There are so many different elements that go into success in MLS. Possession in the midfield, shutdown defending, and reliable goalkeeping are all often key factors on winning teams. But for most soccer fans, no other element of the game is more exciting than goal scoring. And that’s part of what makes the Golden Boot such a prestigious award as it celebrates the game’s top goal scorer each year.
Whether it’s a tight race that goes right down to the wire or a runaway victory for MLS’s top goal scorer, there is always excitement around winning the Golden Boot. Gaming content provider Dimers.com takes a look back at the last 10 winners of the MLS Golden Boot.
2022 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Hany Mukhtar, Nashville SC, 23 Goals
Hany Mukhtar became Nashville’s first-ever Designated Player in 2020, and he showed why in 2022. After putting together a solid campaign in 2021 with 16 goals, Mukhtar tallied 23 goals in 33 games for Nashville SC in 2022. He accounted for 44% of the club’s goals during the regular season and helped guide the team into the postseason. Mukhtar successfully held off Daniel Gazdag and Sebastian Driussi, who each scored 21 goals, to win the award.
2021 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Taty Castellanos, New York City FC, 19 Goals
The 2021 Golden Boot came right down to the final day of the regular season. Taty Castellanos headed in an equalizer to help New York City FC draw Philadelphia Union 1-1 on Decision Day. The goal landed Castellanos in a tie with DC United’s Ola Kamara for the regular season scoring lead. The tiebreaker to determine the Golden Boot is assists, which gave Castellanos the nod with eight assists in 2021 to Kamara’s five. The 23-year-old became the first Argentine player to win the award and the first NYCFC player to do so as well.
2020 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Diego Rossi, Los Angeles FC, 14 Goals
The 2020 season was limited to just 23 games due to COVID-19 cancellations. Diego Rossi made the most of it, winning the Golden Boot by scoring 14 goals in just 19 appearances. He became the second straight Los Angeles FC player to win the award after Carlos Vela did so in 2019. Only seven players in MLS managed to score 10 or more goals in this COVID-shortened campaign. Robert Beric, Gyasi Zardes, and Raul Ruidaz finished in a three-way tie for second behind Rossi with 12 goals apiece.
2019 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Carlos Vela, Los Angeles FC, 34 Goals
Just one season after Josef Martinez set an MLS record for goals in a season with 31, Carlos Vela broke the record en route to winning the Golden Boot in 2019. And he did so in style, tying the record in LAFC’s penultimate game of the season before scoring a hat trick in the club’s regular season finale. This was a thrilling race that required Vela to hold off Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 30 goals for the LA Galaxy.
2018 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Josef Martínez, Atlanta United, 31 Goals
Josef Martinez blew away the competition in his 2018 Golden Boot campaign, finishing nine goals ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 22 goals to earn the hardware with an MLS-record 31 goals. Martinez finished among the world’s best in scoring that season, just behind Lionel Messi (34 goals) and Mohammed Salah (32) and ahead of superstars like Robert Lewandoski (29) and Cristiano Ronaldo (26). And to top it all off, Atlanta United went on to win the MLS Cup in 2018.
2017 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Nemanja Nikolić, Chicago Fire, 24 Goals
Nemanja Nikolic and David Villa were locked up in a tight race for the Golden Boot in 2017 that had a handful of lead changes along the way. Nikolic eventually pulled in front for good with a hat trick in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union at the end. Chicago acquired Nikolic from a Polish in December of 2016 and signed him to a Designated Player deal that wound up paying off immediately with this incredible season.
2016 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls, 24 Goals
Bradley Wright-Phillips picked up his second Golden Boot trophy in three seasons with his 24-goal campaign in 2016. And it was once again David Villa falling just shy of the award with 23 goals for New York City FC. The fact that this battle happened between two star players playing for crosstown rivals added some extra intrigue to the Golden Boot race this season. Wright-Phillips became the first player in MLS history to record two regular seasons with 20 or more goals with this performance.
2015 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC, 22 Goals
Sebastian Giovinco and Kei Kamara both finished with the regular season with 22 goals in 2015, but Giovinco earned the tiebreaker and the MLS Golden Boot due to having more assists than Kamara. Kamara finished 2015 with a respectable total of eight assists, but in addition to sharing the scoring lead with 22 goals, Giovinco also led MLS in assists in 2015 with 16 helpers. His combined 22 goals and 16 assists set an MLS record for a single season.
2014 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls, 27 Goals
Bradley Wright-Phillips became the third player in MLS history to finish a season with 27 goals in 2014, moving into a tie with Roy Lassiter and Chris Wondolowski for the all-time single-season record before it was eventually broken by Josef Martinez in 2018. Wright-Phillips won the 2014 Golden Boot comfortably with a five-goal lead over Dom Dwyer.
2013 MLS Golden Boot Winner: Camilo Sanvezzo, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 22 Goals
Camilo Sanvezzo knew that the Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t have much to play for in his final game of the 2013 regular season as the club had already been eliminated from playoff contention. But he made the game count anyway, picking up a hat trick in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids to earn himself the Golden Boot. Mike Magee was edged out by one goal in the process, finishing his 2013 regular season with 21 goals.