2020 MLS Golden Boot Odds Favor Vela, Martinez and Chicharito in Top 3


Javier Hernandez

LA's Javier Hernandez is one of the early leaders to win the MLS Golden Boot. Photo by @D_OF_SantaRosa (Twitter)

  • The MLS regular season kicks off on Saturday, February 29, 2020
  • 2019 Golden Boot winner Carlos Vela and 2018 winner Josef Martinez are the top-two favorites
  • See the odds for each of the top 26 contenders to win the Golden Boot this season

With the MLS regular season kicking off on Saturday, February 29, Golden Boot odds have been released for the league’s top scorer. The usual suspects lead the way in past winners Carlos Vela and Josef Martinez, but could a newcomer to the league make the jump and offer more betting value?

2020 MLS Golden Boot Odds

Player (Team) 2019 MLS Goals Odds at Bovada
Carlos Vela (LAFC) 34 +175
Josef Martinez (ATL) 30 +275
Javier Hernandez (LA) N/A +650
Gustavo Bou (NE) 9 +700
Kei Kamara (COL) 14 +800
Diego Rossi (LAFC) 16 +900
Bradley Wright-Phillips (LAFC) 2 +1100
Luis Amarilla (MIN) N/A +1400
Heber (NYCFC) 15 +1600
Alejandro Pozuelo (TFC) 12 +2500
Jozy Altidore (TFC) 11 +2500
Gyasi Zardes (CLB) 13 +2800
Raul Ruidiaz (SEA) 11 +3300
Kacper Przybylko (PHI) 15 +5000
Diego Rubio (COL) 11 +7500
Jordan Morris (SEA) 10 +7500
Ola Kamara (DC) 3 +7500
Carles Gil (NE) 10 +8000
Rodolfo Pizarro (MIA) N/A +8000
Alexandru Mitrita (NYCFC) 12 +10000
Bojan Krkic (MTL) 3 +12500
Chris Wondolowski (SJ) 15 +12500
Daniel Royer (NYRB) 11 +12500
Jurgen Locadia (CIN) N/A +12500
Mauro Manotas (HOU) 13 +12500
Nani (ORL) 12 +12500

Odds taken on Feb. 25

Vela and Martinez Top the Odds Board

Unsurprisingly, the past two winners of the award lead by a substantial margin in the odds. In 2018, Atlanta’s Josef Martinez broke the single-season goal record with 31 tallies. Last season, the record was broken once again. 2019 league MVP Vela scored 34 goals, seven more than Martinez who finished with 27. In second place was Zlatan Ibrahimovic with 30, who’s now left the LA Galaxy for AC Milan in Italy. Go back one more year and the 2017 winner was then-Chicago Fire Nemanja Nikolic with 24.

It’s clear that scoring is on the rise in the league. It will surely take 25+ plus goals and likely even 30+ to take home the coveted award this season.

While the league’s top marksmen are both expected to (and likely will) have strong seasons once again, their odds just aren’t that appealing.

Martinez saw his goals total rise from 19 in 2017 (though only 17 starts), to 31 in 2018 before last year’s dip to 27. Though he did play in five fewer games. He should continue to collect plenty of goals through penalties, converting on 8/9 PKs last year. The Five Stripes also adopted a much less open and attacking style last year under Frank de Boer. In 2020, Atlanta has seen a lot of turnover to the roster, which could possibly affect his ability to continue to put up gaudy numbers.

In Vela, there’s little to suggest the Mexican star will regress in 2020. He’ll also collect plenty of PKs, leading the league with 9/11 converted. However, after a season which saw LAFC and Vela smash all sorts of records, yet come up short of their ultimate goal of winning MLS Cup, I do wonder if head coach Bob Bradley may elect to rest Vela at various points in the season.

LAFC have already begun their competitive season in CONCACAF Champions League (CCL), had a shortened offseason and will likely go deep in the US Open Cup. With plenty of scoring among the LAFC ranks, perhaps Vela is rested at times for a Cup run.

