No time wasted: The hottest career goal-scoring starts in MLS history
With two goals against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night, Chicago Fire striker Nemanja Nikolic became the first player to 10 goals in Major League Soccer this season.
Nikolic came to MLS as a Designated Player with a great goal-scoring record, and his quick start ranks right up there with some of the fastest career starts in MLS history. With an assist from the internet research of Twitter and Fire communications director Frank Stranzl, we’ve compiled some of the very best starts to a goal-scoring career in the history of MLS.
Three of the strong debuts come from the inaugural season in 1996, and there are plenty of recognizable names in this list, including a few Designated Players.
Jermain Defoe – 10 goals in 12 games – 2014 season
Defoe has a legendary goal-scoring career in England, and he still manages to make this list despite lasting just 19 games in MLS. The English national team striker got off to a fantastic start for Toronto FC, scoring 11 goals in his first 13 games, but things would cool off quickly after that.
Defoe would play limited minutes over the final months of the season as Toronto fired manager Ryan Nelsen and he was eventually sold to Sunderland in a swap for American forward Jozy Altidore. Of all the goal-scorers on this list, Defoe finished with the smallest final tally in his MLS career: 11 goals.
Taylor Twellman: 10 goals in 12 games; 2002 season
Known now as a top broadcaster for MLS games, Twellman may be underappreciated in the history of MLS, even despite an MVP award and a top-five record in goal-scoring. Twellman broke onto the scene with the New England Revolution in 2002 by scoring 10 goals in 12 games, and he eventually fell just one goal shy of the Golden Boot, beaten out by Carlos Ruiz.
Twellman’s team would fall to Ruiz’s Galaxy, too. Somewhat surprisingly, Twellman wasn’t given the Rookie of the Year award, nor the rookie goal-scoring record because he had spent two seasons as a professional with 1860 Munich, where he played in the third division with the reserve team. Had he been counted as a rookie, his mark would still stand above Cyle Larin’s 17 goals in 2015 for most ever in MLS.
Juan Pablo Angel: 10 goals in 13 games; 2007 season
The Colombian came to MLS after a distinguished career overseas and with his national team, where he established himself as a top goal-scorer. That only continued in MLS. Angel got off to a very quick start with 10 goals in 13 games, and he would finish as runner-up for the Golden Boot with 19 goals.
He was a finalist for MLS MVP and Newcomer of the Year and was named to the MLS Best XI and the All-Star team, helping the New York Red Bulls reach the MLS playoffs along the way. Angel would go on to score 72 goals in 152 games in his MLS career, most of which came in his first four seasons with the Red Bulls (58 goals in 124 games).
Joe-Max Moore: 10 goals in 13 games; 1996 season
The American striker was allocated to New England later in the season, and he managed to net 11 goals in the 14 games he played. It was the beginning of a fruitful career for the Revs. Moore, who started his career in Germany, would go on to score 41 goals in 96 career games in New England, which included a three-year hiatus he spent playing with Everton in the Premier League. The 11 goals he scored in half a season in 1996 would be his second-best tally of any year in his MLS career; he finished with 15 goals in 29 games in 1999.
Giovanni Savarese: 10 goals in 13 games; 1996 season
Yet another goal-scorer on this list from MLS inaugural season, Savarese had a short, but prolific time in the league. He slowed down after his rapid start to that first season, finishing with just 13 goals in 1996, but he would show consistency over his next few years. Savarese finished with tallies of 14, 14 and 10 goals over the next three seasons with the MetroStars and Revolution, respectively.
The Venezuelan striker closed out his time in MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2000, but finished without a goal in just four appearances. Savarese would go on to hit double-digit goals with Swansea City later that year, and played a few more seasons professionally before retiring. He’s now the head coach of the New York Cosmos in the NASL.