Jeff Cunningham

Jeff Cunningham (born August 21, 1976) is an American soccer player. He is Major League Soccer's third-all-time leader in regular-season goals scored with 134.

Jeff Cunningham
Cunningham training with the Columbus Crew in 2011
Personal information
Full name Jeff Cunningham
Date of birth (1976-08-21) August 21, 1976
Place of birth Montego Bay, Jamaica
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position Forward
Youth career
1994–1997 South Florida Bulls
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1998–2004 Columbus Crew 182 (62)
2005 Colorado Rapids 26 (12)
2006–2007 Real Salt Lake 38 (19)
2007–2008 Toronto FC 32 (6)
2008–2010 FC Dallas 66 (33)
2011 Columbus Crew 21 (2)
2012 Comunicaciones 12 (4)
2012 San Antonio Scorpions 8 (1)
Total 385 (139)
National team
1999 Jamaica 1 (0)
2001–2010 United States 14 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of March 18, 2013
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of March 18, 2013

Youth and college

Cunningham was born in Jamaica, but moved to Crystal River, Florida at the age of fourteen. He played college soccer at the University of South Florida from 1994 to 1997. As a sophomore and a junior, Cunningham was named first-team All-Conference USA, and as a senior he was named Conference USA Player of the Year. He finished his career at USF with forty-one goals and thirty-six assists.



Upon graduating, Cunningham was selected ninth overall in the 1998 MLS College Draft by the Columbus Crew. As a rookie, he played in twenty-five games, mostly as a substitute, and tied the rookie record for goals (since broken by Damani Ralph) with eight. Cunningham became a starter in 1999 and held that role for several years. In 182 games for Columbus, he scored sixty-two goals and notched forty-three assists. He was named to the MLS Best XI in 2002, after scoring sixteen goals and adding five assists. After a disappointing 2004 season Cunningham was traded to Colorado Rapids for a first-round 2006 MLS SuperDraft pick.[1] He left the Crew tied with Brian McBride for the all-time team lead in goals.

Cunningham finished the 2005 season with twelve league goals for Colorado. He scored twice against Fulham F.C. of the Premier League in the 2005 MLS All-Star Game. His showing in an all-star game against Real Madrid also earned good reviews, despite MLS's 5–0 loss. However, after the year Colorado shipped him to Real Salt Lake for Clint Mathis.[2] Cunningham was seventh on the all-time MLS goalscoring list entering the 2006 season.

During the 2006 season Cunningham led the league in scoring with sixteen goals, winning the MLS Golden Boot. He also tied for the second-most assists in the league with eleven. Both totals (16 goals and 11 assists) set single-season records for the RSL franchise.

On May 22, 2007, Cunningham was dealt to Toronto FC in exchange for Alecko Eskandarian and a first-round draft pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft.[3] In Toronto, he wore the number 96 to represent the 96 MLS goals he had scored after the conclusion of his first season with Toronto FC.[4]

Cunningham fell out of favor in his second season with Toronto FC, missing scoring a goal line ball that would have taken Toronto to the CONCACAF Champions League. After the match, TFC coach John Carver said "I am thinking, ‘How did he score 99 goals?’ That’s what I thought.’"[5]

On August 8, 2008, Cunningham was traded to FC Dallas in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.[6] He scored in his first match with FC Dallas on August 16, 2008 in a 2–1 loss to the Columbus Crew. It was Cunningham's 100th goal in MLS. Jeff played in 11 games with FC Dallas during the 2008 season scoring 5 goals.

Cunningham scored 17 goals in 2009, including four goals on August 1 against the Kansas City Wizards. After Kenny Cooper left the club for 1860 Munich, Cunningham emerged as the team's go-to goal scorer. He netted seven goals in five games in September, winning MLS Player of the Month and went on to win the 2009 MLS Golden Boot.[7] Cunningham ended the 2010 season as the #2 career regular season MLS goalscorer with 132 goals.

