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Which MLS star are you betting on for the Golden Boot?


With September not yet behind us, all the talk among lovers of online casinos and sports betting is on the English Premiership and the NFL, both of which have only recently got underway. But with the plethora of different sports and leagues going on around the globe, as one season starts off, another is always drawing to a close.

In Major League Soccer, we are rapidly getting towards the sharp end of the season, and while some fans will be thinking purely of the playoffs, those who enjoy a wager will have their minds on the Golden Boot.

Online betting specials

Anyone with a passion for football betting always loves the “specials” – these are the bets that have little to do with the match results themselves, but are all about the peripheral aspects of the game. During the Premiership transfer window, there was a frenzy of debate, and plenty of money changing hands, as punters logged on to sites like uk-casinos to find the best odds and accurately try to predict who would end up where.

No sooner was deadline day put behind us than we had another great annual institution – the sack race. This was won, if that is the right word, by Frank de Boer, when he was unceremoniously ditched by Crystal Palace, and in so doing, became the first Premiership manager to be fired this season.

The Golden Boot

While some fans of a bloodthirsty disposition are still concentrating on which Premiership manager will be the next to fall, others are shifting their attention back across to MLS, where the race is hotting up to decide who will be this year’s leading goal scorer.

The Golden Boot is an award that is taken seriously by players as well as gamblers. As the season progresses, it is fascinating to see the odds shift one way and then another, and this year has not disappointed.

With only a handful of games remaining, New York’s Spanish star David Villa remains favourite to retain his spot at the top. However, many were saying the same thing about him this time last year, only for him to be pipped at the post by Bradley Wright Phillips.

The mathematics behind the odds

There are five or six players with a reasonable chance of finishing in top spot. Every gambler knows that winning demands a blend of skill, luck and mathematics, whether it is in the world of sports betting or a casino game like roulette.

In picking a winner here, though, that final factor could play a bigger role than usual. The point to remember is that although Villa is a goal ahead of his closest rival, NYC have played more games than some, giving him fewer opportunities to add to his tally. A glance down the leaderboard shows one name that could have a better chance than all the rest at overhauling his total.

Atlanta still have seven games remaining, two more than NYC, and their leading scorer is Venezuela international Josef Martínez. He has hit the headlines recently for scoring hat tricks in two consecutive games, only the third time this has happened in MLS history. As if that wasn’t enough, he also set a league record by scoring seven goals in as many days.

Form like that, combined with the greater mathematical potential for goal scoring over the remainder of the campaign has to make him a good bet for finishing top of the pile by the end of the season.

Who is Josef Martínez?

This time last year, few in MLS circles had even heard of Josef Martínez. Atlanta signed him from Italian club Torino, initially on a loan deal, and he soon made his presence felt with the first of three hat tricks this season, in the team’s 6-1 win over Minnesota United. The talent on display was enough to prompt his employers to activate the buyout clause and make the move a permanent one, for an undisclosed fee.

Five goals in his first three games led to him being named MLS Player of the Month for March, and there was disappointment in Atlanta when he had to bid them a temporary farewell to go on international duty for Venezuela in their World Cup qualifier against Peru.

Miracle man

Martínez goal scoring statistics this year are all the more amazing when you take into account that he has been absent for more than three months – that international call up resulted in a left quad injury that sidelined him for several weeks. As a consequence, he has actually played around half as many games as his closest rivals.

To put it into context, let’s take a look at the top five as they currently stand:

1) David Villa (NYC) – 19 goals from 26 games
2) Diego Valeri (POR) – 18 goals from 28 games
3) Nemanja Nikolic (CHI) – 18 goals from 29 games
4) Ola Kamara (CLB) – 16 goals from 30 games
5) Josef Martínez (ATL) – 16 goals from 14 games

The statistics speak for themselves. No other player has come close to averaging a goal per game, and if he plays in the remaining seven fixtures, nobody would bet against him increasing that tally significantly.

Will he be able to do enough? The mathematics certainly supports the suggestion. If he and his closest rivals continue scoring at their current goals per game rate, Martínez will finish the season on 25 and his closest rival will be Villa on 23.

Mathematics, skill and luck

If the luck and skill sides with the mathematics we outlined earlier, and Martínez walks away with the Golden Boot, it will be an awesome achievement for someone who has missed so much of the regular season through no fault of his own.

But in that event, we should also spare a thought for David Villa. Last year, his 23 goals earned him second place, two short of the final winner. If our calculations are right, there is every chance of history repeating itself in 2017.


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