The MLS fountain of youth is dipped in goals in the early part of 2024

The 2024 Major League Soccer season is well completing its second month this weekend, and we’ve already seen a lot of excitement from the league’s 29 teams. We’ve seen incredible goals and amazing moments, where the stars have shined when the lights are brightest.

The movement recently has been for teams to sign younger talent that they believe could turn into stars, foregoing for the most part the aging stars from European teams looking for one last payday before they hang up their cleats. However, it’s the older stars that have consistently put the ball in the back of the net so far this season.

MLS: D.C. United at New York City FC

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When you look at the 12 players who have scored the most goals so far in 2024, you don’t see a ton of youth. You see players either in their prime or approaching their career end. Real Salt Lake’s Cristian Arango (29 years old) and DC United’s Christian Benteke (33) are among five players who lead MLS with six goals so far this season. Five players are tied for eighth place with four goals, so there are a ton of players who are contributing and the race for the Golden Boot is close.

However, when you look at the ages of the players in the top 12, there’s not a lot of youth present. Eight of the top 12 players in the Golden Boot race are 26 or older:

  • Cristian Arango, Real Salt Lake – 29
  • Christian Benteke, DC United – 33
  • Dejan Joveljic, LA Galaxy – 24
  • Lewis Morgan, New York Red Bulls – 27
  • Luis Suarez, Inter Miami – 37
  • Giorgos Giakoumakis, Atlanta United – 29
  • Lionel Messi, Inter Miami – 36
  • Julian Carranza, Philadelphia Union – 23
  • Evander, Portland Timbers – 25
  • Daniel Gazdag, Philadelphia Union – 28
  • Rafael Navarro, Colorado Rapids – 24
  • Raul Ruidiaz, Seattle Sounders – 33

Only Joveljic, Carranza, Evander, and Navarro are age 25 or younger on this list, and it shows that while the league really covets those stars, the world shouldn’t be placed upon their shoulders. Inter Miami, for example, counts nine Homegrown Players on their roster.

MLS: FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids forward Rafael Navarro (9) is one of youngest players among the pack for the MLS Golden Boot race.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Still, the younger players seem to be deferring on the field to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on offense and relying heavily on Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba on defense to lead the way.

That could soon change. Younger players notoriously take a bit longer to come along as teams remain patient with them in an effort to gradually introduce them to the rigors of the league. As they gain experience, they eventually step up their production. However, the 2024 season is proving that there’s still room in this league for the established gem, and while their career may be starting to fade, the older stars still have enough power to shine bright in Major League Soccer and offer production that can help their teams be successful.

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