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Can Cristian Arango break the record for MLS goals in a single season?

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When Real Salt Lake completed the deal to bring Cristian ‘Chicho’ Arango back to MLS last summer, they knew they were getting a proven goalscorer. However the Colombian’s impact over the past year has exceeded all expectations.

Arango has now scored 24 goals and contributed five assists in 36 games for RSL, becoming the focal point of the attack under Pablo Mastroeni. His rate of scoring has been incredible in 2024 and, exactly halfway through the regular season, he stands a real chance of breaking the MLS scoring record.

The Real Salt Lake captain has scored 16 goals in 17 games this season, putting him three goals clear of Christian Benteke and four ahead of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez in the scorers’ charts.

What is the MLS scoring record?

The highest-scoring individual season in the history of MLS is Carlos Vela’s 2019 campaign with LAFC, when he racked up 34 goals in 31 games for the Supporters’ Shield champions. Vela was named MLS MVP that year and that record tally has looked insurmountable in a 34-game season.

He is one of three players to reach 30 goals in a single season, along with Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez (31 goals in 2018) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at LA Galaxy (30 in 2019).

Arango has already had a very successful stint in MLS with LAFC, scoring 14 goals in 17 Games after his mid-season arrival and firing the team to MLS Cup in 2022. However this year’s scoring is at a different level and his impact on the team’s all-round play is just as impressive. Whether or not he can continue his current pace and break the record, his head coach is fully aware of his importance to the team.

Earlier this week Mastroeni paid tribute to Arango’s influence on the squad: “When you have a guy like Chicho on the field, his reputation proceeds him. All the other guys have been waiting for this guy to show up, to jump on his back and go ‘He’s done it, he’s won a championship, he’s been a goal-scorer in this league’... It just makes it easier.”

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