1,299 712
12 Michael Gspurning Seattle Sounders 1,845 695
13 Jack McInerney Philadelphia Union 1,627 694
14 Eddie Johnson Seattle Sounders 2,120 686
15 Kris Boyd Portland Timbers 1,891 675
16 Troy Perkins Montreal Impact 2,766 668
17 Chris Pontius D.C. United 2,336 661
18 Sanna Nyassi Montreal Impact 1,720 661
19 Landon Donovan LA Galaxy 2,256 660
20 C.J. Sapong Sporting KC 2,208 658
21 Jaime Castrillón Colorado Rapids 2,413 647
22 Jimmy Nielsen Sporting KC 3,060 646
23 Simon Dawkins San Jose Earthquakes 1,847 645
24 Bill Hamid D.C. United 2,087 645
25 Matt Besler Sporting KC 2,769 640