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Commentary: The "300-50-50 Club" gives us a new benchmark for elite MLS attackers

BRad Davis

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Portland Timbers' Jack Jewsbury hit a milestone: He played his 300th regular-season game in MLS.

That's impressive. Incredibly impressive. Jewsbury is the 26th player to hit the milestone – out of the 2021 who have ever made an MLS appearance.

So, first: Congrats, Jack.

Second, it got me thinking about which statistical benchmarks could be short-hand indicators of how successful a player is – or was – in MLS.

Think about baseball's various benchmarks: 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, 300 wins. Or 20,000 points in basketball. Or 10,000 rushing yards in American football.

These stats don't tell the whole story of a player's career, of course. Subjective assessment, anecdotal evidence and plain old personal taste will always have a role in a player's legacy. Plus, as purists will tell you, soccer statistics are less cut and dry.

But be that as it may, there's no harm, as I see it, in having a good, easy-to-grasp, short-hand way to assess the career of this player or that player. And here's what I came up with. 

300 games, 50 goals, 50 assists
(regular season)

NOTE: Obviously, this only applies to attacking players. I started with them because attacking stats are more digestable. We'll have to come up with some other benchmarks for defensive players. 

These three stats seem like a good baseline. They encapsulate a player's staying power and his overall offensive impact, downplaying flashes in the pan, goal poachers, and pass-first playmakers in favor of durable, well-rounded attacking players. 

In the history of MLS, only nine players are in the 300-50-50 club.

Player (alphabetical order)  Games Goals Assists
Jeff Cunningham 365 134 70
Brad Davis* 326 51 106
Dwayne De Rosario* 334 103 77
Landon Donovan* 321 138 124
Chris Henderson 317 51 80
Cobi Jones 306 70 91
Jason Kreis 305 108 74
Jaime Moreno 340 133 102
Steve Ralston 378 76 135

* still active

That's who's who of the attacking stars in MLS over the past 19 years. As my colleague Matt Doyle said, "If you had one of these guys on your team, you knew you were getting close to elite production for about a decade."

There are several other players who come close, generally hitting two out of three.

D.C. United's Davy Arnaud is the only player in MLS history who has at least 300 games and 50 goals who doesn't also have 50 or more assists. To date, he has played in 318 games and posted 50 goals and 43 assists. He should join the 300-50-50 club at some point, as he's usually good for three or four assists per year.

Three players have at least 300 games and 50 assists without reaching the 50-goal threshold, including current LA Galaxy president Chris Klein (333, 49, 69), current Real Salt Lake assistant coach Andy WIlliams (332, 30, 86) and Colorado Rapids winger Brian Mullan (323, 29, 58).

Six players – all retired – notched at least 50 goals and 50 assists without playing 300 games: Mark Chung (284, 61, 76), Ante Razov (262, 114, 66), Clint Mathis (258, 61, 52), Preki (242, 79, 112),  Ronald Cerritos (221, 71, 57) and Brian McBride (220, 80, 52).

And former Columbus and New York midfielder Eddie Gaven (278, 51, 37, pictured at right), longtime forward Alejandro Moreno (272, 52, 37), and current Crew assistant coach Josh Wolff (267, 80, 49) probably would've joined the club if they'd played longer.

Beyond Arnaud and Mullan, several other current players in MLS are approaching 300-50-50.

First up is 29-year-old Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee, who has played in 273 games, producing 64 goals and 32 assists. He'll have to pick up his assist rate, most likely, but considering his playmaking abilities, he should make it.

After him, 33-year-old Colorado Rapids forward Edson Buddle (288, 99, 30) has a chance, but getting enough assists as his career winds down will be an issue. Assists will also be the make-or-break stat for 29-year-old Toronto FC winger Dominic Oduro (239, 48, 25), though his recent shift to the wing might help. And 30-year-old Philadelphia Union attacker Sebastien Le Toux (175, 44, 39) will probably hit the goals and assists marks but could struggle to reach the requisite number of games played.

As I said, it's not an exact science. 

What do you  of 300-50-50 as an indicator of an attacker's career impact? What benchmarks would you use for defenders?