Former T&T World Cup striker and leading all-time goalscorer Stern John has been listed as the fourth-best striker when it comes to efficiency in front of goal in US Major League Soccer history.
In an article written on mlssoccer.com earlier this week, it was asked based on data collected: Who’s the most efficient goalscorer in MLS history?.
And in reply Atlanta United striker, Venezuela’s Josef Martinez, a perennial contender in the Golden Boot race presented by Audi, was listed as the most clinical finisher in MLS history.
Martinez tops the list at the most efficient goalscorers in the league’s quarter-century, having found net 77 times in 84 regular-season games.
Those in consideration had to register at least 40 goals throughout their career, with their conversion rate expressed as goals/shots on goal.
Martinez led the way with a 55.80 per cent conversion rate, while Toronto FC and USA men’s national team forward Jozy Altidore (51.08 per cent) and ex-Seattle Sounders forward, Nigerian Obafemi Martins (50 per cent) completed the top three strikers.
Fourth on the “Top Ten” list was John, now 43, who enjoyed two successful campaigns with Columbus Crew from 1998-1999 scoring 55 goals in 70 matches in all competitions.
The Tunapuna-born John initially moved to the USA to attend Mercer County Community College in 1995 joined Columbus Crew from the now-defunct Riverboat Gamblers of the A-League for the 1998 season, on the recommendation of his older cousin, and Columbus Crew defender and fellow T&T international, Ansil Elcock.
John would reward the “Crew” in taking up the advice of Elcock to offer him a try-out as he became one of the most prolific scorers in league history. In 1998, John led the league with 26 goals from 27 matches, a record that currently puts him tied for fifth in MLS for goals in one season, and also with 57 points to be named the MLS Scoring Champion.
He was named to the MLS Best XI that year as well, and tied for the lead with 18 goals in the 1999 season that followed.
During his two-year spell with the Crew John also netted three US Open Cup goals in five matches, and added another eight from ten matches in other competitions.
This after he had brief after spells with US A-League clubs, Caronlina Dynamos (1997) and New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers (1997), in which he netted a combined 16 goals in 31 matches.
Reflecting on his MLS stint, John said, “ I remembered it like it was just yesterday and being able to rob shoulders from some of the players I did back then was a great achievement.
“Over my playing career I never questioned my ability as a player or potential to score goals and to still be up there in terms of efficiency with the best of them shows how effective I was and my worth.”
“ I also believe that what stood out for me during my career was my ability to be a consistent scorer during my time in the MLS,” stated John.
Among the other players named to the “Most Efficient Top Ten” list was D.C. United forward Ola Kamara of Norway, the only other active player apart from Martinez, while two MLS off-season departures – Yugoslavia-born Hungarian Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago Fire) and Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) – are also included.
Some all-time greats who made the cut included ex-Galaxy captain, Ireland’s Robbie Keane, and Real Salt Lake legend Alvaro Saborio of Costa Rica.
Canadian Cyle Larin’s three stellar years with Orlando City SC, before his move to Turkish club Besiktas, also merited inclusion.
Following his stint in the MLS, John was acquired by Nottingham Forest of the English First Division for a fee of £1.5 million in 1999 to set off his English professional career.
However, eventual financial difficulties at Forest following the team’s failed bid at promotion forced John’s sale to Birmingham City in February 2002, then pushing for promotion to the Premier League, for the sum of £100,000, but not before he scored 20 goals in 80 appearances for Forest.
For his outstanding season with club and country, John was also named T&T o Football Federation Player of the Year in 2002.
He then had stints at Birmingham City (First Division/Premier League), Coventry City (Championship Division), Derby County (Championship Division), Sunderland (Championship Division/Premier League), Southampton (Championship Division), Bristol City (Championship Division), Crystal Palace (Championship Division) and Ipswich Town (Championship Division) before returning to club football in his native Trinidad with North East Stars in 2011/2012.
Internationally, John who made his international debut February 15, 1995, against Finland in a Friendly match at the Queen’s Park Oval, is the Soca Warriors all-time leading scorer with 70 goals in 115 caps, and is the joint 15th highest international goalscorer according to the list of top international association football goal scorers by country level with Argentina’s Lionel Messi (70/138), Thailand’s Piyapong Pue-on (70/100) and Egyptian Hossam Hassan (70/169), behind a list that is topped by
Iran’s Ali Daei who has 109 goals from 149 matches tops the list followed by Portugal’s Cristian Ronaldo (99/164), Hungary’s Ferenc Puskás (84./85), Zambia’s Godfrey Chitalu 79/11 and Brazil legend Pele who has 77 goals from 92 appearances.
John, who was instrumental in helping T&T qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany where he played in all three group matches is also the all-time top Concacaf goal scorer ahead of American duo, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan both with 57 goals, but from 141 and 157 matches respectively.
John is also the second most capped T&T international with 115 appearances, two behind former teammate Angus Eve (117) and is the only player to score in 12 consecutive international matches, from 1998 to 1999.
1998: MLS Scoring Champion
1998: MLS Golden Boot
1998: MLS Best XI
2002: English Football Division 1 play-offs winner’s medal
2002: T&T Football Federation Player of the Year
2007: English Championship Division winners’ medal with Sunderland