The European Golden Shoe is an award that goes to the top scorer across all top division European Leagues, using a methodology based on multipliers derived from league strength. So while Ricardo Gomes’ 29 league goals for Partizen in the Serbian SuperLiga were the 2nd highest total across Europe, the Cape Verdean striker finished a distant 11th in the Golden Shoe race as a result of his league’s lower multiplier. Using this award as inspiration I attempted last year to devise a similar method to determine the top American scorer from clubs around the world. After some feedback, I’ve revised my methodology for the 2022 calendar year.
Like the European Golden Shoe, the 2022 American Golden Shoe will use a competition based multiplier system to determine a total point score from an individuals’ goal tally from the calendar year. Unlike the European Golden Shoe, this ranking will not be limited to top division players. Some of the best American players compete in leagues that are not the top division of their country’s respective pyramids, but are nonetheless as strong if not stronger than many top divisions in other countries.
However unlike last year, this year I will be factoring in goals scored in continental, cup and super cup competitions, though these will have their own multipliers separate from those for league goals. This is a club based award so national team goals are not considered, nor are goals scored in club friendlies, All Star games or showcases.
Also different from last year, a player must be eligible for the USMNT in order to qualify for this award, so the likes of Brooklyn born Jonathan David with his many Ligue 1 goals will not be on this list. If any player loses eligibility part way through the year they will be removed from contention. So if Jeremy Ebobbisse files a one time switch to Cameroon or Brandon Vasquez makes a cap tying appearance with Mexico before the conclusion of the year, they will be removed from the scoreboard.
The breakdown for goal multipliers is as followed:
2 points: Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1.
1.5 points: 2nd divisions for all 2 point leagues, Brasileiro Serie A, Argentine Primera Division, Liga MX, MLS, Uruguayan Primera División, Ecuadorian Serie A, leagues ranked 6-22 by UEFA Country Coefficients.
1 Point: 3rd divisions for all 2 point leagues, 2nd divisions for all 1.5 point leagues, all other top division leagues.
Note: There are other leagues worthy of a 1.5 point ranking that don’t actively have Americans participating in them. Should that change, those leagues may be added to the 1.5 point spot later in the year.
3 Points: UEFA Champions League
2.5 Points: Copa Libertadores
2 Points: Europa League, all other tier one continental competitions
1.5 Points: Conference League, Copa Sudamerica
Goals scored in qualifiers for these competitions, will be worth 1 point less than the competition’s total.
Cup and Supercup Goals:
Unlike other multipliers, goals scored in cups and supercups will vary depending on a team’s opposition for that particular round. Points will be awarded equal to the league multiplier of the opponent. So if Christian Pulisic were to score against Crystal Palace in the League Cup that would be worth 2 points, though if he were to score against Norwich City it would only be 1.5. Any goals scored against a team that is not competing in at least a 1 point league, will be worth .5 points. International supercups will be equivalent to the continent’s highest competition.
With the Conclusion of the European 2021-2022 season here is the current leaderboard. In the event of a tied score, the first tie breaker will be total goals, followed by assists, followed by fewest number of minutes played.The leaderboard will be updated in August, and finalized in December.
1. Jordan Pefok, BSC Young Boys, 11 league goals-16.5 Points
No surprises here as the Swiss Golden Boot winner takes the early lead in the race for the American Golden Shoe, albeit on tiebreakers. The prolific striker has scored 11 goals since the beginning of the year, despite missing the last few games of the season. With Young Boys 3rd place finish earning them a spot in the first round of Conference League qualifiers, Pefok will have a chance to add to his total through continental competition, though he will surely be overtaken for the lead by the next update.
2. Haji Wright, Antalyaspor, 10 league goals, 1 cup goal-16.5 points
The latest potential answer to American prayers for a proper number 9, Wright took the Turkish Super Lig by storm in 2022, scoring at a truly tremendous pace since March, with 9 goals over the course of 9 league games. Just misses out on the first place spot, as his 2 assists so far this year gives him one fewer than Pefok’s total. A little bit of uncertainty on where Wright will be playing come fall, after a messy transfer saga last Summer. He remains under contract with newly relegated Danish 2nd tier side SønderjyskE though even without the reality of relegation bridges there have been burned.
3. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea, 4 league goals, 2 continental goals-14 points
America’s greatest soccer star, no list of it’s top players would be complete without Chrisian Pulisic. Pulisic actually has the fewest goals of any player in the top ten, but benefits from playing at highest levels and scoring in some of the biggest games. The Hershey star’s two goals over two legs against Lille in the Champions League round of 16, earned him 6 points in addition to the 8 points he gathered from 4 Premier League goals.
4. Jesus Ferreira, FC Dallas, 9 league goals-13.5 points
Ferreira appears to be the current front runner in the competition to determine Gregg Berhalter’s starting 9. For good reason, with 9 goals in 14 games, Ferreira is part of a two way American tie for the MLS Golden Boot lead, and is averaging a goal every 124 minutes and comes in at 4th place due to an edge in assists. With two inform strikers competing this window, hopefully the national team will finally be able to address the biggest weakness in the lineup.
5. Jeremy Ebobisse, San Jose Earthquakes, 9 league goals-13.5 points
Raise your hand if you had Ebobisse competing for the MLS Golden Boot. He’s certainly shown the potential for brilliance in the past, though playing primarily on the wings for the Portland Timbers, he could never quite get that breakout he seemed capable of. Now getting consistent minutes at center forward for San Jose, Ebobisse appears is in the midst of a career year. Possibly too little too late for the USMNT though, as Cameroon appears to have stepped up recruiting efforts for the triple-nat, naming him to their provisional roster for AFCON. However he has yet to file a one time switch and remains eligible for both national teams.
6. Djordie Mihailovic, CF Montreal, 7 league goals, 1 continental goal-12.5 points
A tough break (more likely a sprain) for Mihailovic as he exited his final game before the international window with an injury. Hopefully he’ll be able to recover in time to possibly appear for the final game of the window, as he’s had an MVP caliber season so far this year.
7. Isaac Acuna, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa FC, 12 league goals-12 points
Who? Credit to Acuna, he is the current leading professional American scorer in 2022, though Guatemala's Liga Nacional is only a 1 point league by these metrics, so he comes in at 7th on this list. Still any chance to bring up a former New York Cosmo is a win in my book.
8. Michael Hoyos, L.D.U. Quito, 6 league goals, 1 continental goal-10.5 points
We wrap the top ten, with 3 players tied on points, total goals, and assists, thus forcing the tiebreakers to fewer minutes played. Hoyos, has had a fine early season in Ecuador, but will be disappointed by a group stage exit in the Copa Sudamericana.
9. Paul Arriola, FC Dallas, 7 league goals-10.5 points
The second Dallas player on this list, Arriola comes into the international window in as good form as anybody, scoring six goals in his last five games. Don’t be surprised if he’s paired up with Ferreira in at least one game, as they have formed a deadly duo.
10. Brandon Vasquez, FC Cincinnati, 7 league goals-10.5 points
Vasquez, a former U-20, is having his own breakout season this year after finishing last season strong. He’s been a big part of what is already likely the best season in FC Cincinnati's dreadful MLS history, attracting Berhatler’s attention in the process.
MLS, USL and South American players will likely take the opportunity of the European offseason to climb up the list for the next set of rankings in August. Jordan Morris just missed out on the top ten on tie breakers thanks in part to a very successful Concacaf Champions League campaign. Tim Weah could be another contender in the fall when the European season resumes as he had a strong finish to the season in Ligue 1. Other players on the fringes of this list include CJ Sapong, Wilson Harris, and Terrence Boyd.