By FRANCO PANIZO
There may only be a few weeks left in the MLS regular season, but that does not mean there is a clear understanding of who is this year’s Most Valuable Player.
In fact, it still seems up for grabs.
With the MLS season as tight as it has ever been (only one team has secured a playoff spot as of now), the question of who is the league’s MVP in 2013 is still a valid one. A lot can change between now and the end of the regular season and where teams finish in terms of reaching the playoffs or not could have a big impact on which player observers feel is most desrving.
All of this is not to say that there are no candidates worthy of taking the award today. On the contrary, there are several and that is why it may take the final few weeks of the regular season for some voters to decide who is the year’s Most Valuable Player.
Here is a closer look at the MLS MVP nominees:
Since joining the Chicago Fire via a trade from the LA Galaxy in May, the veteran forward has reinvigorated the Eastern Conference club that initially looked set for another subpar year. That has been no easy task, but Magee has made it look that way by scoring bountiful goals and providing a constant threat for the Fire’s offense just as he did while with the Galaxy at the start of the year. It has been a career season for Magee with 18 combined goals (12 for Chicago in 19 appearances, six for LA in 10), but he will likely need to push Frank Klopas’ side back into the playoff picture to have a serious shot at winning the award.
The Galaxy’s attack has been as dangerous as ever in 2013 and a lot of that is due to the play of Robbie Keane. Yes, Keane has benefitted from the return of a rejuvenated Landon Donovan but 15 goals and 11 assists in 20 appearances is nothing to sneeze at. Keane’s presence up top also helps create space for the likes of Donovan and co., something that may not show up on the stat sheet but is important in its own right now. Like Magee with the Fire, Keane will need to help LA assure it reaches the playoffs in order to avoid losing some votes.
MARCO DI VAIO
The Montreal Impact may have slipped quite a bit at the end of the season, but that is no fault of Di Vaio. The Italian striker has been a monster up front for Montreal this season, scoring a league-high 19 goals in 29 matches. Many would argue that Di Vaio is singlehandedly the most important player in the league in terms of how his team fares when he is and isn’t on the field, and that could win him some votes. In any case, he is without a doubt one of the main reasons the Impact have enjoyed as good of a season as they have had and will be the one to make them go in the playoffs should they get there.
Ever since making his MLS debut back in March, there has been no denying that Valeri is one of the most skilled players in the league. The Argentine veteran has scored quality goals and delivered sublime assists and has been a vital cog in the Portland Timbers’ offensive renaissance this season. Eight goals and 12 assists may not be as eye-opening as Keane or Magee’s stats, but Valeri’s contributions for an exciting Timbers side are plenty deserving of winning the MVP honors, especially when considering how many other foreigners have struggled to adapt to MLS in their first years in the league.
If being the best player on the team that currently leads the league and has a playoff spot assured doesn’t get you recognition, not much will. Cahill may be the dark horse in this race, but the Australian international is worthy of consideration given his performances for the first-place New York Red Bulls. Not only has Cahill proven his DP status with a steady stream of strong performances on both sides of the ball, but he has also fought off two painful injuries to continue his impressive form. Adding to his case is that several of his team-high 10 goals this year have been decisive ones, such as his clutch stoppage-time header in this past weekend’s draw with the New England Revolution.
The Vancouver Whitecaps forward with the propensity for scoring spectacular goals might have seen his case weakened as their playoff hopes have diminished, but there is still no denying how crucial he has been for the club in 2013. Camilo has netted 18 times and added five assists this season, numbers that have played a big part in Vancouver even being in the hunt for a place in the postseason. Camilo could still win the Golden Boot this year and that would surely help his cause, but he probably will still need some big-time outings and goals (like this weekend’s against Portland) in the Whitecaps’ final matches to have any real shot at taking the award home.
Who is your pick for MLS MVP? Is there someone not on this list that you think deserves consideration?
Share your thoughts below.