Marco Di Vaio, Mike Magee or Camilo? Handicapping the MLS Golden Boot race
Heading into the final two games of the MLS season, the race for the Budweiser Golden Boot is just as close as the race for the playoffs.
Is there any way to figure out who’s going to win? Let’s break it down by player.
Di Vaio is struggling as the season winds down. He has scored only one goal in his last five games, which follows a pattern of sorts. In 2011, while with Italian club Bologna, he did not score in his final seven games. In 2012, he did not score a goal in his final nine games. Last year, after arriving in Montreal midseason, he failed to find the net in his final three games of the season. He still leads all qualifiers in shooting accuracy (shots on target divided by shots, not including blocked shots) at 63.75 percent, but over the past five games he has gotten only 40 percent of those shots on target.
There is hope, though. The Impact will face the Philadelphia Union at home and Toronto FC on the road in his final two games. The Union have conceded 1.25 goals per game, but they are much leakier on the road, posting a 1.50 goals against average. TFC, meanwhile, possess a 1.44 GAA this season, and they are only a little tougher at BMO Field (1.38 GAA).
Magee’s Fire finish up at home to Toronto and away to the New York Red Bulls. He'll probably have a better chance to pad his total on Saturday, as TFC's goals-against average on the road is 1.50. The trip to the Big Apple could present a problem, as the Red Bulls are conceding less than a goal a game (0.88) at Red Bull Arena.
More importantly, Magee’s recent form shows a player peaking at the right time. He has scored four goals in his last five games (though one happened to be a deflection). His shooting and his accuracy have skyrocketed in the last month. Over the course of his first 25 games this season, Magee shot 2.56 times per game (excluding blocks), but his average is up to three per game in his last five games. In that same span, his shooting accuracy jumped from 56.25 percent to 80 percent. Think about that: He’s hitting the target on four out of five shots.
Camilo, on the other hand, faces the biggest uphill battle. Not only does he trail the other two by a goal, but the Whitecaps also face the Colorado Rapids in both of their final two games. Colorado are conceding only 1.03 goals per game, tied for the second-best defense in MLS. They have become even stingier recently, conceding 0.80 goals per game over their last five games.
Like Magee, Camilo has scored four goals in his last five games. This is, arguably, because he has increased his shot conversion rate: the percentage of his shots (excluding blocked shots) that are going in has gone from 20.29 percent to 30.77 percent. Of course, it's easy to up your conversion rate when you hit shots like that flying volley two weeks ago (above).
Do any of these stats foretell anything? That remains to be seen. But one has believe that Magee’s form and his two opponents should see the Chicago ace become the Fire’s first-ever Golden Boot winner.
Postscript: It's probably worth noting that LA Galaxy's Robbie Keane is four goals behind Di Vaio and Magee. Although highly unlikely that he could make up that difference in two games, it's always dangerous to count the Irish sniper out.