With the return of the European season, I return to my fruitless efforts to bestow a meaningless award to the top American goal scorer of the 2022 calendar year. If you're unfamiliar with the Golden Shoe Race here’s a quick run down:
The Golden Shoe tracks national team eligible goalscorers across every top flight, and a few lower divisions, around the world.
Goals are tabulated for league, continental, cup, and super cup competitions. Every competition is awarded a goal modifier to determine point value, ranging from 3 for the strongest to 1 for the weakest.
Cup goals are taken on a case by case basis, a goal against a top flight team would gain the same amount of points as if it were a league game, a goal against a 4th division side is only gonna be worth half of a point. Domestic super cups have the same modifier as the country’s top league, international super cups have their continent’s modifier.
The ten highest accumulators of points make up the leaderboard. Tiebreakers are determined by total goals scored, followed by assists, followed by fewest minutes played.
The modifiers are as followed:
3 Points: UEFA Champions League
2.5 Points: Copa Libertadores
2 Points: Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Europa League, all other tier 1 continental competitions.
1.5 Points: 2nd divisions for all 2 point leagues, leagues ranked 6-22 by UEFA Country Coefficients*, Conference League, Copa Sudamerica, Brasileiro Serie A, Argentine Primera Division, Liga MX, MLS, Uruguayan Primera Division, Ecuadorian Serie A, Peruvian Primera Division, South African Premier Division**.
1 Point: 3rd divisions for all 2 point leagues, 2nd divisions for all 1.5 point leagues, all other top division leagues.
*any UEFA leagues that dropped from the top 22 this year during the offseason will keep the 1.5 point modifier. Any league that jumped into the top 22 will retroactively receive the 1.5 point modifier for goals scored in the first half of the year.
**Peruvian Primera Division and the South African Premier Division have been granted 1.5 point status. Other leagues around the world that do not currently have an USMNT eligible player may be granted 1.5 point status after evaluation should such a player join the league.
With all that out of the way, time to get to the leaderboard. Only one new name on the list and domestic players have taken advantage of the European offseason to move up. Still a very competitive race.
Brandon Vazquez, FC Cincinnati, 13 league goals-19.5 points
Vazquez has been the surprise breakout star of the 2022 MLS season, and is in the thick of the league’s golden boot race. He’s so far the top American scorer in the league (albeit barely) which has allowed him to move from 10th from the original rankings in June, all the way to the number one spot. Currently on the outside of the national team picture, Vazquez has received mention from Gregg Berhalter as he tries to break into the September Camp.
Jordan Pefok, BSC Young Boys/Union Berlin, 11 league goals (Swiss), 1 league goal (Bundesliga), 1 cup goal-19 Points
11 goals after the New Year helped Pefok win the Swiss Golden Boot, an accomplishment that swiftly earned him a transfer to Union Berlin in the Bundesliga. He has already opened his account in Germany with goals in both the DFB Pokal and the Bundesliga, hopefully an indicator he’ll be able to keep up his scoring pace. As the only striker in a top 5 league, with Europa League on the table, Pefok should be the favorite to win the American Golden Shoe
Jesus Ferreira, FC Dallas, 12 league goals-18 points
Ferriera beats out the current third place holder on an assisted tiebreaker. The 21 year old has emerged as Berhalter's number 1 choice at striker. Ferreira’s in the midst of a career year, that’s seen him earn his first MLS All Star selection, though his scoring rate has appeared to taper off a little bit.
Jeremy Ebobisse, San Jose Earthquakes, 12 league goals-18 points
A transfer to San Jose has been transformative for Ebobisse, as the switch from a winger at Portland to a center forward for the Earthquakes has allowed him to excel. Yet the Cameroonian Dual Nat (who was named to Cameroon’s AFCON preliminary roster) has not been able to garner the same level of attention as his two MLS counterparts. Nonetheless Ebobisse has reemerged as one of the best strikers in the league.
Milan Iloski, Orange County SC, 16 league goals, 1 cup goal-16.5 points
The 23 year old Iloski is the only USL player to crack the top ten of this list. For that matter he is the only 2nd division player period on the list. Yet the North Macedoian dual nat, and former US U-19, has been the USL Championship’s top scorer and has more goals than any other American in 2022. Hopefully this winter he’ll earn a move to MLS to see if he can replicate that performance at a higher level.
Haji Wright, Antalyaspor, 10 league goals, 1 cup goal-16.5 points
Wright went on an absolute tear at the end of Turkish Super Lig season, a tear which earned him his first call up and cap with the USMNT. Whether he receives a second such opportunity remains to be seen, but his performance also earned him a permanent move to Antalyaspor. If he can keep up the same rate of scoring, he should be able to stay in the hunt for a national team spot, and could still emerge as the top American goalscorer.
Jordan Morris, Seattle, 6 league goal, 3 continental goals-15 points
While benefiting from a successful CONCACAF Champions League campaign, Morris has also taken advantage of a run of good form since his last call up. The winger is in a competitive fight for one of the last few spots on the World Cup roster and will look to expand on that form in the coming months.
Isaac Acuna, Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa FC, 14 league goals-14 points
Acuna was the surprise selection on June’s list, as the former New York Cosmo has emerged as one of Guatemala's top goal scorers. Already adding a goal in each of his two games in the Liga Nacional Apertura, Acuna has a legitimate shot of scoring the most goals of any American in 2022. Though poor modifiers will likely prevent him from moving far up this list.
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea, 4 league goals, 2 continental goals-14 points
Having the man in the mirror on a list below Isaac Acuna just feels wrong. Pulisic is possibly the most important player to the USMNT, and as the only player currently on the leaderboard in the UEFA Champions League, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to move up. That is if he can get significant playing time at Chelsea.
Paul Arriola, FC Dallas, 9 league goals-13.5 points
The second FC Dallas to make this list, like Jordan Morris, Arriola is competing for a spot in Qatar. The winger is having an excellent season, as he and Ferreira have been a dangerous combination in MLS. As always his speed has helped contribute to a notable number of goals. Whether the decision to pick Dallas over Club America helps him get into the World Cup, remains to be seen.
As always if I'm missing anyone, if there's an obscure national team eligible player tearing it up in Uzbekistan for instance, let me know.