2020 MLS Cup Odds Tracker

Can Chicharito Replace Zlatan?

Ibra was a beast for the Galaxy, being involved in 37 (30G/7A) of LA’s 58 goals. The Galaxy offense revolved around Zlatan. That won’t be the case with Chicharito, as they’ll likely be more balanced with Cristian Pavon and Aleksandar Katai. And while Chicharito is Mexico’s all-time goalscorer, it’s been some time since he was a prolific scorer.

In both 2018/19 and 2017/18, he scored eight goals each year. At his height, he scored 17 Bundesliga goals in 2015/16 and another 11 the following season. Now no one is comparing MLS to the top European leagues, but I see him more as a very good piece to a Galaxy attack, versus the only piece to their attack.

Newcomers, Longshots and More

The fourth man on this list is an intriguing bet. New England’s Gustavo Bou joined the Revs in midseason last year and was an immediate impact with nine goals in 13 starts. However, he didn’t take any PKs. Those generally went to teammate Carles Gil who converted 4/5. A full season of Bou in 2020 could mean big things for him and the Revolution offense, though he’ll now be competing for goals with new DP forward Adam Buksa. That said, odds on Bou winning the Golden Boot exist as high as 50-1 if you shop around, and at that price has to be worth a bet.

Another player who has widely-differing odds depending on where you shop is DC’s striker Ola Kamara. He’s listed anywhere from as low as 33-1 to an incredible 75-1 at Bovada. Oddsmakers may be looking at the fact that Kamara scored just three goals last season (in three starts) or maybe the fact that DC scored a putrid 42 goals as a team in 2019. Or maybe they’re just seeing a DC squad minus Wayne Rooney and discounting the whole lot.

But Kamara is a pure goal-scorer, having scored 16, 18 and 14 in his previous three years with Columbus and the Galaxy. Kamara will be the focus of DC’s attack and will have a new DP signing in Peruvian international Edison Flores pulling the strings in midfield to help create plenty of chances.

Someone who’s ranked high but surely won’t win? Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Clearly, oddsmakers are remembering the BWP of past when he scored 27, 17, 24, 17 and 20 goals in five-straight years. The BWP of today started just nine games for the Red Bulls last year and scored only two goals. Now a move to the offensive juggernaut that is LAFC could see him knock in a few more and he may find some extra playing time early on with the injury to Adama Diomande, but he turns 35 this year and isn’t expected to be more than a nice depth piece for the title contenders.

Let’s throw a few more names into the mix, one favorite and a couple of longshots.

NYFC scored the league’s second-most goals last year with 63. Of those, 15 came from Heber (+1600). He missed some time last season, but his 15 goals came in just 18 starts. He’s off to a flying start in 2020 with a hat-trick in his opening CCL match vs San Carlos.

Way down the odds board sits Portland Timbers’ new DP signing forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda. He led the Polish league with 14 goals in 18 games for Legia Warsaw. At 66-1 odds, he could be worth an investment. It’s hard to compare the leagues, but he, along with TAM signing Felipe Mora, are expected to rejuvenate a Timbers’ offense which struggled last year.

One player not listed at Bovada is Sporting Kansas City’s new DP signing Alan Pulido. He has odds of 50-1 if you shop around and is coming off winning the Golden Boot in Liga MX. Could be worth a flier.

Best Bet

With such a long season and the risk of injury always present, I believe it’s wise to spread out a few bets at lower stakes for a market such as Golden Boot. I certainly wouldn’t talk anyone out of a play on Vela or Martinez but their odds are so short for the length of time for this investment.

Otherwise, if not one of the big longshots, I think the best value is NYC’s Heber at 16-1. He’s playing on a great team, had a solid year in 2019 with a goals/90 of 0.86 and has already started strong in 2020 in the CCL.

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