Top 10 Strikers of the 2014 MLS Season
As the 2014 MLS season comes to a close, Bleacher Report will examine the 10 best players in each position from this past campaign. The top 10 goalkeepers, defenders, defensive midfielders and attacking midfielders have already been revealed, with one list left in the series.
Part five features the top 10 strikers of the 2014 MLS season. They'll be graded based on goals, assists, composure, intelligence and their work rate both on and off the ball.
Here are the 10 best strikers of 2014.
The Houston Dynamo missed the playoffs this season, but their attack kept them in the hunt until the last few weeks of the campaign. Giles Barnes was a key cog in the Dynamo attack, scoring 11 goals, recording five assists.
Barnes' slow start knocks him out of contention for the top 10. The Englishman didn't score in the first eight matches of 2014.
Will Bruin had a couple of niggling injuries that kept him out of the Dynamo starting lineup. He still managed 10 goals in 26 appearances, but he doesn't crack the list due to those knocks.
The American still deserves a mention due to his goalscoring prowess and awareness in the box.
Toronto FC missed the playoffs for an eighth straight season, but if Jermain Defoe wasn't dealing with a groin injury all year, that might be a different story.
Defoe managed to score 11 goals in 19 appearances this season, but his last tally was in July against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The England international may be the best striker in MLS when healthy, but due to his injuries and the lack of playing time, he only gets a mention.
10. Blas Perez
Blas Perez isn't just a goalscorer, he's a complete forward who every head coach would love to have. The Panamanian can track back, defend, make surging runs and be involved in the linkup play.
Perez has 11 goals and six assists in 28 appearances this season. He's one of the reasons why Oscar Pareja's side made the playoffs.
If the 33-year-old wasn't away on international duty, he might have improved on those numbers.
9. Fabian Espindola
Fabian Espindola has recorded double-digit goals with D.C. United, who clinched the Eastern Conference just a year after finishing bottom of Major League Soccer.
Espindola has bagged 10 goals in 26 appearances, but an injury prevented the 29-year-old from improving on those numbers. He surely would have scored more if he was healthy during the summer.
8. Chris Wondolowski
The San Jose Earthquakes' season hasn't gone to plan, but Chris Wondolowski has still delivered.
The American international has scored 14 goals in 25 appearances. His movement off the ball has been praised by the likes of Chelsea's John Terry and his finishing abilities are top notch.
San Jose's acquisition of Matias Perez Garcia was supposed to help Wondolowski up front, but a knee injury ended the Argentine's season. As a result, Wondo's numbers took a hit.
7. Gyasi Zardes
Gyasi Zardes played on the wing in 2013, scoring just four goals, recording four assists. Head coach Bruce Arena did some tweaking this year, allowing Zardes to play up front and his numbers have surged.
The 23-year-old has scored 16 goals this season. Only five players are above Zardes in the Golden Boot race. The American plays for the L.A. Galaxy and, as a result, has excellent service, but he's converted the chances.
Zardes has attempted 71 shots this year, per MLSSoccer.com, which gives him a conversion rate of 22.5 percent.
The youngster's performances have led to conversations about him being the best American striker. Those in favor of that argument might have a point.
6. Dom Dwyer
This is Dom Dwyer's third MLS season, but he spent the majority of his first two years on loan. The Sporting Kansas City forward used that experience and burst onto the scene in 2014.
Dwyer is second in the Golden Boot race with 22 goals in 32 appearances, but he looks set to lose the title to New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips. Nonetheless, the striker has had a terrific season.
However, apart from his finishing, Dwyer leaves a lot to be desired. He struggles at holding up the ball and his passing is inaccurate. The 24-year-old averages over two poor first-touches per match and completes just 68 percent of his passes, via WhoScored.com.
5. Thierry Henry
Henry is still one of the best players in MLS. The ex-Arsenal forward has scored 10 goals, but he also has 14 assists, which exemplifies the countless attributes that he offers the Red Bulls when he's on the pitch.
There are no more superlatives left to describe Henry's legendary status both overseas and in North America. He's one of the top players in MLS and is still one of the five best forwards in the league.
4. Clint Dempsey
Clint Dempsey's first few months in Seattle are a thing of the past. The American international's first full season with the Sounders has finally lived up to expectations.
Dempsey has scored 15 goals, recording nine assists in the process. The only issue with the 31-year-old is that he's been absent in some games.
When Dempsey returned from the World Cup, he went on a five-game goalless streak. Seven of Dempsey's 15 goals came in three matches against Portland, Dallas and Colorado back in April, but the Sounders forward offers more than just scoring.
Dempsey's technique, passing and chemistry with Obafemi Martins is why Seattle is in the thick of the Supporters' Shield race.
3. Bradley Wright-Phillips
Bradley Wright-Phillips' record-breaking season is one of the most surprising, but refreshing storylines this season. A year ago, he was signed by the New York Red Bulls, scoring twice in nine appearances in all competitions.
Now the Englishman leads the league with 25 goals in his first full season in North America. He's established himself as one of the best finishers in MLS, while demonstrating strength and pace.
Wright-Phillips is a solid striker, but is more of a poacher than a complete forward. However, scoring is the most important attribute for an attacker, and the 29-year-old is tops in that category.
2. Obafemi Martins
There were transfer rumours surrounding Seattle Sounders designated player Obafemi Martins after just one season in MLS. Martins ended up staying, which has paid off big time.
The Nigerian is being touted as one of the favourites to win the league's MVP award. It's a fair argument. Martins has 17 goals and 12 assists in 30 games this season.
He can dribble past defenders in small pockets of space, he's composed, strong and can help create attacks. Martin is, without doubt, one of the best players in the league and arguably the best striker in MLS.
1. Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane should be MLS MVP, according to the numbers. The Irish international has 19 goals, five of them are game-winners, and he has 14 assists.
Keane deserves a lot more credit than he currently receives. He's integral to the L.A. Galaxy and has played a large factor in their last two MLS Cup victories. He might finally achieve the recognition he deserves.