We are just past the mid-point of Major League Soccer’s 19th season. Which makes it time to begin exploring (read: arguing about) the league’s showcase awards. Foremost, as always, is Major League’s Soccer’s Most Valuable Player:
My pick: the LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane.
With 23 goals over the last two seasons, only Chris Wondolowski has more in MLS during that time. Of course, that’s no shocker, is it? The Irish international is a goal scorer’s goal scorer, isn’t he?
So you may be surprised to know that Keane leads MLS in assists today. He has eight to go along with seven goals. If you add goals and assists, Keane has contributed directly to 15 Galaxy goals. Only Vancouver’s Camilo (13) and Chicago Mike Magee (also 13) are close.
Significantly for Keane, his numbers have been supplied in just 11 matches.
His overall contributions on the attack (along with Magee’s, too, before the trade to Chicago) kept the Galaxy near the head of the Western Conference class while Landon Donovan got himself together. Keane’s movement off the ball continues to represent the gold standard for MLS strikers.
He’ll miss another match here and there for World Cup qualifiers, but hopefully Keane is past the minor injuries that kept him off the field some in the late spring.
My top picks for second: Will Johnson, and Magee with an asterisk
Johnson has been the heart and soul of Portland’s revival this year under first-year pro manager Caleb Porter. Johnson is the team’s midfield engine, its brain between the white lines and its leader as captain. I posted a story earlier this week on what Portland lost when their Canadian captain stepped out of the starting lineup for the first time this year on Sunday.
No player appears more valuable to their club. And since Portland is having such a swell season, stylistically and in terms of bottom-line performance, Johnson has to be in the MVP conversation.
Magee also has to be in the conversation … although with an asterisk. I mentioned this, too, in another PST story earlier in the week. Long story short is this: if the Fire makes the playoffs, “Magic Mike” will get heaping helpings of praise – and consideration for the MVP crown.
Others to monitor over the final 15 rounds (in alphabetical order):
- Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman
- Vancouver Whitecaps’ Camilo
- Montreal Impact’s Marco di Vaio
- Philadelphia Union’s Jack McInerney
- Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi