The 2021 MLS season is set to begin April 16 with 27 teams divided into both the Eastern Conference (14 teams) and the Western Conference (13 teams). And while there are candidates to win the MLS Cup Playoffs on both conferences, arguably one of the most entertaining races will be which player will win the Golden Boot title.
Here at BetQL we present you three popular picks to end the 2021 MLS season as the league’s leading scorer.
The safe pick: Carlos Vela - Los Angeles FC
Honestly, either Carlos Vela or Diego Rossi could fit here. Vela was the league’s top scorer during the 2019 campaign with 34 goals, the highest scoring tally for a player in MLS history, and Rossi did it during the shortened season last year with 14 strikes. The main reason to choose Vela over Rossi is that the latter is quite likely to leave LAFC midway through the season, as European teams are already inquiring about his services and the California-based franchise won’t be able to keep him in Los Angeles for a prolonged period of time. Either way, Vela seems like a safe pick to end as the league’s top scorer once again. LAFC should be a contender in the Western and they have one of the strongest attacking lines in the league. If Vela avoids the injury bug that plagued him in 2020, then he’s a strong bet to finish the season as the top scorer. After all, he has averaged 0.77 goals per game throughout his MLS career.
The popular pick: Josef Martinez - Atlanta United
Josef Martinez suffered a devastating injury during the beginning of the 2020 MLS season and didn’t return for the second half of the campaign -- Atlanta United missed him dearly and couldn’t find a reliable replacement for the striker role. That’s all in the past now, though, and the Venezuela international should be ready to inflict havoc on opposing defences once again. That can only mean one thing, and one thing only -- don’t be surprised if Martinez ends up winning the Golden Boot Award for the second time in the last four years. He was the league’s top scorer in 2018 when he bagged 31 goals, and if he’s healthy in 2021, then he should start scoring goals for fun. He’s simply too fast, too skilled and too strong for opposing MLS defenders to slow him down on a regular basis. Martinez also enters this season with an excellent per-game goal average, as he has netted 0.86 goals per game during his MLS career with Atlanta United -- 90 goals across 104 appearances.
The sleeper pick: Kacper Przybyłko - Philadelphia Union
Philadelphia Union were one of the best teams in MLS last season and even though they couldn’t reach the latter stages of the postseason, they showed some interesting things -- particularly in the final third with names such as Jamiro Monteiro, Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybyłko. The 28-year-old German striker has played 54 matches for Philadelphia throughout his career and has posted good numbers to date, recording 24 goals with 10 assists. Yes, he doesn’t have the same goals-per-average (0.44) as players such as Vela, Martinez or even Rossi, but he should get plenty of chances as the leading attacking threat in one of the best teams in the league. There are other intriguing alternatives that could be chosen as sleepers -- such as Raul Ruidiaz or even Alejandro Pozuelo -- but Przybyłko is an interesting alternative that could pay off if the Union managed to play as well as they did during the 2020 MLS season.