MLS's statistical leaders of the decade | Greg Seltzer

With another decade of Major League Soccer action all wrapped up, we've taken out the ol' abacus to count up the leaders in various statistical categories.

What follows are top five rankings (including ties) of the most fruitful players, coaches and clubs across 22 wide-ranging classifications. Some of the categories cover the standard stats fans peruse on a regular basis, while others detail more specialized numbers you may not have thought much about.

Unless otherwise specified, all counts cover both regular-season and playoff MLS games played between 2010 and this past season.

Games Played

With 10 full seasons of at least 26 matches and five deep postseason runs on his ledger, Jeff Larentowicz takes the cake as the busiest MLS player of the decade. Chris Wondolowski played in just one less regular-season game than the Atlanta United veteran, but was only party to six playoff tilts.

  • Jeff Larentowicz: 325
  • Dax McCarty: 313
  • Chris Wondolowski: 312
  • Ozzie Alonso: 301
  • Kyle Beckerman: 290
  • Jordan Harvey: 290
  • Darlington Nagbe: 290

Goals

The lack of postseason action certainly didn't hurt Wondo in the '10-'19 Golden Boot race, as he rang the bell at least 10 times in every season of the decade. Obviously, Josef Martinez and Robbie Keane would have given him a serious run for the money had they been around for longer than three and five seasons, respectively.

  • Chris Wondolowski: 153
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips: 117
  • Kei Kamara: 116
  • Robbie Keane: 92
  • Dom Dwyer: 82
  • Josef Martinez: 82
  • Diego Valeri: 82

Goals per 90 Minutes

Who put up the best scoring rate of the decade? With all due respect to FC Dallas youngster Francis Atuahene (who needed just 26 minutes of pitch time this past season to open his MLS account), we set a qualification bar of 25 goals scored to ensure that the ranking was limited to genuine regulars with a decent amount of time served.

As expected, it was a close two-horse race between Martinez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, Keane and Wright-Phillips were the only other players meeting the minimum requirement to top the 0.60 mark, but Didier Drogba (0.68 goals per 90) might have breached the top five given another handful of MLS games.

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic: .97
  • Josef Martinez: .96
  • Carlos Vela: .85
  • Raul Ruidiaz: .71
  • David Villa: .70

Playoff Goals

Through no fault of his own, Wright-Phillips is the only guy in this top five that couldn't cash his postseason goals in for an MLS Cup triumph. The other four players here combined to celebrate eight league crowns.

  • Robbie Keane: 9
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips: 9
  • Jozy Altidore: 8
  • Will Bruin: 8
  • Landon Donovan: 8

Game-Winning Goals

Just like in the total goals category, Wondo runs away with it and BWP comes in second. The other three players also appear in both top fives, while Bruin fell one winner short of his second surprise appearance in a row.

  • Chris Wondolowski: 44
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips: 33
  • Kei Kamara: 31
  • Robbie Keane: 27
  • Diego Valeri: 25

Assists

It should come as no shock that Valeri is the only man to make the decade top five in both goals and assists. Meanwhile, Sacha Kljestan and Lee Nguyen each missed the cut by two helpers.

  • Diego Valeri: 88
  • Graham Zusi: 70
  • Landon Donovan: 68
  • Federico Higuain: 68
  • Javier Morales: 67

Shutout Participations

Defenders usually get left out when these sort of stat count features get rolled out, but not this time. This category ranks the defenders who played a role in the most clean sheets posted by their team(s). An extra shoutout goes to Omar Gonzalez, who had a hand in 68 shutouts despite being absent for over 40% of the decade due to a lengthy sojourn in Liga MX, a serious knee injury layoff and his World Cup 2014 odyssey.

  • Matt Besler: 92
  • Steve Beitashour: 88
  • Chad Marshall: 81
  • Jordan Harvey: 80
  • Seth Sinovic: 80

Clean Sheets

We now turn to the goalkeepers, but stick with the goose-egg theme. Get ready to see these five names repeated in the two goalkeeping categories that follow.

