When Taylor Twellman scored on Saturday night in the New England Revolution's 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire, he didn't only capture three points for his club in their last game of the regular season, but he also secured another prize: the Budweiser Golden Boot, awarded to the league's top scorer.
The St. Louis native's 18-yard blast past Zach Thornton was his 17th goal of the year, edging D.C. United's Jaime Moreno, who registered his 16th of the season in United's draw with the Columbus Crew on Saturday. It is the second scoring championship for Twellman, who becomes just the second player to win the award more than once, having also taken the prize in his first MLS season in 2002, when it also included assists.
"It means a lot," Twellman said of capturing the Golden Boot. "The last year and a half has been pretty difficult, including this year. At the end of the day, if we don't win the championship it (doesn't mean much) to me."
The Revolution have put themselves in a great position to claim their first MLS Cup, thanks in no small part to Twellman's consistent contributions. New England finished atop the Eastern Conference with 59 points from a 17-7-8 record. On several occasions this season Twellman struck late to win or tie games for the Revolution, including in the season opener, which could be a prelude to the season closer, should the Revs and the Western Conference's best team, the San Jose Earthquakes, both make it to Frisco, Texas on Nov. 13.
Twellman helped the Revs get their season off to a positive start when he notched his first of the season on April 2 to give his side a 2-2 draw with the Quakes. He won the first of two Sierra Mist Goal of the Week awards for his opening day efforts. The U.S. national team member went on to score six game-winning goals, while also providing two game-winning assists and several game-tying strikes. Of Twellman's 17 goals, none came from the penalty spot. Nine of Moreno's 16 strikes were penalty kicks.
Of his 17 goals, six came in the 89th minute or later, including two game-winners that came in stoppage-time, in the 92nd minute of a 3-2 win against FC Dallas on July 16 and a 94th-minute goal that gave the Revolution a 2-1 win against D.C. United on Aug. 27. Twellman also had two hat tricks, in the aforementioned win against FC Dallas, and when he scored all the Revolution goals in a 3-1 win against the Columbus Crew on Sept. 10.
"He scores goals and every team likes to have a guy on their team that can score," said Revolution head coach Steve Nicol. "We think that we have more (people) than Taylor who can put the ball in the net. But, obviously, Taylor is all about putting the ball in the net. That's what he wakes up in the morning dreaming about and goes to sleep dreaming about. We are glad he's playing for us and not for anybody else."
Scoring goals is exactly what Twellman has done since entering the league three seasons ago. Last year was the first that he failed to reach double digits in goals, but he rebounded this season with his highest output since his last scoring title. In 98 career games, the 25-year-old has found the net an amazing 64 times. Only two other players in MLS history have scored more goals over a four-year span, both from the first four years in league history, Roy Lassiter (73) and Raul Diaz Arce (69).
But while scoring titles have come on two occasions, the powerful striker has yet to experience the joys of Major League Soccer's ultimate prize, an MLS Cup championship. He came closest in his first season in New England when his side fell at home to the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of over 60,000 fans.
Twellman seemed to be hot all season, but at no time was he more in form than over the last several weeks. He scored in four consecutive games between Aug. 27 and Sept. 21. He also registered a goal or an assist in eight games in a row between Aug. 6 and Sept. 24, the longest such streak of any player in the league this season.
Twellman will be hoping his run continues next Saturday as his side opens the MLS Cup Playoffs with a trip to Giants Stadium to take on the MetroStars in the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Series at 7 p.m. ET. The Revs will host the second leg on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. ET. Should New England get past the Metros, they would then host the Conference Championship against either D.C. United or the Chicago Fire.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.