- Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez favored to win his first MLS Golden Boot in 2022
- Atlanta’s Josef Martinez and Los Angeles striker Cristian Arango also strong contenders
- Read on for a look at all the odds for the MLS Golden Boot, a look at some contenders and a best bet
With 19 goals in 32 games, Valentin ‘Taty’ Castellanos clinched the 2021 MLS Golden Boot on a tie-breaker, beating DC United’s Ola Kamara 8-4 on assists. However, the New York City striker’s 0.62 goals per game was the lowest Golden Boot-winning goals-per-game average in 11 seasons.
Were it not for other players suffering injuries or coming into MLS in midseason, there is a good chance that Cristian Arango, Javier Hernandez, or Raul Ruidiaz – who all averaged more than 0.59 GPG – could have ended up with the trophy instead.
It’s never easy betting futures in soccer, but with the Golden Boot curse now hanging over Castellanos – no Golden Boot winner has ever repeated in MLS history – there are a bevvy of other pretenders ready to sit on his throne when the MLS season kicks off this weekend.
2022 MLS Golden Boot Odds
|Player||2021 MLS Goals||Odds|
Odds as of February 25th at DraftKings
Castellanos No Sure Thing
Even disregarding the fact that no player has repeated as the Golden Boot winner in MLS history, there is likely a bigger reason to steer clear of Castellanos and his +800 odds. The fact is, there is a good chance he won’t even be in MLS come season’s end.
ESPN colleague @Bocatto_Daniel reporting that #NYCFC has turned down another offer from River Plate for Taty Castellanos, this for $11.5m for 50% of the player's pass. The Blues wanted $13.5m for 50%. He reports that River won't go any higher. https://t.co/YsMpeAZkjo
— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) February 16, 2022
The Argentinian striker has attracted a lot of attention for his goals, particularly the pivotal ones he scored in leading New York City to its first MLS Cup last fall. The math is simple – if he leaves when the summer transfer window opens, he won’t be taking home another Golden Boot this fall. An New York’s MLS Cup odds could greatly be affected.
Taty Castellanos with the 1st official goal by an MLS club in 2022
Picking up right where he left off pic.twitter.com/diYF3sfJUi
— MLS Buzz (@MLS_Buzz) February 16, 2022
Martinez a Maybe Man
There may have been no repeat winners in MLS history, but there have been plenty of examples of players winning the Golden Boot on multiple occasions. After missing all but one game of the 2020 season with an ACL tear, 2021 was very much a season of rehabilitation for the Venezuelan talisman, and he still managed 12 goals in 24 appearances.
Josef Martinez scoring his first goal for Atlanta United since returning from injury and then celebrating with the medical personnel gotta love it pic.twitter.com/zehaeRKDzs
— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray) May 9, 2021
After winning the Golden Boot in 2018 with a then-record 31 goals, and following that up with 27 in 2019, Martinez has a nose for the net, and with another off-season of strengthening his knee, should be ready to return to his high-scoring ways in 2022.
Arango’s Time to Shine
For the first three seasons of LAFC’s existence, Carlos Vela was very much the main man, picking up Golden Boots and MVP trophies. But midway through 2021, along came Cristian Arango, and the Colombian wasted little time imposing his will on both his new team and opposing defenders.
🎩 CHICHO HAT TRICK 🎩
Cristian Arango nets the hat trick for his 11th goal in 13 matches. pic.twitter.com/vgJa4zNPzc
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 21, 2021
The former Millonarios striker scored 14 times in 17 appearances for his new team, and his 0.90 goals-per-90 rating was second in the league behind Kamara. Arango also garnered MLS Newcomer of the Year recognition for his efforts.
This season, MLS welcomed nearly 250 new players, hailing from 53 countries and averaging 22.8 years of age. @LAFC’s Cristian Arango's talent and determination led to a remarkable 14 goals in 17 matches. Congratulations, @Chichoarango on being named 2021 MLS Newcomer of the Year pic.twitter.com/wxLxh5Z9qL
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) November 22, 2021
It remains to be seen what he can do for an encore in 2022, but with Vela healthy alongside him, and a better idea of the MLS style of play, as well as extra knowledge of the defenders he’s facing, getting into the conversation for the Golden Boot should be comfortably on his radar.
Ruidiaz Revving Up
Barring a late-season injury, the Seattle Sounders hitman could well have ended up with the Golden Boot last year, after averaging 0.71 goals per 90. The Peruvian striker ended up three goals short of taking home the title, but after scoring 50 goals in 79 appearances across four MLS seasons, he is as consistent as they come.
RAUL RUIDIAZ. WOW 🔥
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 23, 2021
The addition of playmaker Albert Rusnak should help increase the number of chances that fall Ruidiaz’s way, and that’s on top of a plethora of attacking options for a Seattle team that is always in the championship conversation.
Chicharito Finds His Touch
After a fairly unproductive first year with the Galaxy, 2021 was really Hernandez’s time to blossom in MLS, and he did just that, scoring 17 times in 21 appearances for a 0.88 goals-per-90 average. With head coach Greg Vanney also settling into the Los Angeles Galaxy hot-seat after a playoff-less first year, and the team adding Brazilian playmaker Douglas Costa, the Galaxy look serious about getting back to the postseason at the very least.
😎 @CH14_ said double or nothing
Check out Chicharito’s brace from yesterdays preseason match pic.twitter.com/HxZV0EVE3W
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) February 20, 2022
Hernandez will be the one expected to provide the goals to get them there, and on the basis of an injury-hit 2021 season, he looks ready to do just that.
MLS Golden Boot Best Bet
If everything clicks as head coach Brian Schmetzer hopes it will in Seattle, Ruidiaz looks a smart bet at +1000 to earn his first Golden Boot. The Seattle attack will be channeled entirely through him as its spearhead, and with a fabulous supporting cast, both the Sounders and Ruidiaz will be hard to stop.
Raul Ruidiaz (+1000)