New generation of strikers leading race for Golden Boot
Fifteen games into the 2014-2015 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) season, the race for the Golden Boot gets tighter and more interesting each week.
Last season's top marksman, Brian Brown, has moved on to US Major League Soccer. However, his main challengers from last term, Devon Hodges (also last season's MVP), Sporting Central's François Swaby and Waterhouse's Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson, have all failed to hit the form of the previous year.
Other forwards have emerged, including the likes of Reno's Craig Foster, Rivoli's new sensation Cory Burke, Boys' Town's Rafiek Thomas, Ranique Muir of Harbour View and Montego Bay United's Allan Ottey, to set the pace for this year's top-scorer honour.
Reno's Foster (23) has led the league in goals from the earliest rounds. The former national Under-20 striker ended the first round on 10 goals, three more than his nearest challenger, Burke. However, since netting a hat-trick to help his team beat Montego Bay United to lift the Flow Cup KO title 4-3, the Westmoreland club has struggled in the league and has not won in six games, while Foster has netted just once during that time, though he still leads with 11 strikes.
Breathing closely down Foster's neck is Rivoli's new star, Cory Burke, who stayed in touching distance of the Reno man throughout the first round, ending his first 11 games with seven goals, just three behind Foster.
goals tallying up
The lanky and dynamic 22-year-old has already added two goals to his tally in the second round and he was in devastating form last time out against Tivoli, in which he scored the opener. He will no doubt continue to be a major threat along with main strike partner, Kemar Beckford, who also has five for the Spanish Town club.
Before this term, Rafiek Thomas (the only member of the new brigade over 25) never surpassed eight goals in a Premier League season. He had a fairly normal start to this season as well, with just three goals in the first round. However, a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Sporting Central at the start of the second round seems to have greatly boosted the 30-year-old who has added two more since
then to take his tally to eight.
Harbour View's Ranique Muir (25) has been the main provider of goals for the Stars of the East with seven already this season. But he has gone off the boil a bit in the second round and must regain his touch in front of goal if he intends to compete for the award.
Allan Ottey always promised much since his schoolboy days at St James High. But although he has been very important to Montego Bay United's success, he has not always been the main man, as Dino Williams and Omar Gordon show more consistency.
However, this season, the 22-year-old has led the charge for the champions with seven goals already (his best ever haul in the Premier League), along with Bahamian Lesley St Fleur and Dino Williams with five goals.
team picked up
Montego Bay and Ottey started slowly but the team has picked up in recent weeks and now leads the standings. Ottey has scored in three consecutive games from round 11 to 13, which puts him joint fourth on the scorers chart on seven with Muir.
Last season, 'Tuffy' departed the league midway the season atop the goalscoring chart with six. This season, he has six so far, and although the big striker is yet to hit best form, he is always a threat and should be in the running for the golden boot as usual.
Swaby (five goals) had 14 goals to finish third in the goalscoring race last season. But although Sporting Central are expected struggle again, Swaby is their most reliable scorer and his goals will be crucial if they are to remain in the league..
Meanwhile, Devon Hodges, who finished second and a goal fewer than Brown with 17 goals last season, moved from Rivoli to Humble Lion in the off-season but his form has been wretched since the move and he has just two goals so far.
However, with more than half the season to go and a lot of games still to play, it will be interesting to see the twists and turns remaining as the race for the Golden Boot heats up.
RSPL's leading scorers 2014-15
Harbour View's Ranique Muir.
MoBay United's Allan Ottey.
Reno's Craig Foster.
Boys' Town's Rafiek Thomas.