Roy Lassiter's 58-point season in 1996 for the Tampa Bay Mutiny, the highest ever total for a Major League Soccer Budweiser Scoring Champion, was selected by fans as the best season for a scoring leader in a poll conducted on MLSnet.com in celebration of the league's 10th season. Thirty-seven percent of voters were in the inaugural season scoring champ's corner, as Lassiter outpaced Taylor Twellman's 2002 season for the New England Revolution (23 goals, six assists, 52 points) by 20 percent.
A native of Raleigh, N.C., Lassiter scored 27 goals and added four assists to reach his mark of 58 points. Neither the number of goals nor the number of total points has ever been broken in the eight seasons since 1996, Mamadou Diallo coming closest to both with 26 goals and 56 points in 2000, also for the Mutiny. Diallo earned nine percent of the votes to take fifth place in the poll.
Lassiter's astounding offensive output led Tampa Bay to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 1996 with a 20-12 record. With service being provided by Colombian great Carlos Valderrama, who finished the 1996 season in second place in assists with 17, Lassiter flourished in Florida for a little more than two seasons before being dealt to D.C. United in 1998, where he continued his scoring prowess. He returned to Florida in 2000 for a one-year stint with the Miami Fusion before closing out his career with two seasons in Kansas City. Lassiter was the all-time leading goal scorer in MLS with 88 goals until Jason Kreis topped that record last season at the Dallas Burn. Kreis now holds the all-time mark with 100 career goals.
Twellman scored 23 goals and added six assists for 52 points to take second place in the poll. He narrowly topped Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz for the scoring title in 2002, though Ruiz would have the last laugh by scoring the golden goal in overtime to defeat Twellman's Revolution 1-0 at Gillette Stadium in MLS Cup 2002 in front of more than 61,000 fans.
Kreis took the bronze-medal spot in the poll by garnering 15 percent of the vote in support of his 1999 season in Dallas, during which he scored 18 goals and added 15 assists in 1999. The only player to score at least 15 goals and add at least 15 assists in a single season, Kreis led the Burn to a second-place finish in the Western Conference that year. However, his efforts weren't enough to win his club an MLS Cup appearance, as the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated them in the Western Conference Finals.
Coming in fourth was Stern John, who scored 57 points on 26 goals and five assists for the Columbus Crew, while Diallo rounded out the top five.
Other Budweiser Scoring Champions that received votes were Preki (12 goals, 17 assists, 41 points in both 1997 and 2003 for the Kansas City Wizards), Amado Guevara (10 goals, 10 assists, 30 points in 2004 for the MetroStars, Pat Noonan (11, 8, 30 in 2004 for the Revolution) and Alex Pineda Chacon (19 goals, 4 assists, 47 points in 2001 for the Miami Fusion).
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.