Split image: David Villa (New York City FC) and Nikolic Nemanja (Chicago Fire)

2017 is shaping up to be the year of the goalscorer.


The current MLS campaign is featuring some of the best individual scoring seasons in league history. Reigning MVP and New York City FC forward David Villa and Chicago Fire newcomer Nemanja Nikolic are currently battling at the top of the Golden Boot table, with Villa in the lead with 17 goals and Nikolic one behind with 16 strikes. Both players have an outside shot at the MLS single-season record of 27 goals, currently jointly held by Bradley Wright-Phillips (2014), Chris Wondolowski (2012) and Roy Lassiter (1996).

Race to 28? NYCFC's David Villa, Chicago's Nemanja Nikolic chasing history - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Raceto28-v2_0.jpeg

As seen in the above chart, both Villa and Nikolic are on pace to score about 25 goals this year. That’d leave them a bit short of the all-time record, but would put them in some excellent historical company.


Villa is already in second in MLS history with 0.68 goals per game among players who have scored at least 20 goals. If he breaks the record and gets to 28 goals, that number would move up to 0.72 goals per game. His GPG average would get to 0.71 if he ties the all-time mark and would move to 0.69 GPG if he hits 25 goals this season. Those calculations assume Villa plays all 11 of NYCFC’s remaining regular season games.


Those are wildly impressive numbers, but Nikolic could overtake them. If the Hungarian international plays the rest of Chicago’s games and hits 25 goals, he’d average 0.74 goals per game. He’d hit 0.79 goals per game if he ties the record. If he hits 28 goals and breaks the record, Nikolic would have a goals per game average of 0.82. That number would place him first on the all-time MLS list, putting him narrowly ahead of Stern John, who averaged 0.8 goals per game in 55 matches with Columbus.


(All stats below come from the MLS Communications Department.)

GOALS PER GAME, ALL-TIME IN MLS
PLAYERGPGOALSAVG
Stern John55440.8
David Villa85580.68
Robbie Keane125830.66
Didier Drogba33210.64
Bradley Wright-Phillips129820.64
Mamadou Diallo74470.64
Sebastian Giovinco79500.63
Taylor Twellman1741010.58
Obafemi Martins72400.56
Ola Kamara49270.55
·         Minimum: 20 goals


Of course, Villa and Nikolic aren’t the only front men having strong seasons. Wright-Phillips is up to his usual tricks with the Red Bulls, Sebastian Giovinco is enjoying another solid year in Toronto and Ola Kamara is thriving again for Crew SC. Those three players are joined by Villa in the top 10 in MLS history in goals per 90 minutes.


GOALS PER 90 MINUTES, ALL-TIME IN MLS
PLAYERMINGOALSAVG
Stern John4463440.89
Didier Drogba2520210.75
Mamadou Diallo5846470.72
David Villa7268580.72
Bradley Wright-Phillips10377820.71
Robbie Keane10808830.69
Sebastian Giovinco6665500.68
Musa Shannon2830200.64
Ola Kamara3852270.63
Obafemi Martins5871400.61
Minimum: 20 goals


Meanwhile, Wright-Phillips and Wondolowski already in the top 10 in league history in career multi-goal games, while Villa (14) and Giovinco (13) are both knocking on the door. 


MOST GAMES, 2 GOALS OR MORE, ALL-TIME IN MLS
PLAYERGPGAMES
Landon Donovan34032
Jeff Cunningham36522
Ante Razov26222
Robbie Keane12520
Chris Wondolowski28218
Bradley Wright-Phillips12918
Jaime Moreno34017
Carlos Ruiz18317
Edson Buddle30416
Taylor Twellman17416