Central Winger: Can Bradley Wright-Phillips keep his breakneck pace en route to MLS scoring record?

Bradley Wright-Phillips' 17 goals this season for New York would have put him in an respectable fourth place in last season's Golden Boot race.

The catch, of course, is that the Red Bulls have only played 20 matches so far this season and Major League Soccer is quickly approaching the All-Star Break. Camillo Sanvezzo, the eventual Golden Boot winner in 2013, was sitting on just 13 goals (of his eventual 22) coming into his All-Star Break after 21 matches. 

The narrative seems to be less "Will Wright-Phillips beat Camilo's mark from last year?" and more "Can Wright-Phillips catch Chris Wondolowski's and Roy Lassiter's single-season record of 27 goals?"

Here is a comparison of the last four MLS Golden Boot winners alongside Wright-Phillips and where they stood on their way into the All-Star break:

Wright-Phillips has indeed enjoyed a 2014 season remarkably similar to Wondoloski's 2012 campaign. Both players scored 17 goals through their first 20 appearances. Comparing the total overall quality of their scoring opportunities, both players would have normally been expected score around 12.5 goals and have both over-performed their mark by around 33 percent. 

The only significant difference between the two players has been the divergence in shooting volume and average chance quality. In the first half of Wondolowski's campaign, he had taken about 20 percent more shots than Wright-Phillips this season to date.

To make up for the difference in shot volume, Wright-Phillips has benefited from “the Thierry Henry effect” – Bradley's opportunities have come from situations that Opta measures to be about 15 percent more dangerous than Wondolowski's average 2012 effort.

Still, it's also important to remember that Erik "Cubo" Torres and Dom Dwyer are both in chase with 14 goals apiece -- that's only a few lucky bounces from legitimate contention. And, given that Dwayne De Rosario caught Henry after being 7 goals behind at the All-Star Break in 2011, Wright-Phillips' three-goal lead is nothing to rest on.


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