In case you were still wondering, 2012 really was the year of the striker in MLS. Especially according to the Castrol Index.
The final numbers are in for the season that was, and you probably know some of them: Chris Wondolowski had a ridiculous 27 goals. Eddie Johnson returned to the US national team on the strength of his 14 goals with Seattle. Theirry Henry had 15 goals and 12 assists, while “Bash Brothers” Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon combined for 23 total goals as a two-headed sidekick to Wondolowski in San Jose.
But here’s how dominant strikers were this season by Castrol’s metrics: Each of the top 11 performers in the league is a forward. The only even partial outlier is Sporting KC’s Kei Kamara, who plays as a winger in Peter Vermes’ 4-3-3, but he’s as likely to turn up in the box as he is on the flank. (See how players collect points in the Castrol methodology here.)
Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning breaks the streak, coming in at No. 12, but there are four more out-and-out forwards in the top 20, and three guys (Landon Donovan, Chris Pontius and Sanna Nyassi) who split time between the wing and up front.
As a matter of fact you have to go all the way down to No. 25 before you find the first field player who’s not an attacker of some sort, Sporting KC’s central defender Matt Besler. Central midfielders fare even worse, with only Seattle’s perennial Best XI performer Osvaldo Alonso cracking the top 50.
But perhaps the biggest surprise is who’s No. 1 overall. Wondolowski tied Roy Lassiter’s single-season mark of 27 goals, he overperformed his expectations via advanced analytics more than anyone else in the league, and he tossed in seven assists to boot.
Yet he’s only No. 2 in this ranking. According to Castrol, it’s LA Galaxy Designated Player Robbie Keane who was the top player in MLS this year, racking up 16 goals and nine assists in 2,520 minutes for a Castrol score of 854 points per 90, just edging out Wondolowski on 836 per 90.
A little more controversy to pile on top of the already-feisty Western Conference Semifinals between San Jose and LA?
Maybe. And certainly something to argue about in the comments section below.
Castrol Index 2012 Top 25 performers
|1||Robbie Keane||LA Galaxy||2,520||854|
|2||Chris Wondolowski||San Jose Earthquakes||2,813||836|
|3||Álvaro Saborío||Real Salt Lake||2,389||811|
|4||Thierry Henry||New York Red Bulls||2,107||796|
|5||Steven Lenhart||San Jose Earthquakes||1,622||765|
|6||Saer Sene||New England Revolution||1,930||762|
|7||Fredy Montero||Seattle Sounders||2,577||728|
|8||Kei Kamara||Sporting KC||2,869||724|
|9||Kenny Cooper||New York Red Bulls||2,507||720|
|10||Blas Pérez||FC Dallas||1,704||718|
|11||Alan Gordon||San Jose Earthquakes||1,299||712|
|12||Michael Gspurning||Seattle Sounders||1,845||695|
|13||Jack McInerney||Philadelphia Union||1,627||694|
|14||Eddie Johnson||Seattle Sounders||2,120||686|
|15||Kris Boyd||Portland Timbers||1,891||675|
|16||Troy Perkins||Montreal Impact||2,766||668|
|17||Chris Pontius||D.C. United||2,336||661|
|18||Sanna Nyassi||Montreal Impact||1,720||661|
|19||Landon Donovan||LA Galaxy||2,256||660|
|20||C.J. Sapong||Sporting KC||2,208||658|
|21||Jaime Castrillón||Colorado Rapids||2,413||647|
|22||Jimmy Nielsen||Sporting KC||3,060||646|
|23||Simon Dawkins||San Jose Earthquakes||1,847||645|
|24||Bill Hamid||D.C. United||2,087||645|
|25||Matt Besler||Sporting KC||2,769||640|