  • Nick Rimando: 99
  • Luis Robles: 80
  • Stefan Frei: 80
  • Bill Hamid: 68
  • Sean Johnson: 61

Penalty-Kick Saves

This ranking counts not only spot kick stops made while the clock was ticking, but also those pulled off in playoff shootouts. Rimando is again tops here, while Zack Steffen cracks the top five thanks in large part to his playoff exploits.

  • Nick Rimando: 17
  • Tim Melia: 13
  • Luis Robles: 10
  • Zack Steffen: 9

Goals Against-Expected Goals Against

It's time to get a little fancy with advanced metrics to see which keepers committed the most larceny. In essence, GA-xGA attempts to identify the number goals denied by weighing saves against the quantity and quality of shots faced.

Full disclosure: American Soccer Analysis only has the xG stat dating back to the 2011 season, so this ranking actually only covers 90% of the decade. However, due to who stands where on the chart and by how much, it seems all but certain that no one would breach this top five if we added the 2010 stats, and fairly unlikely that any of their positions listed below would shift.

  • Bill Hamid: -40.39
  • Nick Rimando: -30.85
  • Luis Robles: -25.50
  • Tim Melia: -21.70
  • Stefan Frei: -21.54

Honor Roll

This one is quite simple. You get a tick for every piece of silverware won and every individual postseason prize collected. That means we're counting MLS Cup, the Supporters' Shield, the U.S. Open Cup, the Canadian Championship and Campeones Cup, as well as MLS Cup MVP, Best XI nods, Golden Boots and all league awards.

Frei, who I will go to my grave swearing was the rightful 2018 Goalkeeper of the Year winner, naturally missed the top five by one piddly honor. Just behind him stood a large, rather esteemed group all tied on seven: Steven Beitashour, Besler, Justin Morrow, Marshall, Ike Opara, Donovan Ricketts, Wondolowski, Wright-Phillips and Valeri.

  • Landon Donovan: 11
  • Sebastian Giovinco: 11
  • Omar Gonzalez: 11
  • Robbie Keane: 11
  • Josef Martinez: 9

Player Of The Month Awards

This may seem an odd count to highlight, but I think it points to players that were repeatedly capable of going on extended rampages. Wondo is king for the third time... but then, he did have seven more seasons than close runner-up Martinez.

In addition to the top three mentioned below, the other players to score as many as two PotM accolades during the decade were: Camilo, Dwayne De Rosario, Donovan, Didier Drogba, Benny Feilhaber, Giovinco, Kevin Hartman, Keane, Mike Magee, Jack McInerney and Rimando. Amazingly, Zlatan never bagged one.

  • Chris Wondolowski: 7
  • Josef Martinez: 6
  • Carlos Vela: 3

Best XI Nods

The Galaxy's early decade mini-dynasty explains how three of their former stars rule this roost. Though Gonzalez is the only defender here, there were seven others who managed a pair of Best XI citations. On the other hand, nine different 'keepers earned the honor, with only Ricketts (another old championship hero in Carson) able to double up.

  • Landon Donovan: 4
  • Omar Gonzalez: 4
  • Robbie Keane: 4
  • Sebastian Giovinco: 3
  • Thierry Henry: 3
  • Josef Martinez: 3
  • Chris Wondolowski: 3
  • Diego Valeri: 3

Head Coach Wins

OK, that's enough with all the player categories. Let's lend the spotlight to the bosses. The five coaches listed effectively ran away from everyone else, with Dom Kinnear (and his 98 victories) the only other guy even close to the century mark.

  • Peter Vermes: 147
  • Bruce Arena: 135
  • Sigi Schmid: 122
  • Ben Olsen: 117
  • Oscar Pareja: 107

Head Coach Points Per Game

Now it's time to level the playing field for everyone that didn't guide teams from one end of the decade to the other. This count only covers regular-season league matches (we'll get to postseason achievement in a moment), and a minimum requirement of 50 games coached is in effect.

