Introducing the 2021 American Golden Shoe.
For those of you not familiar, the European Golden Shoe is a weighted award given to the top goalscorer in Europe across the 50+ top flight leagues on the continent. The award is one of the highest honors an attacking player can earn. I am borrowing this concept to establish the American Golden Shoe, in order to determine the top American goal scorer from our many players around the world in 2021.
The rules for the American Golden Shoe have a few key differences compared to the European Golden Shoe, the largest one being that this award is not limited to top flight leagues. Some of the best American soccer players right now play in leagues that are not at the top of their host countries’ respective pyramids. As many of these are equal or even stronger than several top flights, excluding them would simply be ridiculous and not representative of the American pool. Though to be considered, the player must be playing in a fully professional league.
Furthermore to account for differences in schedules between American players, this award is also derived not from a single season of soccer, but rather from the sum total of all goals an individual scores in the calendar year. For example any goal scored by Christian Pulisic for Chelsea in the previous season on or after the date of January 1st, 2021 will be counted in addition to the hopefully many goals he will accumulate this season between now and December 31st.
Another stipulation is that goals scored in reserve or youth leagues are not considered. A player who is on a reserve team that competes in an eligible league however, will have their goals counted. So goals scored earlier this year by Folarin Balogun in the Premier League 2 for Arsenal’s U23s will not be considered, but any goals scored by Sebastian Soto for Porto B in the Liga Portugal 2 would be added to his total. Only league goals are considered part of a player’s total, so any goals scored in international competitions, domestic cups, continental competitions, supercups, whatever the Leagues Cup is, and other various non-league games are excluded.
Regarding dual-nats, any player who has US citizenship or is eligible for the National Team is in turn eligible for this award. So should a player, such as Ricardo Pepi, file a switch for another national team, he would still be in consideration for this award.
In regards to points, goals are weighted depending on the league they’re scored in, with the same scale as European Golden Shoe: 2 points, 1.5 points and 1 point. All European leagues will have the same point value as they do for the European award. The Leagues are weighted as followed:
Tier 1, 2 Points:
Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1
Tier 2, 1.5 Points*:
Leagues ranked 6-22 in the European Country Coefficients, MLS, Liga MX, Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Argentine Primera División, EFL Championship, LaLiga 2, 2. Bundesliga, Serie B, Ligue 2.
*This section may be expanded depending on Americans appearing in leagues not currently considered.
Tier 3, 1 Point:
All other top flight professional leagues and leagues one level below the leagues in Tier 2 in their country’s pyramid.
Here are the current top ten rankings as of August 23rd:
* Due to Werder Bremen’s relegation, Josh Sargent scored 4 goals worth 8 points in the Bundesliga and 2 goals worth 3 points in the 2. Bundesliga.
Guinean born and naturalised citizen Hadji Barry has led all Americans in 2021 with 18 goals for the Colorado Switchbacks, which puts him 7 goals ahead of 2nd place Daryl Dike. However as he plays in the USL Championship, he maintains only a slim lead for the Golden Shoe, with each of his goals counting for only one point. That lead is unlikely to last long as European seasons get underway.
Jordan Siebtacheu’s (or Pefok) 15 points currently leads all Americans who have played exclusively in the top flights of their respective pyramids this year. Matthew Hoppe’s 12 points are the most among Tier 1 leagues, though Schalke’s relegation could prevent that lead from lasting long should he fail to get a transfer before the end of the window.
Julian Green (Greuther Fürth), Andrija Novakovich (Frosinone), Villyan Bijev (OKC Energy) all barely missed out on the top ten, sitting at 9 points each. Christian Pulisic’s 8 points also leaves him a single Premier League goal away from cracking the 10 point threshold.
The list will be periodically updated as more goals are scored.