5 Best MLS Forwards Right Now: Hany Mukhtar Joins Lionel Messi Atop The List

Inter Miami Are The Third Biggest Franchise In MLS
Inter Miami Are The Third Biggest Franchise In MLS

Major League Soccer (MLS) has never had a shortage of fine forwards. From Jaime Moreno to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, renowned attackers have chosen the American top-flight time and again to showcase their ingenious movement and ruthless finishing, taking the league’s entertainment quotient to new heights.

We are happy to report that the current crop of MLS stars is proudly carrying on the tradition, entertaining fans with memorable goals and scintillating assists every Gameweek. Today we will take a look at the best forwards in MLS right now and see how they stack up against one another. Now, without further ado, let’s get to it!

#5 Luciano Acosta – FC Cincinnati

Luciano Acosta Is One Of The Best Forwards In MLS
Luciano Acosta Is One Of The Best Forwards In MLS

Originally an attacking midfielder, FC Cincinnati ace Luciano Acosta possesses the versatility to operate also as a center-forward and a second-striker, which makes him rather difficult to neutralize.

Since joining from Atlas in March 2021, Acosta has been Cincinnati’s key creator as well as scorer. Over the course of the 2023 MLS campaign, the 29-year-old Argentine has not only showcased his finishing ability but also his creativity. Appearing in 22 games, he has scored 12 times and provided six assists, emerging as his team’s best player. If Acosta keeps it up, it will not be surprising to see Cincinnati give their star man a contract extension in due time.

#4 Carlos Vela – Los Angeles FC

Carlos Vela Is One Of MLS's Best Forwards
Carlos Vela Is One Of MLS’s Best Players

Carlos Vela has not been at his best this season, but we simply cannot overlook his legendary career and his ability to conjure something extraordinary out of the mundane.

The 34-year-old Mexican right-winger has featured in 23 MLS games over the course of the current campaign, scoring eight times and providing four assists. The Los Angeles (LAFC) skipper also scored twice in his team’s 7-1 win over FC Juarez in the first round of the Leagues Cup.

Vela, who sees his LAFC contract expire at the end of December this year, has appeared in 171 games for his current employers in all competitions (joined in January 2018), scoring 92 times and providing 50 assists.

#3 Denis Bouanga – Los Angeles FC

Denis Bouanga Is One Of MLS' Best Forwards Right Now
Denis Bouanga Of LAFC

Denis Bouanga has emerged as one of MLS’ best players since joining Los Angeles FC (LAFC) from St. Etienne in August 2022. The French left-winger has impressed onlookers with his blistering pace, commendable link-up play, and intelligence in front of the goal.

Since the start of the current MLS campaign, Bouanga has taken part in 21 games, scoring 12 times and providing three assists. He has also left a mark on the Leagues Cup campaign this season, scoring a hat-trick in a 7-1 victory over FC Juarez in the first round.

#2 Hany Mukhtar – Nashville SC

Hany Mukhtar Is One Of MLS' Best Forwards
Hany Mukhtar Of Nashville SC

Given the form that he has been in since the start of the 2023 MLS season, picking Hany Mukhtar was a no-brainer. The Nashville FC striker has scored for fun in the American premier division, leading the goalscoring charts with 13 strikes in 24 appearances. He has also shown his creative side this season, claiming seven assists in MLS.

As per Infogol, the 28-year-old striker averages an impressive 3.84 shots per game, with around 1.53 of landing on target. If Mukhtar manages to maintain his scintillating form, he could be on his way to claiming his second Golden Boot and MLS MVP Award (after the 2021-22 season) at the end of the campaign.

#1 Lionel Messi – Inter Miami

Lionel Messi Is MLS' Best Forward Right Now
Lionel Messi Inter Miami

Although Lionel Messi has not yet played an official MLS match yet, he has already shown fans what they can expect from him in the coming weeks. The 36-year-old superstar has appeared in four Leagues Cup matches for Inter Miami since joining them in July, scoring in all of them.

He marked his debut by scoring the winner from a free-kick in a 2-1 victory over Cruz Azul. The following two games saw him bag consecutive braces against Atlanta United and Orlando City. And finally, on his last outing, he helped the Herons to a stunning round-of-16 shootout win over FC Dallas.

He scored the opener in the sixth minute and then bagged the equalizer from a flawless free-kick in the 85th minute. After the game finished 4-4 at the end of injury time, he converted the first penalty in the shootout, giving his team the perfect start. Miami sealed a 5-3 victory in the shootout and booked a place in the quarter-finals, where they will meet Charlotte FC.

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