Top 10 xG leaders in the 2023 MLS season

As stats are more present than ever in soccer, the 2023 Major League Soccer season saw some players over-perform their expected goals (xG) tally, while others could’ve been more clinical in front of goal.

For those who see xG as a foreign term, it’s a tool used to calculate how many goals a player or team should’ve scored given the quality of chances they had that is based on similar chances scored/taken by other players in the past. It’s become quite popular in the past half-decade, with teams slowly starting to rely on xG as well as other forms of data in their recruitment processes.

The xG leaders from the 2023 MLS season tallied shots and chances from the beginning of the regular season all the way to the final whistle of MLS Cup, when Columbus Crew derailed LAFC’s attempt of going back-to-back as MLS Cup winners with a 2-1 triumph.

Speaking of the three-time MLS Cup winning Crew, their talisman Cucho Hernandez led all MLS players with an xG of 25 during the regular season and playoffs. Hernandez ended up with 21 goals (seven penalties) at the end of the season and therefore under-performed, but he still showed out at an exceptional level in his first full season in the league

On the other hand, Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga just couldn’t stop scoring and over-performed his xG tally by amassing 25 goals (four penalties) with just 16.9 xG. This is hardly breaking news as we’ve seen Bouanga finish off so many chances from wide angles, which is why he was able to score more than he probably should’ve.

2023 Newcomer of the Year winner Giorgos Giakoumakis over-performed his xG (14.8)as well, netting 19 times for Atlanta United in his first season in MLS. MLS MVP winner Lucho Acosta stole the show in 2023 and found the back of the net 19 times (seven penalties) while racking up an xG of just 13.1.

Rank

Player

xG Accumulated

Actual Goals Scored

1

Cucho Hernandez (Columbus Crew)

25

21

2

Denis Bouanga (LAFC)

16.9

25

3

Christian Benteke (DC United)

16.4

14

4

Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps)

16.2

16

5

Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union)

15.1

15

6

Giorgos Giakoumakis (Atlanta United)

14.8

19

7

Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)

14.5

15

8

Ryan Gauld (VancouverWhitecaps)

14.1

11

9

Lucho Acosta (FC Cincinnati)

13.1

19

10

Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Minnesota United)

13.1

8

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