FC Dallas striker Jeff Cunningham and D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno are tied for most goals scored in MLS history with 132 apiece.
With Moreno suspended for United’s tilt with the Chicago Fire on Saturday, Cunningham has a golden opportunity to take the lead outright in the race to be all-time scoring leader.
With such an historic occasion looming, we take a look at the numbers behind these two extraordinary careers. While stats aren’t the answer to the ultimate question—which player is better?—they do provide plenty of ammunition for United and Hoops fans to sling at each other in an attempt to find out.
During the regular season, Cunningham is by far the more dangerous scorer. Though the 34-year-old Hoops striker has made three more career appearances than Moreno, he has actually compiled 3,653 fewer minutes. Cunningham, in essence, has scored a goal every 167 minutes over the course of his career; Moreno tallies at a rate of approximately once every 195 minutes.
And while Cunningham has only 19 penalty-kick goals, Moreno has 43. In fact, about a third of the Bolivian’s goals have come from the spot.
Ultimately, though, the only stat that matters is wins. Cunningham has 39 game-winning goals to his credit, 13 more than Moreno.
Moreno, though, clearly has the more impressive playoff résumé. To be fair, Moreno has played 12 more playoff games than Cunningham. But, regardless, the United legend has scored a goal every 235 minutes, as compared to Cunningham’s rate of one every 345 minutes. In other words, Moreno scores about 32 percent more often in the playoffs than Cunningham—certainly a factor in the Bolivian’s 4-0 edge in MLS Cup titles.
Now what if you include assists? Who has had the biggest overall impact?
Just brushing the surface, it’s Moreno in a stroll with 33 more assists than Cunningham. (Incidentally, Moreno is the only player in MLS history to post triple digits in both goals and assists.)
But remember, Moreno has played more minutes than Cunningham. Moreno has tallied a goal or an assist every 109 minutes, 53 seconds of regular-season play. Cunningham has a point every 109 minutes, 44 seconds. That means that on average, Cunningham has provided a goal for his team—either with a goal of his own or an assist—about nine seconds quicker than Moreno.
Cunningham also holds the regular-season edge over Moreno in so-called game-winning points, with five more game-winning goals or assists. But add in the postseason, and you find that the players have exactly the same number of game-winning points over the course of their careers.
So who’s better? Who knows. The stats are no more conclusive than any one person’s opinion could be. But the numbers do prove one thing: Both of these players deserve a tip of the hat for the remarkable success they’ve had in MLS for more than a decade.