Goals win games, everybody knows that.
The Golden Boot race is one of the most exciting aspects of any league outside of the actual play on the pitch. In MLS, it's no different, with a whole host of strikers up and down the league capable of going on a run and taking home the big prize. Taty Castellanos was this year's winner, hitting the net 19 times.
But does that necessarily make him the most prolific striker in MLS? What the Golden Boot doesn't account for is players who joined mid-season, struggled with injuries, or played as an impact sub.
So, who really scored the most goals in MLS this season? Here is what the Golden Boot race would look like on a per 90-minute basis*.
*Players with the same goals per 90 are separated by actual goals, then minutes played.
9. Anderson Julio (Real Salt Lake) - 0.7 goals per 90
With Damir Kreilach in front of him in the pecking order, it was always going to be tough for Anderson Julio to hold down a starting berth at RSL, especially considering he's only there on loan. But the Ecuadorian forward played the super-sub role to perfection, netting eight goals in just 1,018 minutes, with five of his strikes coming from the bench. His pace and trickery have proved extremely effective against tired defenses.
He's netted some important strikers, too, including in narrow wins over Houston Dynamo, Minnesota United, and LA Galaxy. RSL jumped into the Playoffs on Decision Day at the expense of the Galaxy, so that goal was particularly crucial.
8. Darl Dike (Orlando City) - 0.7 goals per 90
It took Daryl Dike a while to get his season going after returning from his Barnsley loan and getting injured. But once he got rolling, he was as unstoppable as ever.
The United States international scored seven goals in his final nine regular-season matches to take his total to 10, at a clip of 0.7 per 90. With Dike in this sort of form, you cannot write off Orlando in the Playoffs.
7. Josef Martinez (Atlanta United) - 0.7 goals per 90
Josef Martinez understandably had his minutes managed in the regular season after sitting out the whole of 2020 with an ACL injury. And yet, he still bagged 12 goals in 24 appearances at a rate of 0.7 per 90.
Four of Martinez's 12 strikes have been match-winners - including that ridiculous volley against Cincy - without which Atlanta United wouldn't have had a prayer of Playoff qualification. Fully fit or not, the Venezuelan remains one of, if not the, most feared goalscorers in MLS.
6. Adam Buksa (New England Revolution) - 0.7 goals per 90
Among a host of other things, the New England Revolution have been an attacking juggernaut this year. In reality, that's been the key to their immense, record-breaking success.
And one of the cornerstones of that attacking force is Adam Buksa who hit 16 regular-season goals at a rate of 0.7 per 90.
Buksa has formed an almost telepathic understanding with Gustavo Bou and they, along with Carles Gil and Tajon Buchanan, will take some stopping in the Playoffs.
5. Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle Sounders) - 0.7 goals per 90
If there's one man who has seriously rivaled Josef Martinez over the years, it's Raul Ruidiaz. This season has been no different. The Peruvian striker sits pretty on 0.7 in the goals per 90 chart. His 16 goals came from just 2,149 minutes - far less than the likes of Damir Kreilach and Gonzalo Higuain below him in the standings.
The best thing about Ruidiaz is the opposition is never safe from him. Lobbing the keeper from 40 yards? Smashing one into the top corner? Slotting home from inside the six-yard box? Ruidiaz scores every kind of goal.
4. Miguel Berry (Columbus Crew) - 0.9 goals per 90
Miguel Berry scored eight goals in just 841 regular-season minutes. That's an absurd return and fantastic value for a 2020 MLS SuperDraft pick-up.
It's also enough to make you wonder why Caleb Porter hasn't given him more minutes. Perhaps the Crew would've crawled across the Playoff line had Berry just seen more of the pitch?
3. Cristian Arango (LAFC) - 0.9 goal per 90
Cristian Arango has benefitted greatly from penalties, netting five of his 14 goals from the spot. But some of his other strikes have been works of art, if you define supreme, predatory goalscoring as art.
Make no mistake about it, LAFC wouldn't have even been in with a sniff of Playoff qualification without Arango's 0.9 goals every 90 minutes. He has a great argument for this season's Newcomer of the Year award. MVP next year...?
2. Chicharito (LA Galaxy) - 0.9 goals per 90
After a bad 2020 showing, Chicharito went on a tear at the start of this season, bagging 10 goals across his opening 10 appearances, including seven in his first five.
If injuries hadn't kept him out of action for well over two months, he'd have undoubtedly won the Golden Boot, but netting 17 times in 21 appearances to sit just two behind eventual winner Castellanos is testament to just how clinical he's been in the box this season.
There's no way the Galaxy miss the Playoffs if Chicharito is fit for the whole season.
1. Ola Kamara (DC United) - 0.9 goals per 90
The eventual Golden Boot runner-up, Ola Kamara scored goals at a phenomenal rate this season, netting his 19 strikes in just 1,824 minutes at 0.9 per 90.
Okay, so the Norweigian striker scored nine penalties - at least four more than any other player in the league - but you still have to put them in the net. It's certainly not as easy as it looks.
Nobody expected this from Kamara this season but he was ruthless in the 18-yard box, only missing out on the Golden Boot due to having fewer assists than Castellanos.