The playoffs are almost set, but there is plenty still up for grabs at the individual level.
After all, when have strikers not wanted to score goals? And these last two weeks provide the top marksmen a last chance to, um, finish strong.
The Thermometer takes a look at who’s got the inside line the race for the Budweiser Golden Boot.
[inline_node:319600]Wonderful World of Wondo
Straight up: Chris Wondolowski will win the Golden Boot. At least that’s what the stats say. He is the hottest scorer in the league right now. The Earthquakes’ opportunistic hitman has six goals in his last five games, including a playoff-clinching brace against D.C. United on Saturday, giving him a total of 14.
He’s still two behind current leader Edson Buddle, but the Quakes have a game in hand on the LA Galaxy, so Wondo has some wiggle room to pip Buddle for the hardware.
Not that Buddle isn’t scoring. He has three goals in his last five games. But on current form, he’s no Wondo.
Speaking of squeaky-bum time, the fight for the last playoff spot must be causing some serious stress to fans of the Colorado Rapids.
The Kansas City Wizards are six points behind Colorado with two games to play, and they own the head-to-head tiebreaker for the season. Adding to the Rapids’ stress is the last game of the schedule: a Rocky Mountain Cup tie against Real Salt Lake, who have qualified for the postseason at Colorado's expense three years in a row now. (In 2007, in fact, RSL's 1-0 win on the last day actually destroyed the Rapids playoff hopes.)
But KC have their own problems. Team top-scorer Kei Kamara has just one goal in his last five games. Worse, he has hit the target only five times in 19 total shots. That’s the worst ratio of shots on target to total shots of any of the league’s top 10 scorers.
If the Wizards are going to make the playoffs, Kamara will have to be less profligate with his opportunities.
[inline_node:320758]Moreno vs. Cunningham
Jaime Moreno and Jeff Cunningham are tied for first in all-time MLS goal scoring. Moreno, however, is suspended for D.C. United’s upcoming match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. Cunningham’s fate, therefore, appears to be in his own hands when FCD travel to Rio Tinto Stadium.
And if Moreno hopes to keep apace, he’d better hope that RSL maintain the lockdown defense they’ve been playing. RSL have conceded only seven goals at home all season.
Cunningham has three goals in his last five games. That’s impressive. More impressive, though, is that he has done so on just six shots. Four have been on target.
That’s a 50 percent conversion rate for all shots, and a 75 percent conversion rate for shots on goal. Those numbers are tops in MLS for players with at least 10 goals.
In short, if Cunningham gets a look at goal, he’s likely to score.