MLS MVP

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Diego Valeri named 2017 MLS MVP

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It’s no shock, but Diego Valeri is the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player.

The Portland Timbers man carried the Cascadian club on his back, scoring 21 times with 11 assists. That includes an MLS record nine-match scoring streak.

Valeri won more than 50 percent of the vote, with runner-up David Villa the only other player getting double digits (16.40).

[ MORE: Goretzka readies decision ]

Three Toronto FC players split 10 percent of the vote (Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez). The Top Eight was rounded out by Atlanta United pair Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez, and Chicago striker Nemanja Nikolic.

He’s Portland’s first MLS MVP.

  • 2017: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
  • 2016: David Villa – New York City FC
  • 2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC
  • 2014: Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy
  • 2013: Mike Magee – Chicago Fire
  • 2012: Chris Wondolowski – San Jose Earthquakes
  • 2011: Dwayne De Rosario – D.C. United
  • 2010: David Ferreira – FC Dallas
  • 2009: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy
  • 2008: Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Columbus Crew
  • 2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United
  • 2006: Christian Gomez – D.C. United
  • 2005: Taylor Twellman – New England Revolution
  • 2004: Amado Guevara – MetroStars
  • 2003: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
  • 2002: Carlos Ruiz – LA Galaxy
  • 2001: Alex Pineda Chacon – Miami Fusion
  • 2000: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
  • 1999: Jason Kreis – Dallas Burn
  • 1998: Marco Etcheverry – D.C. United
  • 1997: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
  • 1996: Carlos Valderrama – Tampa Bay Mutiny

MLS names 53-player shortlist for 2017 MVP award

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
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As the MLS Cup playoffs are nearly arrived, it’s almost awards season for those around the league.

Recently, MLS released a list of 53 players eligible for capturing this year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP award. The award is voted on by a combination of media members covering MLS, technical staff around the league and players.

[ MORE: Bruce Arena steps down as USMNT manager ]

Players like Nemanja Nikolic, David Villa and Diego Valeri are among those considered favorites to take home the award after having stellar seasons for their respective clubs and tallying lots of goals in the process.

Meanwhile, newcomers Atlanta United boast three spectacular names on the list in Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba, who have all scored at least nine goals this season.

Check out the entire list of nominees below.

Club Player Pos
ATL ALMIRON, Miguel M
ATL MARTINEZ, Josef F
ATL VILLALBA, Hector “Tito” F
CHI NIKOLIC, Nemanja F
CHI SCHWEINSTEIGER, Bastian M
COL BADJI, Dominique F
COL HAIRSTON, Marlon M
COL HOWARD, Tim GK
CLB HIGUAIN, Federico M
CLB KAMARA, Ola F
CLB MERAM, Justin M
DC ACOSTA, Lucho M
DC HAMID, Bill GK
DAL BARRIOS, Michael M
DAL URRUTI, Maxi F
HOU CABEZAS, Juan David M
HOU ELIS, Alberth F
HOU TORRES, Erick F
MIN IBSON M
MIN RAMIREZ, Christian F
MIN SHUTTLEWORTH, Bobby GK
MTL PIATTI, Ignacio M
NE DELAMEA, Antonio D
NE NGUYEN, Lee M
NYC RING, Alex M
NYC VILLA, David F
NY KLJESTAN, Sacha M
NY WRIGHT-PHILLIPS, Bradley F
ORL BENDIK, Joe GK
ORL KAKA M
ORL SPECTOR, Jonathan D
PHI BLAKE, Andre GK
PHI MEDUNJANIN, Haris M
PHI SAPONG, C.J. F
POR VALERI, Diego M
RSL BECKERMAN, Kyle M
RSL PLATA, Joao F
RSL RUSNAK, Albert M
SJ JUNGWIRTH, Florian D
SJ URENA, Marco F
SJ WONDOLOWSKI, Chris F
SEA DEMPSEY, Clint F
SEA FREI, Stefan GK
SEA LODEIRO, Nicolas M
SKC BESLER, Matt D
SKC MELIA, Tim GK
SKC OPARA, Ike D
TOR BRADLEY, Michael M
TOR GIOVINCO, Sebastian M
TOR VAZQUEZ, Victor M
VAN MONTERO, Fredy F
VAN REYNA, Yordy M/F
VAN WASTON, Kendall D

Who’s your favorite to take home the award this year? Villa? Valeri? Another? Let us know below in the comments section.

Is MLS MVP a three-horse race at the All-Star “break”?

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With the 2016 MLS All-Star Game set to be played Thursday night (versus Arsenal, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif.), it got me thinking about the race for this year’s Most Valuable Player award. (If MLS is going to continue holding the All-Star Game every year — and they are — it should include an actual break, as is the case in all other America sports.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

While the field is a small one at this point of the campaign, it’s also much closer than it was last year, when Sebastian Giovinco took home the honor in an absolute landslide of a vote.

Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC

The reigning MVP is on pace for something of a come-down in his second season in MLS, but when you put up 22 goals and 16 assists in your debut campaign, can you really expect to replicate that kind of production from one year to the next? Still, 11 goals (on the most shots in the league – 124) and 7 assists through 20 games (Giovinco has played in 19) has him on pace for 18 goals and 12 assists. Of course, when you consider he snapped a skid of eight games without a goal with a hat trick Saturday night, and that he’s unlikely to endure such a slump through the final 14 games, 18 and 12 should be considered the proverbial floor.

TFC have scored just 25 goals this season, and Giovinco has scored or assisted 18 of them (72 percent).

As for TFC’s present standing and how that impacts Giovinco’s MVP candidacy, fifth place through 20 games is a disappointment considering this was to be “the year” where they were less of a collection of talent, and more a functional team. Of course, injuries (and national team call-ups) have robbed the Reds of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Will Johnson for lengthy periods already. That TFC find themselves presently a playoff team, and a measly six points back of the Eastern Conference’s top spot with two games in hand, should benefit Giovinco’s case more than hurt it.

David Villa, New York City FC

This one’s pretty simple: NYCFC weren’t supposed to be anywhere near the top spot of the East this season, yet that’s where they find themselves at the break, and Villa has spearheaded their unlikely run by scoring 13 goals (most in MLS – on 117 shots – 46 more than the next-closest player) and one assist through 22 games (Villa has played in 21). The question is this, though: will Patrick Vieira’s side still be there come the end of the season? So much of Villa’s claim to MVP is that he’s been the best player on one of the best (and certainly most surprising) teams in MLS this year.

If they’re to fall back into the pack (they’re just two points clear of the New York Red Bulls following Sunday’s 4-1 derby disaster, and only four points from fourth), Villa will quickly fall from MVP candidate to “the best best player on a subpar team.”

New York City FC forward David Villa, left, and New York City FC defender Chris Wingert celebrate Villa's early goal during the first half of the match between New York City FC and Toronto FC, Sunday, July 12, 2015, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
(AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

Ignacio Piatti, Montreal Impact

The Impact have, for my money, the most complete roster in the Eastern Conference. Didier Drogba is arguably the most dominant goal-scoring force MLS has ever seen (8 goals in 12 appearances this season; 11 in 11 last year), and the depth in midfield and defense is unparalleled, yet Piatti has been the unrivaled star through the first 20 games of the season (he has played in 18). His 12 goals and 5 assists are rivaled only by Giovinco’s numbers, and he’s been a far more consistent contributor than the Italian (never more than three games without a goal, while playing as a non-forward, unlike Giovinco).

The knock on Piatti has always been his inability to stay healthy and approach a pace of 30 appearances in a single season. Finally consistently healthy in 2016, he’s taken his short-term production and replicated that same kind of output over 90 percent of his team’s games this season. If he can reach 30 games played this year, Piatti has the best chance of stopping Giovinco from becoming the first back-to-back MVP winner in league history.

Montreal Impact's Ignacio Piatti, left, of Argentina, scores a goal as Vancouver Whitecaps' Kendall Waston, of Costa Rica, defends during first half MLS soccer action, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday, March 6, 2016. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

On the fringe, with a chance to catch the leaders: Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls – 5 goals, 12 assists), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers – 9 goals, 5 assists)

An MLS postseason awards ballot — MVP, Coach, Rookie & more

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Earlier this week, Major League Soccer released the 2015 list for end-of-season awards, which included MVP, Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year, among others.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

This is my would-be ballot for each of the top awards in 2015, with a little bit of reasoning included below…

Rookie of the YearCyle Larin, Orlando City SC

Larin, a 20-year-old rookie from the University of Connecticut (born in Brampton, Ontario), scored 17 goals and singlehandedly kept the expansion side alive in the playoff race until the final day of the regular season. There was no “hitting the rookie wall” for Larin, who only got stronger as the season went on (11 goals scored from July 26 on).

Runners-up: Matt Polster, Chicago Fire; Fatai Alashe, San Jose Earthquakes

Coach of the Year Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas

With all due respect to Jesse Marsch, who became Red Bulls manager under difficult circumstances and went on to win the Supporters’ Shield, part of being a manager is also building something for the long term, not just the season at hand. 14 players appeared in more 20 or more league games this year for FCD — their average age: 25.4 years old. FCD not only missed out on the Supporters’ Shield by virtue of goal differential this year, but they’re also perfectly positioned to come right back and challenge for it again next year.

Runners-up: Jesse Marsch, New York Red Bulls; Carl Robinson, Vancouver Whitecaps

[ MORE: Which MLS teams should be in the Cubo Torres sweepstakes? ]

Defender of the YearKendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps

No team in MLS conceded fewer goals than the Whitecaps (36 in 34 games), and Waston, the Costa Rican behemoth that he is, was a vitally important piece of that defensive title. Since Waston arrived in MLS, he’s been the scariest defender in the league. This year, he combined that fear, his massive frame (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) and an aerial dominance maybe never before seen in MLS to anchor the best defense in the league.

