On Tuesday, Goal.com author and all-around great soccer writer Keith Hickey penned an op-ed in response to Landon Donovan's historic feat of breaking the MLS goalscoring record this past weekend. While congratulating the American legend for his accomplishment, Hickey made an assertion that I think we can all agree with, even as it makes us so sad for what could have been: Taylor Twellman should have the record.
Donovan hit goals 135 and 136 on the weekend, his now-crowning achievement in a domestic career that has also included five MLS titles, two Supporters' Shields, and a laundry list of individual awards. He's also second on the career assist list with 120, and he's done all of this in 311 regular-season appearances. No one debates that Donovan's career has been illustrious, nor that he is a more complete offensive player than Twellman.
Taylor was just a pure scorer, and he was the best the league has ever seen. As Hickey points out, Twellman's 0.58 goals-per-game ratio (101 goals in 174 appearances) is far-and-away the best of any top marksman in the league. Imagine if he'd returned to health in 2010 and averaged, like Donovan, something like 24 matches per season. Twellman would have added another 55-56 goals by the end of 2013, bringing his total up to at least 156. Account for a decline (Twellman is 34 now) and he still hits at least 140, probably more, and he's likely still playing.
We live in an MLS era full of amazing strikers. Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane light up the scoresheet. Forwards like Alvaro Saborio, Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey, and even our own Diego Fagundez are racking up the goals left and right, and Chris Wondolowski came out of nowhere several years ago to rocket up the all-time scoring charts. None of them, however, have had the longevity and consistency showcased by Twellman's near-decade of dominance.
So while we celebrate Donovan's amazing feat of soccer prowess, let's take a moment to remember what could have been, and remember Taylor Twellman, the greatest MLS goalscorer who ever lived, with a career cut too short.
EDITOR'S NOTE: As some have astutely noted, Twellman also did this almost entirely from the run of play, handling something like four penalty kicks for the Revs in his entire career. Guys like LD and Moreno can't say the same.
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