After the 2010 MLS season FC Dallas declined Cunningham's contract option and Cunningham elected to participate in the 2010 MLS Re-Entry Draft. On December 15, 2010 Cunningham was selected by Columbus Crew in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry draft.[8] Prior to Columbus resigning him on January 28, 2011, Cunningham trained with Norwegian Premier League club IK Start and was rumored to be in talks for a permanent move,[9] however no trade came to pass. His return to Columbus Crew was on February 22, 2011 in the second half of the Crew's CONCACAF Champions League quarter final game against Real Salt Lake.[10] On July 7, 2011, Cunningham scored his 133rd career MLS Goal to tie the MLS All-Time Scoring Record. The goal came in the 90th minute on a header to win a game against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC by a score of 1–0.[11] On August 27, 2011, Cunningham scored his 134th career goal, making him the all-time leader in MLS soccer in a 6–2 loss to the Seattle Sounders.

At season's end, Columbus declined his 2012 contract option and he entered the 2011 MLS Re-Entry Draft. Cunningham was not selected in the draft and became a free agent. In January 2012, Cunningham signed on with first division side and current runner up CSD Comunicaciones of Guatemala for the 2012 Torneo Clausura.[12]

After his release by Comunicaciones, Cunningham signed with NASL club San Antonio Scorpions FC on July 23, 2012.[13]

As of November 29, 2013, Cunningham is on trial with Vicem Hai Phong F.C. of Vietnam's V.League 1.[14]


In 1999, he played for Jamaica in a friendly international against Ghana. Cunningham became a U.S. citizen in November 2001, and received his first cap for the United States national team less than a month later, on December 9, in a friendly against South Korea. He made his first start in a World Cup qualifier on September 7, 2005, against Guatemala.

After a 4-year-long absence from the national team, Cunningham was called up by Bob Bradley for friendlies against Slovakia and Denmark in November 2009. In a friendly against Denmark on November 18, 2009, he scored his first career international goal.[15]

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
01. November 18, 2009 NRGi Park, Aarhus, Denmark  Denmark 1 – 0 1–3 Friendly


Jeff and his wife, Jocelyn have one child, Mikayla, born on September 15, 2008.[16]

Cunningham became a naturalized U.S. citizen on November 13, 2001.[2]

Career statistics


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
1998Columbus CrewMajor League Soccer258312000309
2005Colorado Rapids26121031003013
2006Real Salt Lake31162100003317
Canada League Voyageurs Cup League Cup North America Total
2007Toronto FCMajor League Soccer163000000163
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
2008FC DallasMajor League Soccer115000000115
2011Columbus Crew212101000232
Guatemala League Cup League Cup North America Total
2011–12ComunicacionesLiga Nacional124000000124
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
2012San Antonio ScorpionsNASL8100000081
Total USA 34112920623500384140
Canada 326400000366
Guatemala 124000000124
Career total 38513924623500432150

Updated September 25, 2012


National teamYearAppsGoals
United States

Statistics accurate as of February 16, 2012



Columbus Crew
FC Dallas
  • Major League Soccer Western Conference Championship: 2010


  • MLS Golden Boot Winner: 2006, 2009
  • MLS Best XI: 2002, 2006, 2009


  1. "Rapids Acquire Veteran Striker Jeff Cunningham in Trade With Crew". June 27, 2010.
  2. "Mathis traded for Cunningham".
  3. Polishuk, Mark (May 22, 2007). "TFC get their man in Cunningham". Archived from the original on March 27, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  4. Sandor, Steven (May 30, 2007). "Strike force shows signs of life". Retrieved May 30, 2007.
  5. Johnston, Ryan (July 23, 2008). "Carver calls out Cunningham after tie". Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  6. "FCD sign Sikora, acquire Cunningham". FC Dallas. August 8, 2008. Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved August 8, 2008.
  7. "Seattle 2–1 Dallas: Hoops' playoff hopes dashed". ESPN. October 25, 2009. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  8. "Latest News". Archived from the original on December 19, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  9. "Cunningham working out with IK Start". January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  10. Craig Merz (February 22, 2011). "Crew, RSL finish scoreless in testy CCL opener". Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  11. "July 7, 2011 Jeff ties the goal record". July 6, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  12. "Gringo Report: Cunningham signs deal in Guatemala". January 23, 2012.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 26, 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "MLS record goalscorer on trial in Vietnam -".
  15. "Denmark 3–1 U.S.: Second-half surge for Danes". ESPN. November 18, 2009. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  16. "Players | FC Dallas". October 27, 2011. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2011.

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