Runners-up: Laurent Ciman, Montreal Impact; Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City (not on list of nominees); Matt Hedges, FC Dallas

Goalkeeper of the YearBill Hamid, D.C. United

D.C. United conceded 43 goals on the season. Without Hamid between the sticks for 25 of their 34 games, that number could have easily been 55, or higher. Part of the allure to Hamid is that his midfield and defense was so bad by the end of the season that he was asked to make five, six, seven or eight spectacular saves each game. That shouldn’t take away from his resume, though, because he still made them in the end. Hamid was probably ready for regular minutes with the U.S. national team this time last year. He got very few in 2015, though he’s without a doubt ready to challenge Brad Guzan and Tim Howard for the starting job.

[ MORE: Gerrard won’t be returning to Liverpool (to play) ]

Goal of the YearKrisztian Nemeth, Sporting Kansas City

Here’s the problem with the quality in MLS continuing to improve year after year: there are entirely too many great goals scored to pick just one. Nemeth’s marathon, twisting, turning, elusive, pinpoint tally against the Portland Timbers last month comes out on top for me, though, if only for 1) the number of players taken on in the build-up, and 2) the quality of said players — Diego Chara and Nat Borchers are borderline elite players at their respective positions. Nemeth was a delightful surprise in terms of a relatively unknown foreigner coming to MLS and regularly displaying this level of quality.

Runners-up: Marco Donadel, Montreal Impact; Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders; Taylor Kemp, D.C. United; Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders

Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable PlayerSebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC

22 goals and 15 assists (an MLS record for goals and assists combined in a single season)…in his debut MLS season. Need I say more? There’s also the undeniable fact that, without Giovinco, TFC get nowhere near the MLS Cup Playoffs this year (first berth in club history), while Columbus, Montreal and Kansas City are all borderline playoff teams without their respective MVP candidates. Giovinco’s the best player to ever do his thing in MLS, the first player in MLS history that could walk into the starting 11 of just about any title-contending team in Europe.

Runners-up: Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew SC; Didier Drogba, Montreal Impact (not on list of nominees); Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City

MLS MVP Watch: Who is in the race for league’s top individual honor?

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It’s not always the big names taking home Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player award. For every Landon Donovan, there’s a David Ferreira. For every Preki, a Mike Magee.

And that’s not to slight the less-publicized winners, for we very well may have another slow-burning star bringing home the award this year.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

[ RELATED: MLS stats ]

With the matches winding down and the playoff race heating up, we take a look at the names making waves all year-long after a Twitter comment from a college coach got us thinking… who’s in the MVP driver’s seat as we head into Fall?

There are a few more names to toss into the discussion, of course: Donovan would be more than a sentimental selection, currently leading all players with 15 assists. Erick Torres is doomed by being on Chivas USA, but has been splendid for most of the season.

We’re at the point where Gyasi Zardes also deserves some love, which is what hurts the cases for both Donovan and Keane. L.A. is so, so good and at the right time. And while Keane is hammering shots around the park like no one else, the finely-tuned unit can point to a number of players as integral parts of the team. I still think Keane is the lynchpin, but does this hurt him with the voters?

It’s difficult to nod to World Cup players, though you certainly don’t want to fault them for being good enough to rep their national teams. But if you’re choosing between Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, how about the latter’s 12 goals and 9 assists keeping Seattle steady while Clint was in Brazil?

[ THE WAY BACK MACHINE: Early season MVP analysis ]

For this reason I don’t think Nick Rimando gets a look at giving the goalkeepers and MVP, at least not over DC’s Bill Hamid (However, if the sensational Rimando doesn’t finally pull in a Goalkeeper of the Year award… man, oh man). Still, no backstop is taking this home in 2014.

source: APSpeaking of DC, here’s a wild card for you: Bobby Boswell. Don’t laugh, the DC United defender has played the most minutes in the league as an anchor on the stingiest defense in the MLS. His teammate Perry Kitchen deserves a nod for similar reasons, albeit in the midfield.

But really the big numbers reign, and Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dom Dwyer are putting up the silliest goal figures going. BWP’s 21 goals on a relatively-weak NYRB side could nudge him ahead in the debate.

Here’s where I come out, though, especially if New England continues its ascension: Lee Nguyen has been incredible this season on a team that has sometimes ached for offense. He’s posted 12 goals and four assists while amassing a tied-for-league-best six match-winners (Zardes).

It has to be between Keane and Nguyen, in my mind. And the eye-popping goals and assist totals from Keane has me thinking he’ll take it home. Fourteen goals and 13 assists with games to spare while shining during a congested part of the schedule? Wow.

Who are we missing? Surely Timbers fans would like to hear Diego Valeri, who has sparked the part of Portland’s team that has thrived: attack. Who else?