Major League Soccer is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States. The league comprises 28 teams—25 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada—and will expand to 29 teams for the 2023 season.
The MLS Golden Boot or the Audi Golden Boot for sponsorship reasons is awarded annually to the Major League Soccer top scorer or highest goalscorer.
The award has been in existence since the inception of the league in 1996 as MLS Scoring Champion Award where points from goals and assist were used and until 2005, when the Golden Boot was introduced.
We’ve seen a lot of remarkable goal scorers emerge from the league since the inception of the league in 1996. One of the players who made headlines was Carlos Vela after scoring 34 goals to emerge Golden Boot winner in 2019.
So who are the MLS Golden Boot winners? We’ve dug deep to bring you the complete list of winners from 1996 to 2022.
List of MLS Golden Boot winners from 1996 to 2022
2021 Valentín Castellanos (New York City FC) – 19 Goals
2020 Diego Rossi (Los Angeles FC) – 14 Goals
2019 Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC – 34 Goals
2018 Josef Martínez (Atlanta United) – 31 Goals
2017 Nemanja Nikolić (Chicago Fire) – 24 Goals
2016 Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls) – 24 Goals
2015 Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC) 22 Goals
2014 Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls) – 27 Goals
2013 Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) – 22 Goals
2012 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 27 Goals
2011 Dwayne De Rosario (D.C United) – 16 Goals
2010 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 18 Goals
2009 Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas) – 17 Goals
2008 Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy) – 20 Goals
2007 Luciano Emilio (D.C United) – 20 Goals
2006 Jeff Cunningham (Real Salt Lake) – 16 Goals
2005 Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution) – 17 Goals
MLS Scoring Champion (Points)
2004 Amado Guevara (MetroStars) and Pat Noonan (New England Revolution) – 30 Points
2003 Preki (Kansas City Wizards) – 40
2002 Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution) – 52
2001 Alex Pineda Chacón (Miami Fusion) – 47
2000 Mamadou Diallo (Tampa baBayutiny) – 56
1999 Jason Kreis (Dallas Burn) – 51
1998 Stern John (Columbus Crew) – 57
1997 Preki (Kansas City Wizards) – 41
1996 Roy Lassiter (Tampa Bay Mutiny) – 58
Players who have scored most goals in a single season to win the MLS Golden Boot
1. Carlo Vela – (34 Goals in 2019)
Mexican soccer player Carlos Vela scored a record 34 goals in a single season to win the MLS Golden Boot in the 2019 season.
The Mexican was in the books of the Los Angeles Football Club, he had an outstanding season, netting 34 times in 31 games for his club.
Moving the Los Angeles based soccer team in 2018, it took the Mexican a year to adapt to the soccer system in the United States.
He started on a bright note in his debut game on a Los Angeles FC jersey, providing an assist in a slim 1–0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC.
Vela has played for some of the best clubs in European football like Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion and Real Sociedad.
At Real Sociedad, Carlos Vela became one of the most outstanding players in the club’s history having scored 66 goals in 89 La Liga appearances for the club.
2. Josef Martínez (31 Goals in 2018)
Venezuelan professional footballer Josef Martínez is the second player on the list with most goals in a single MLS season. He scored 31 goals for Atlanta United in 2018 which was the club’s MLS debut season.
He scored the goals 31 goala in 34 league appearances for Atlanta United. His performance also assisted in the club’s victory in the MLS Cup in 2018.
Josef Martínez is currently among the most respected forward at Atlanta United. He began his professional career with Caracas, scoring eight goals in thirty-eight Ecuadorian league matches. He was then transferred to Swiss Super League giants BSC Young Boys in 2014.
In 2017, Atlanta United announced his switch from Italy to the Major League Soccer initially on loan. But his contract was eventually made permanent after showing class of brilliance.
The 2018 MLS season was Josef Martínez best career performance in the Major League Soccer with Atlanta United.
3. Chris Wondolowski
Chris Wondolowski is currently the leading all-time Major League Soccer goal scorer. He had one of the best careers in the MLS with over 171 career goals in the league.
