Ruiz, Martinez and Schelotto: The Top 10 best individual MLS seasons of all time

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Josef Martinez is in the midst of one of the best seasons in MLS history. Here is a look at the players whose company he has joined

Josef Martinez is enjoying one of the best seasons in Major League Soccer history, with his most recent goal for Atlanta United helping him break the league record for goals in a season with 28. With eight more games to play, Martinez is poised to obliterate the old record of 27 goals, leading to the question of where his season stacks up against the best ever seen in MLS.

The best individual seasons in league history have seen trophy-winning campaigns, as well as big statistical outputs. Those special players who were able to dominate statistically, while also winning titles, setting a standard that Martinez is still working towards. If Martinez can help Atlanta United secure a Supporters' Shield and/or an MLS Cup title, it will make a very strong case that his 2018 season will have been the best in MLS history.

Which players have set the bar for best seasons in league history? Here are Goal's picks for the top 10:

  1. #10 Josef Martinez, Atlanta United, 2018

    The Venezuelan striker became the first MLS player to reach the 28-goal mark in a season, and did so with eight matches left in the regular season. With Atlanta United currently leading the Supporters' Shield race, and expected to challenge for the MLS Cup title, Martinez could finish at the top of this list if he can keep scoring goals and help Atlanta United secure a piece of silverware or two.
  2. #9 Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC, 2015

    Toronto FC didn't win a single trophy in 2015, but the lack of silverware can't keep Giovinco's dominating 2015 season off this list. The Italian magician posted a whopping 22 goals and 16 assists in his first season in MLS, winning the Golden Boot and MLS MVP honors. TFC's early exit from the playoffs and lack of trophies keep Giovinco from being higher on this list, but there's no arguing against the fact his 2015 campaign was one of the best regular seasons in league history.
  3. #8 Roy Lassiter, Tampa Bay Mutiny, 1996

    While Carlos Valderrama won the MLS MVP award in 1996, Lassiter gets the nod over his teammate on the all-time seasons list for his combined excellence in the regular season and playoffs. He scored 27 goals, a single-season record that has stood for 22 years, and scored six more goals in the playoffs. He and Valderrama helped the Mutiny win the Supporters' Shield title that season.
  4. #7 Marco Etcheverry, D.C. United, 1998

    D.C. United owns three of the first four MLS Cup titles, but their best team was arguably the 1998 team. Etcheverry led that team to CONCACAF Champions Cup title. He finished with 10 goals and 19 assists, propelling D.C. to the MLS Cup final, where DCU lost to the Chicago Fire. He was named MLS MVP that season, beating out Peter Nowak.
  5. #6 Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes, 2012

    You can make a very good case for Wondolowski posting the best regular season in MLS history in 2012, a year that will be remembered for San Jose's penchant for comeback wins. Wondolowski led the way, tying the MLS record for goals in a season with 27, while setting a new mark with an incredible 11 game-winning goals. The Earthquakes won the Supporters' Shield, though a surprising first-round playoff exit keeps Wondolowski from being higher on this list.
  6. #5 Peter Nowak, Chicago Fire, 1998

    While other attacking midfielders have put together bigger statistical seasons, no MLS midfielder ever lead their team to more silverware in a season than Nowak did with the Fire in 1998. He finished with six goals and 12 assists, but the Polish star's leadership and combination of creativity and tenacity set the tone for a Fire team that won the MLS Cup title and U.S. Open Cup title in its expansion season.
  7. #4 Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy, 2014

    Robbie Keane had one of the best MLS careers in league history, and his finest campaign took place in 2014, when he helped lead the Galaxy to the MLS Cup title, the team's third title in four seasons. Keane registered 19 goals and 14 assists, adding two goals and three assists in the playoffs. He picked up the MLS MVP award along the way, and capped the year by scoring the game-winning goal in the MLS Cup final.
  8. #3 Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus Crew, 2008

    The 2008 Crew enjoyed one of the most dominant seasons in league history, and Schelotto was the driving force behind their attack. The 35-year-old playmaker recorded seven goals and a league-leading 19 assists, and continued to dominate in the playoffs, registering six assists during the Crew's run to the MLS Cup title. The Crew also won the Supporters' Shield that season.
  9. #2 Tony Meola, Kansas City Wizards, 2000

    No goalkeeper in MLS history has ever had as dominant a season as Meola, who was a human wall for a Kansas City side that won the MLS Cup-Supporters' Shield double. He recorded a league-record 16 shutouts, and allowed just 29 goals in 31 matches. He was even better in the playoffs, recording five shutouts in seven matches, including a 10-save effort in a 1-0 MLS Cup final win against the Chicago Fire.
  10. #1 Carlos Ruiz, LA Galaxy, 2002

    For all the big names to pass through MLS, none ever had a better season than the 22-year-old Guatemalan striker known as 'Pescadito'. Ruiz was an unstoppable force in 2002, scoring 24 regular season goals before delivering eight more goals in the playoffs. The last of those was the extra-time winner in the 2002 MLS Cup final. The Galaxy also won the Supporters' Shield, and came within a U.S. Open Cup final loss of securing a treble.