Here is our current view of how the league’s Most Valuable Player race is shaping up:
1. Mike Magee:
We cannot really say Magee is in a scoring slump; that’s not exactly fair or even accurate.
What we can say is that the season savior around Toyota Park, whose arrival has been one of the best stories of Major League Soccer 2013, has not scored in almost a month. Any way you slice it, that’s not good for the man’s MVP chances.
The Fire forward’s most recent goal was on Aug. 3, his eighth for in 10 league matches at the time for Chicago. Now four Chicago Fire games have come and gone without a strike from “Magic Mike.”
He was injured and did not appear in two of those. Still, a loss of momentum means the spotlight gets pointed elsewhere.
The timing is hardly ideal. First, as we said before in our last MVP Awards Tracker, Magee’s chances are linked heavily to Chicago’s playoff fate. Dwayne De Rosario (in 2011) is the only league MVP so far from a club that did not make the playoffs. Every match Magee misses or that he fails to find goal reduces the Fire’s post-season chances.
Frank Klopas’ team is currently seventh in the East, where five clubs will qualify for post-season soccer.
Plus, any deceleration of momentum in and around September, as people like me begin to look more carefully at these races, can become a real buzz kill on someone’s chances.
2. Robbie Keane:
The Galaxy’s Irish international made a roaring statement in Round 25 with his second hat trick this year, a truly meaningful one as the Galaxy took apart Western Conference leading Real Salt Lake.
That is precisely the kind of headline-making performance voters tend to remember when they fill out ballots.
Keane is tied for fourth in MLS goals (10) and tied for third in assists (9). If you add those totals, no MLS man has contributed directly to more goals.
3. Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio
Almost by definition, the league’s leading scorer will become a leading MVP candidate. The Italian veteran has a league-leading 15 now. Two of those came in Saturday’s destruction of Houston.
Di Vaio’s goals are a big reason Montreal leads the East, in dandy position for a playoff berth in just its second season in MLS. That’s a great story around which to build an MVP case.
Also in the running: Vancouver’s Camilo, Portland’s Will Johnson, Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.