FRISCO, Texas - We're in the midst of MLS All-Star voting and I'm here to make a case for two players: Jesús Ferreira and Paul Arriola. Thankfully, the pair have done a damn good job making the case for themselves already: Ferreira leads the Golden Boot race with 10 goals and Arriola isn't far behind with eight (fourth-most in MLS). Vote HERE.
Not only that, neither player has taken/scored a penalty, meaning they're No. 1 and No. 2 in the league for non-penalty goals.
Ferreira became the first player to reach double digit goals with his audacious free kick goal against LAFC Wednesday night. And what makes his 2022 scoring record even more impressive is that he's not even in the top 10 for shot attempts (he's only taken 37 total shots this season). Ferreira has been incredibly clinical over the campaign, evidenced by his 10 goals scored from just seven Expected Goals (xG, a stats that calculates the quality of a goal-scoring chance by the position the shot is taken from on the field). Essentially, Ferreira is scoring difficult chances and not missing easy ones either. Example:
Arriola's xG stats are also impressive. The 27-year-old winger has scored eights goals from just 4.4 xG, the greatest positive differential in MLS (+3.6). Like Ferreira, Arriola is scoring goals from difficult situations/positions and maximizing his opportunities.
But scoring goals isn't all they're good at. Ferreira and Arriola both work very hard off the ball and are a key part of FCD's first line of defense.
Arriola has the fourth-most pressures among wingers (551) and Ferreira has the most among forwards (818), which is also good for second-most overall (just behind Leon Flach with 884 and ahead of Emanuel Reynoso with 669). Further, Ferreira and Arriola are both tied for fourth-most successful tackles among forwards and wingers with 14 apiece. Basically, neither are the type of forward to hang out on the opponents' backline just waiting for the ball to fall kindly to them in the box. They're cohesive pieces of them team who play both sides of the ball.
But let's get back to basics. They're both attacking players who are there to score goals and make assists, first and foremost. Ferreira leads the way in MLS with 14 total goal contributions (10 goals, four assists) and Arriola is tied for eighth with 10 (eight goals, two assists). Their attacking contributions combined with their defensive work rates mean they should be locks for this year's All-Star game. Please help make sure that they are: Vote HERE.
Stats via FBref and Second Spectrum