As some clubs are on the verge of completing a third of the 2016 MLS season, ESPN FC took the opportunity to ask Jeff Carlisle, Doug McIntyre, Jason Davis and Graham Parker which of the league's current top scorers is most likely to keep up his goal-scoring form to win the league's Golden Boot award.
Kei Kamara | New England Revolution
Well that went wrong quickly ...
Kei Kamara is a goal scorer. He's capable of playing deeper and covering ground in a 4-3-3, he's happy to spearhead a 4-2-3-1, but he's always, always angling toward the edge of the 6-yard box and waiting for the ball that will allow him to do what he does best.
And until about an hour into Saturday's game against Montreal, Kamara was the unquestioned goal scorer for Columbus Crew SC. But after the spectacular fallout from his penalty dispute with Federico Higuain, an incident that exposed underlying tensions in the Crew SC locker room, Kamara found himself moving on to New England Revolution in a last-minute deadline-day switch.
Another player might be unsettled by what happened, but if the unrepentantly outspoken Kamara has illustrated anything this week, it's that goal scorers only care about scoring goals. And in New England, he is in a great place to do so. The Revs have not been as bad as their recent record suggests, and they continually create chances from even more angles than the Crew supporting attackers who assisted on many of Kamara's goals.
The Revs are third in chances created in the league but 15th in converting those chances. Now they have a goal scorer who could go on to have the kind of season Mike Magee did when a strong goal-scoring start in Los Angeles segued into an MVP season with Chicago in 2013.
Kamara might even get to take some penalties.
-- Graham Parker (@KidWeil)
Chris Wondolowski | San Jose Earthquakes
The Golden Boot race in MLS is still ultra-tight just a third of the way through the season. As of yet, no player has managed to separate from the pack and earned the tag of favorite to win the award.
Over the course of the past six seasons, though, no player merits inclusion for the title of best MLS goal scorer more than Wondolowski. He is the easy choice. Talented players have come and gone in that period, putting up bigger numbers than Wondolowski and limiting him to two Golden Boots, but when it comes to year-in, year-out consistency, the Quakes man is in a league by himself.
Here's why Wondolowski can win the Golden Boot again, at age 33: The San Jose system is set up to provide him chances, and has enough talent -- especially on the wings -- to make sure he gets them. Shea Salinas might be the best crosser of the ball in the league, and the return of Simon Dawkins has opened things up a bit. Quincy Amarikwa's partnering of Wondolowski means he has less to do defensively and can focus on what he does best: getting in position and scoring.
Wondolowski is still among the top four or five finishers in the league. It will likely take more than 20 goals to win the scoring title, and Wondolowski hasn't reached that threshold since his record-tying season of 2012 -- but doubt him at your own risk. There's plenty of reason to believe.
-- Jason Davis (@Davisjsn)
Fanendo Adi | Portland Timbers
Predicting the winner of the Golden Boot often requires looking at a few bits of data that go beyond a player's ability. First, does the player have international commitments? If not, that enhances a player's chances. Not only will he always be on the field, but some of his competitors won't. Does he take penalties? That too will better the odds of being atop the scoring charts at season's end.
Of course, the most important aspects of all are to be talented and play for an offensive juggernaut.
Adi checks off all of these boxes, which is why I think he's the favorite to claim the Golden Boot. Portland is tied for fifth in the league in scoring, and Adi has the likes of Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe available to provide him a steady supply of service.
The Nigerian is also an absolute nightmare to play against, a player whose strength creates matchup problems for every opponent the Timbers face. In Adi's brief time in MLS, he has proven to be an adept finisher as well, tallying 34 goals in 74 league and playoff appearances.
The competition will no doubt be fierce -- last year's winner, Sebastian Giovinco, is showing no signs of letting up -- but Adi has all of the tools needed to claim the goal-scoring crown.
-- Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle)
Giovani Dos Santos | LA Galaxy
Dos Santos didn't get on the score sheet in the Galaxy's 2-2 tie at Philadelphia on Wednesday, but nobody should bet against the Mexican forward topping the MLS scoring chart when the season is said and done.
The reason, besides the blistering form Dos Santos has enjoyed over the last month, is simple: Although Dos Santos was included on El Tri's 40-man preliminary roster for next month's Copa America Centenario, he's no lock to make manager Juan Carlos Osorio's final 23. Dos Santos has not been called in since Osorio took the Mexico job in November, and last week the Galaxy No. 10 told ESPN FC that he hasn't spoken to Osorio "in a few months."
If Dos Santos, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Wednesday, is left out, he'll have something to prove -- much like the Galaxy's last No. 10, Landon Donovan, did after U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann cut him from the World Cup team two years ago. (Donovan led the Galaxy to an MLS Cup title and posted some of the best numbers of his career following the snub.)
Dos Santos also won't miss any games because of international duty, giving him an advantage over the likes of Giovinco, who is expected to miss several matches during Italy's stay at Euro 2016. Dos Santos' younger legs might help him outlast prolific 30-somethings Wondolowski and David Villa, too.
Add in an improving partnership with Robbie Keane and LA's league-best offense -- with 24 goals scored, the Galaxy have seven more than any other team -- and it's hard not to like Gio's odds.
-- Doug McIntyre (@DougMacESPN)