Daniel Salloi eyes Golden Boot race amid career year

Daniel Salloi is honest.

The Sporting Kansas City winger is enjoying a career year, with 12 goals and six assists for his high-flying club procuring a spot in Wednesday night's MLS All-Star Game presented by Target (8:30 p.m. CT | FS1, Univision). He’s also firmly in the conversation for finishing as 2021's MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi winner.

And he’s not going to lie: He’s keeping tabs on that race.

“I do,” Salloi told MLSsoccer.com when asked if he checks the Golden Boot standings. “It’s nice to stay in the top five because you’re always in the conversation and anything can happen.”

Salloi is currently tied for second with Gustavo Bou (New England), trailing Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle) by two. Ola Kamara (D.C. United) is next with 11 goals, while superstar Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez (LA Galaxy) and Adam Buksa (New England) are tied for fifth with 10.

“These guys are unreal, they can get a brace or hat tricks out of nowhere,” Salloi said. “I remember watching the Seattle-Portland game and I went to get food for like 20 minutes. I came back to two more goals for Seattle, both Ruidiaz and I was like, ‘This guy!’ So this is how it is really to go for the Golden Boot race. But it’s been great, I’m having fun and I hope I can keep it up for the rest of the season.”

Salloi, a Sporting homegrown, made his MLS debut in 2017 then broke out in 2018, leading the team in goals with 11. The next two years were a bit of a struggle, with just one goal and one assist across 35 appearances (17 starts), but he’s back on track in 2021.

He doesn’t have a big change to point to or some epiphany. The goals just started going in again.

“Honestly, it’s a big question for me too,” Salloi said. “It’s not like I changed lots of things in my career right now, but it’s working and I always say as an attacking player, you start scoring goals and they just keep coming and coming and that’s how I feel right now. Confidence all the way through the roof and not afraid to take shots and to get into any situation, so it’s been great and obviously it helps me that the team’s doing well so I can get into those positions.”

Salloi’s stellar Sporting form earned him a call-up to Hungary's national team for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. He represented his country at various youth levels and was called in for a senior camp in 2018, but is yet to make his debut.

Chasing the Golden Boot, Sporting sitting second in the Western Conference standings, an All-Star debut and a return to the national team? Not a bad few months for Salloi.

“It’s been great,” Salloi said. “Obviously very happy with how everything’s going. It’s been a great season for me and [I’m happy to] top it off with an All-Star appearance. I’m super happy I was selected by the coach and I’m very excited to play with these guys. I think they’re all great players, so it’s nice to play with them, be on the same field."

Salloi has indeed gotten Landon Donovan MLS MVP buzz as well, with his 18 combined goal contributions the most in the league. Revs midfielder Carles Gil is second in that category with 17 (two goals, 15 assists). With Sporting enjoying success near the top of the West, he’s firmly in the conversation.

“When the voting started and my name popped up many times and I saw that many people mentioned me, not just Sporting KC fans, I think that’s when I started believing in it that I could actually be in it," Salloi said of his All-Star nod. "I kept scoring goals and then I was kind of expecting it in a way that I hoped they recognized my work as well. This is kind of that recognition. And I think you need so much to win MVP to win Golden Boot, those things.”

While he’s eyeing the MVP charge, Salloi isn’t too focused on it – yet.

“Obviously there’s many months left,” Salloi said. “Ask me the last three games of the season and then I can say if I’m in the MVP conversation or not.”