None of the sideline titans that made the grade here should come as any shock, but folks might be gently startled to learn that both Chris Armas and Patrick Vieira missed the top five by less than two-hundredths of a point.

  • Bob Bradley: 1.90
  • Tata Martino: 1.82
  • Dome Torrent: 1.74
  • Brian Schmetzer: 1.69
  • Bruce Arena: 1.69

Playoff Rounds Won

Regular-season accomplishments and cup triumphs are swell, but let's get real: Bosses in this league are judged most sternly by how well they can navigate through the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. This magnificent seven won eight of the 10 league crowns up for grabs in the decade to go with six other title match appearances, and the top three coaches on the list accounted for a miserly six of those MLS Cup triumphs and three runners-up finishes.

  • Bruce Arena: 12
  • Brian Schmetzer: 10
  • Gregg Vanney: 9
  • Dominic Kinnear: 7
  • Gregg Berhalter: 5
  • Caleb Porter: 5
  • Peter Vermes: 5

Honor Roll – Coach's Edition

Similar to the players' list above, this one tabulates all major titles won plus MLS Coach of the Year awards. A special citation goes out to Frank de Boer, who picked up two prizes despite only coaching during the 2019 campaign.

  • Bruce Arena: 6
  • Greg Vanney: 6
  • Sigi Schmid: 4
  • Peter Vermes: 4
  • Oscar Pareja: 3

Trophy Hauls

Toronto FC with the hardware haul from their 2017 treble campaign | USA Today Sports Images

Finally, we arrive at the club categories. Since it all comes down to bringing home championships, let's start there. In all, 14 MLS teams raised league and/or cup silver during the decade, and Western outfits ended up with a 22-18 trophy advantage. Aside from the seven clubs listed, only Dallas managed to win multiple titles.

  • Toronto FC: 8
  • Seattle: 6
  • LA Galaxy: 5
  • Sporting KC: 4
  • Atlanta United: 3
  • Montreal: 3
  • Red Bulls: 3

Goals Per Game

Starting with this category, our remaining rankings are regular season-only. A pair of star-studded infant clubs off to offensive flyers stand well above the crowd when it comes to average end product.

  • LAFC: 2.19
  • Atlanta: 1.87
  • NYCFC: 1.68
  • LA Galaxy: 1.61
  • Red Bulls: 1.51

Goals Allowed Per Game

Despite suffering through the worst defensive season in club history in 2019, Sporting KC hold on to claim the title of stingiest team of the decade. Interestingly enough: Sporting boasted only the eighth-best goals-against average at home, but were far and away the hardest road team to score against. Both LAFC and the New York Red Bulls ended up one-hundredth of a goal per game from making the top five.

  • Sporting KC: 1.14
  • Seattle: 1.17
  • Atlanta: 1.20
  • Real Salt Lake: 1.23
  • Dallas: 1.24

Home Points Per Game

Which clubs created the most treacherous fortresses during the decade? Once again, fast-starting franchises LAFC and Atlanta enjoy the benefits of small sample size to claim the top two spots. Aside from the top five, only FC Dallas and Seattle pocketed over two points per game in their friendly confines.

  • LAFC: 2.23
  • Atlanta: 2.20
  • NYCFC: 2.12
  • Red Bulls: 2.11
  • Real Salt Lake: 2.04

Away Points Per Game

The Five Stripes finish second behind LAFC for the third time here. They're also the only club to appear in the top five of all our team lists. In addition to those ranked below, FCD, Real Salt Lake, the Red Bulls and Sporting KC also managed more than a point per road game.

  • LAFC: 1.63
  • Atlanta: 1.37
  • Seattle: 1.26
  • LA Galaxy: 1.21
  • NYCFC: 1.21
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