The American won the MLS Golden Boot twice in 2010 and,012 at San Jose Earthquakes. He is currently one of the most respected players in the history of Major League Soccer.
Wondolowski began his journey in the league with San Jose Earthquakes in 2005 where he had a brief stint before transferring to Houston Dynamo for the 2006 season.
He scored only four goals in 37 league appearances for the club. In 2009, he returned to the San Jose Earthquakes where he spent most of his Prprofessionaloccer career, scoring 167 goals in 374 appearances.
In 2020, Chris Wondolowski was nominated for the MLS top 25 greatest players of the first 25 years of the league.
4. Bradley Wright-Phillips
English professional footballer Bradley Wright-Phillips was an outstanding player during his time in the Major League Soccer. He won the MLS Golden Boot twice in 2014 and 2016.
Bradley played for three MLS clubs, New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles FC and Columbus Crew. Between 2013 and 2019, Bradley scored a record career goals of 108 in 195 league appearances for the New York Red Bulls.
The Englishman moved to the Los Angeles FC where spent one season and scored eight goals in 19 league appearances. He later moved to Columbus Crew in 2021 and scored a single goal in 21 appearances.
Bradley Wright-Phillips played for some of the biggest names in football including Manchester City, Southampton, and Brentford in the English Football League.
5. Nemanja Nikolić
Nemanja Nikolić is a Hungarian professional footballer who played for Chicago Fire FC from 2017 to 2020. He won the Major League Soccer Golden Boot award surprisingly in 2017, scoring 24 goals in 33 matches.
Although it was only his first season in the league, he was the club’s best-performing player throughout the season.
Nemanja Nikolić has played for teams like Videoton, Legia Warsaw. His best career performance was with the Chicago Fire in the 2017 MLS season.
He was also listed in the MLS Best XI for the 2017 season.
6. Camilo Sanvezzo (22 Goals)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward and Brazilian soccer player Camilo Sanvezzo scored 22 goals to finish the 2013 season as top scorer.
He was outstanding throughout the season, but could not continue with his perfect season since the Vancouver based club failed to reach the MLS Cup playoffs.
In 2013, Vancouver Whitecaps FC signed Camilo from Gyeongnam following a successful trial with the team.
A month later, he scored twice for Vancouver Whitecaps in a league game against Sporting Kansas City. He then continued with his excellent start till the end of the season to finish top scorer with twenty-two goals.
7. Sebastian Giovinco (22 Goals)
Italian footballer Sebastian Giovinco was completely different player in Major League Soccer, scoring 22 in his first season with Toronto FC.
The Canadian based MLS side completed a five year deal with the Italian who’s played for top clubs like Juventus, Empoli and Parma.
He scored some of the most impressive goals that helped Toronto FC to victory in the 2017 MLS Cup. Giovinco was also in the MLS Best XI three times in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
8. Landon Donovan (20 Goals)
American soccer player Landon Donovan took the MLS by storm following his move to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005.
He scored 20 goals in the 2008 MLS season to emerge top scorer. He later moved to Europe where he played for Bayern Munich, and Everton twice on loan before returning to the Galaxy in 2016.
Donovan is one of the most respected American soccer players of all time.
9. Luciano Emilio (20 Goals)
Brazilian soccer player Luciano Emílio won the 2007 MLS Golden Boot.
He won four different awards which include Major League Soccer MVP 2007, MLS Golden Boot Winner 2007, MLS Newcomer of the Year 2007 and MLS Best XI of 2007.
10. Valentín Castellanos (19 Goals)
New York City FC star Valentín Castellanos scored 19 goals to emerge MLS Golden Boot winner for the 2021 season. He scored some of the most important goals that led to the club MLS Cup victory.
The Argentine moved to the New York-based soccer club in 2018 on loan before signing a permit contract with the club. He was an important player throughout the 2021 MLS season.
Several top players have won the MLS Golden Boot since it was introduced in 2005 including notable names like Bradley Wright-Phillips, Chris Wondolowski, Landon Donovan, Carlos Vela, etc.