With eight points separating Philadelphia Union in first-place and New York City FC in sixth-place, and LAFC threatening to turn the fight for the Supporters’ Shield into a one-horse race, there’s plenty going on this MLS season to keep sports fans happy. And it seems that the race for MVP is just as hotly contested, but there are some candidates that are capable of success from the experts at FootyAccumulators While the winner will most likely come from the winning team of the MLS Cup, as three of the last five winners have, players outside that have won in the past. Here are the top picks for this season’s MVP.
Carlos Vela – LAFC
Vela is the current favourite, having maintained his pace this season scoring 16 goals in 16 matches along with a league-leading 10 assists. The LAFC forward has turned a number of difficult opportunities around for the team and it could wind up resulting in him breaking the record for the most combined goals and assists in a single season – an achievement currently held by Sebastian Giovinco.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – LA Galaxy
Ibrahimovic has been one of the top scorers of this season, up there with Vela, with 11 goals in 12 matches, with many amazing goals. The issue that might hold him back is his behavior on and off the field that has drawn in plenty of criticism. It also resulted in a two-game suspension after his confrontation with New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson back in May. In order to make the MVP race, Ibrahimovic is going to have to stay on track much more consistently, but is he capable of putting in the work?
Josef Martinez – Atlanta United
Considering the attention given to Atlanta’s poor play this season, it’s unsurprising that Martinez has fallen off the radar, but the striker has scored 10 goals in 15 matches. Atlanta have certainly benefitted from Martinez’s performance on the pitch and this could place him deservedly in the MVP race.
Eduard Atuesta – LAFC
The defensive work put in by the likes of Latif Blessing, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Atuesta has been incredible this season. While each of them has ranked in the top eight in MLS in terms of recoveries, it’s Atuesta that sat the deepest of the three, barricading the back line.
Wayne Rooney – D.C United
Wayne Rooney might have had a smoother run of it last year compared to this season, and certainly the same can be said of D.C. United who have spent the last five games winless. However, Rooney has still scored eight goals which tie him fourth in the league. While he will need to get lucky with a hotter streak in the next few games to make up for lost ground, there’s no denying it’s possible.
Brian Fernandez – Portland Timbers
The Portland Timbers forward has been touted as being this year’s Rooney, with great skill and the power to make waves in the league, but he also has the benefit of a home-heavy schedule. Fernandez has enjoyed a great start with four goals in his first three games.