The 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is finally upon us and although plenty of the attention will be on the fight for the final playoff spots, the Golden Boot race remains very much active heading into Sunday’s action.
NYCFC II’s Matthew Myers and Orlando City B’s Jack Lynn are currently tied with 18 goals apiece atop the list heading into Decision Day involvement. Myers has helped keep NYCFC II in the race for an Eastern Conference playoff spot while Lynn has been influential in OCB clinching their playoff spot earlier this month.
Colorado Rapids 2 attacker Rémi Cabral and ATL UTD 2 forward Nicolas Firmino are also alive in the race to win the Golden Boot, but will need strong performances on Sunday to edge in front of Myers and Lynn. Cabral and Firmino are tied with 16 goals apiece and are both riding strong individual form heading into Decision Day.
Here is a closer look at the Golden Boot race and who to watch for on Decision Day:
Matthew "MD" Myers - NYCFC II
NYCFC II is still seeking to clinch a playoff berth on Decision Day, which could mean a heroic performance is needed from Matthew Myers.
Myers, 22, has 18 goals this season for Matt Pilkington’s squad, starring in his MLS NEXT Pro debut campaign. A former Rutgers University standout in 2022, Myers has risen to the occasion in 2023.
His 2,364 minutes played are the fifth-most in MLS NEXT Pro, and the most by any NYCFC II player this season. Myers has also added four assists this season, which are the second-most out of the four leading Golden Boot chasers.
Jack Lynn - Orlando City B
Jack Lynn enjoyed plenty of individual success in 2022 and has carried that over to 2023 for Orlando City B.
Lynn has continued to shine for OCB this season, helping Martin Perelman’s squad clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot. He has started in 18 of his 25 appearances for OCB in 2023, scoring on 48% of his shots on target to date.
A former University of Notre Dame standout, Lynn’s second-straight impressive season could warrant him a bigger first-team role in 2024.
Rémi Cabral - Colorado Rapids 2
If anyone has an outside chance to capture the MLS NEXT Pro Golden Boot, it’s Rémi Cabral.
Out of these four players, Cabral has played the fewest matches this season, making 19 appearances to date for Colorado Rapids 2. The brother of Rapids attacker Kevin, Rémi has scored 16 goals and added one assist for Erik Bushey’s squad.
Most importantly, Cabral has scored four goals in his last three appearances, which have all helped lead to victories for Rapids 2. His blistering run of form could be what pushes him into the No. 1 spot by Sunday’s conclusion.
Nick Firmino - ATL UTD 2
ATL UTD 2 only have pride to play for in Sunday’s season finale, but Nick Firmino will be hoping for a stellar showing against Columbus Crew 2.
Firmino has been one of the leading attacking stars in MLS NEXT Pro this season, contributing 16 goals and five assists for ATL UTD 2. A creative and dynamic midfielder/forward, Firmino made his Five Stripes debut back in June, scoring in a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
Firmino originally featured for New England Revolution II in 2020 before joining USL side Union Omaha in 2021.
The 22-year-old has a bright future in front of him, but first will be seeking a Golden Boot award to end his breakout campaign on a high note.