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From across the pond: Henry on track for another MLS record

A recent match pitting former Mexican internationals against former U.S. internationals ended with a 2-0 American victory.

The old timers contest held at Los Angeles Galaxy’s Home Depot Center was expected to attract a few hundred fans. Instead, it was played out in front of over 12,000 spectators.

Among the legendary names to score was American Roy Lassiter, who although capped 30 times, never appeared in a World Cup final for the USA. However, in addition to playing with Italy’s Genoa and winning a golden boot with Costa Rica’s Alajuelsense, he still holds the distinction of being Major League Soccer’s record single season goal scorer.

That mark of 27 goals for Tampa Bay has stood since the league’s inaugural season in 1996. The comparably young circuit has only had six 20-goal scorers in its history. It seemed in little danger of being broke except the by totals of Stern John’s 26 in 1998 and Mamadou Diallo with the same number in 2000.

This year’s MLS goalscorers are off to a strong start with two players already netting 8 goals and two with seven in as many games.

Henry - a goal per game

Leading the way is New York’s Thierry Henry and San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski. Henry, the only MLS player to have a standing statue (Arsenal), is on course with a goal per game pace that would garner 34 if continued at that rate.

The MLS’s golden boot rate is similar to Italy’s Serie A of the 1980’s which featured true legends Michel Platini, Diego Maradona and Marco Van Basten winning the “cannoniere” golden boot with just 16, 15 and 19 goals respectively.

Those bygone days are passed, would be reflected in just the last few seasons when Antonio DiNatale (Udinese) has struck for 29 and 28 goals and Luca Toni (AS Roma) surpassing 30 goals in 2006. Serie A has not had a 30-goal man since the 1958-59 season.

To drive this point home, the German Bundesliga and the Premier League both have multiple 25 + goal men with Gomez (Bayern) and Huntelaar (Schalke 04), van Persie (Arsenal) and Rooney (Manchester United) atop their leader board.

Former MLS player Clint Dempsey is the American who has come closest with 16 in the English League while Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), another MLS alumni, has 15 for his Dutch side.

Sublime

From this, to the sublime, is Spain's La Liga where the debate of world’s greatest has seen the golden boot race between Cristianio Ronaldo (Real Madrid) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona) each topple over the 40-goal summit.

The MLS, which features a good portion of foreign players, can proudly say that the golden boot has been won by 11 domestic players (10 Americans and 1 Canadian) in its 16 seasons. The latest in this line of American marksmen is California-bred Chris Wondolowski.

The 2010 golden boot winner is somewhat of a late bloomer, bagging 42 of his career 48 MLS goals in the past three seasons.

Last year’s winner was Canadian Dwayne DeRosario (DC United), a midfielder, who was twice transferred during the season only to find the net 16 times for the reward.

If Thierry Henry is living up to his bronze immortalization, then there could be a place for the like of Lassiter, Wondolowski or DeRosario outside one of the stadiums of Major League Soccer.

By Chuck Zsolnai

Chuck Zsolnai is director of International Soccer Archives. He has reported on football for more than 20 years, including coverage of seven World Cups.


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