"With the race for MVP and the MLS Cup wide open this year, this season could go down as the best in league history."
The MLS season started with a bang on Sunday as there was several goals and some great matches. This type of opening day gives fans the right to be excited about the season and what it will bring. With the season now started it is a good time to look at who the contenders for taking home the league MVP are.
Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC
Gotta start with the reigning MVP. The Toronto ace did not disappoint in the team’s opener netting one and assisting on the other. With Gio, we may be witnessing one of the best statistical runs by a player in MLS history. Fans need to enjoy it while he is still here as his continued dominance will make European clubs take notice.
Kei Kamara – Columbus Crew
Kamara broke out in a big way for the Crew last season, putting together his best year in MLS. With one of the better squads in MLS around him, he will have the opportunity to put in another great year. The question may be if signing his new contract will affect his effort in any way. We have seen it before where players sign that large contract only to under deliver.
Benny Feilhaber – Sporting Kansas City
The Sporting Kansas City midfielder was in incredible form in 2015. With much of the Sporting attack going through his feet, Feilhaber showed his class. This season could see him take another step forward as being snubbed by the US National team may drive him to prove them wrong. A motivated player of his talent can be a dangerous weapon.
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Mauro Diaz/ Fabian Castillo – FC Dallas
Either of these dynamic players could make a run at the MVP. Diaz with his deft touch and passing ability is the creator that every team covets in their midfield. Diaz gets his share of goals, but make no mistake, it is his ability to carve defenses up with the dribble and pass that creates so many opportunities for his team. Castillo is more of the scorer of the two as Dallas uses his speed on the wings to devastating effect. FCD moves both players around the pitch during the games to create match up problems for the opposition. Expect both to post excellent numbers this year in FCD’s high octane attack.
Clint Dempsey – Seattle Sounders
Dempsey has always been in the conversation since he came to Seattle. Unfortunately for Sounders fans he has not been able to take them to that elusive MLS Cup. Dempsey is going to continue to get the attention of opposing defenses, and without former running mate Obafemi Martins to relieve the pressure, things may get more difficult. It is during these times when Dempsey has found a way to shine. Having young stud Jordan Morris may become a better fit for Dempsey than Martins was. If Morris and Dempsey can develop some early chemistry, then this could be the year for the Sounders.
Kaka – Orlando City SC
Kaka has the pedigree and past accomplishments that is the envy of most players. It is this experience along with his technical ability that makes him a player to watch in this race. Orlando is building up a solid group around him. If Cyle Larin continues his development and Antonio Nocerino can adjust to his new surroundings quickly, Kaka should be pulling the strings on an effective attack.
Giovani dos Santos – LA Galaxy
This is where readers can say the list is going off the rails. With so many options on the Galaxy why go with dos Santos? Call it a pick based on potential rather than previous production. When you have Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes as your running mates, with Steven Gerrard and Nigel de Jong supporting you from the midfield, you are going to have space available to work in. The key for dos Santos will be to find the space and then make good on his abilities once he gets the ball. Opportunities should not be a problem for the Mexican international. The issue lies with him making the most of those opportunities. He did not look comfortable in the opener over the weekend, but he has too much talent to not find success in the Galaxy setup.
David Ousted – Vancouver Whitecaps
Tony Meola is the only goalkeeper to win the MVP award and for good reason. It is a rarity for a netminder to play at such a high level over an entire season that they overshadow the offensive players. Ousted is a very dark horse candidate, but he can put himself in the conversation. Playing in the same conference with the Galxy, FC Dallas and reigning champs Portland, Ousted will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself as the best keeper in MLS. If he can put Vancouver on his back and take them through the Western Conference gauntlet, he could put himself in position to be a nominee for the MVP award.
There are several players who deserve to be mentioned as MLS has seen the top tier talent grow over the last few seasons. Players like Didier Drogba (depending on his knee), David Villa, Bradley Wright-Phillips and others could put together an MVP caliber season. With the race for MVP and the MLS Cup wide open this year, this season could go down as the best in league history.