First Wondo, who's next? Five players who could break MLS goals record

Josef Martinez - Atlanta United - 2018 MLS Cup goal celebration

There were many magical moments in the immediate aftermath of Chris Wondolowski breaking MLS's all-time goals record on Saturday.

From the immediate celebration, to another few goals, to the standing ovation when he was subbed out, to Landon Donovan's congratulatory message, to Wondo running over to his fans and all else.

Perhaps the most memorable was his teammates tossing him in the air, like the hero he was on his day, and the pure joy on Wondolowski's face. It's a moment we all dream of, yet so few are able to realistically consider. 

It was poignant, emotional, touching, deserved and appropriate. No one can ever take that feeling, that moment or that smile away from him, his teammates and fans.

Records are meant to be broken, though, and one day someone else will experience their own moment like the one felt in the rain at Avaya Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Which five players in MLS right now are most likely to catch Wondo's record?

5. Bradley Wright-Phillips

Age: 34 | Goals: 107 | Games played: 177 | Games Wondo took to 107 goals: 225

If this ranking came before the season, BWP would have been closer to No. 1. But limited to just six appearances and one goal, Wright-Phillips hasn't looked like the talisman he's long been for the Red Bulls

He turned 34 just before the season started. To get to Wondo's 148 goal mark (which will continue to rise), Wright-Phillips needs another 41 goals. That's three-and-a-half seasons of 12 goals each term. It's not out of the question for the Englishman, still. Not half bad for a player who didn't have a full season in MLS until he turned 29. 

4. Jozy Altidore

Age: 29 | Goals: 65 | Games played: 132 | Games Wondo took to 65 goals: 142

Altidore's age plus injury history keeps him back, but when the Toronto FC forward is in form, the goals come in bunches. Three 20-goal seasons and two 15-goal campaigns would put Jozy ahead of Wondo. Is that too much to assume? Probably.

He has surpassed 1,500 minutes just twice in his MLS career, scoring 15 and 13 goals. Altidore would need to hit a level of availability and consistency not yet seen during his time in MLS. 

The talent and potential, as has always been for Altidore, is almost too tempting to ignore. 

3. Gyasi Zardes

Age: 27 | Goals: 57 | Games played: 177 | Games Wondo took to 57 goals: 134

In 2017, when Zardes was dangerously low on confidence and sporadically tasked with playing right back in his final season with the LA Galaxy, it would have been lunacy to suggest he could be in the conversation to one day score more goals than anyone in MLS history.

Alas, after a tremendous season with Columbus in 2018 and a Designated Player deal in 2019, here we are. It would take Zardes about five seasons of a 15-goal pace each year, when Zardes would be 32. Why not?

A potential issue is that other(s) may get there before him and push a new record out of reach.

2. Kei Kamara

Age: 34 | Goals: 119 | Games played: 326 | Games Wondo took to 119 goals: 255

With seven goals in 12 matches this season, Kamara still has a ton left in the tank. He's scoring goals despite the Colorado Rapids sitting bottom of the league. Just as it's been for more than a decade, wherever Kamara goes, goals follow. 

Kamara's game isn't reliant on pace, but the 34-year-old still can run a bit. Height won't change for the rest of his career, but as ageless NBA wonder Vince Carter said, "It’s not as bad going up, it’s just coming down." As long as Kamara can come down as well as he can still get up over defenders, he's going to score goals.

He would need two 15-goal seasons to catch Wondo now. It doesn't look far out of the realm of possibility. How much separation will Wondo increase before he hangs up his cleats (and spits out his gum)? 

1. Josef Martinez

Age: 26 | Goals: 55 | Games played: 66 | Games Wondo took to 55 goals: 129

Barring injury and assuming he stays at Atlanta United, Josef Martinez is a great bet to one day score more goals in MLS than anyone who came before. But, with the success he's had over three seasons, interest will never subside from abroad.

At the rate Martinez is plunging goals, he'll need about four more seasons to hit Wondo's mark. He turned 26 two days ago. Even if he can't keep up his historic goals rate as he enters his prime, Martinez has a ton of room for error.