MLS is Back: Top 3 curveball MVP candidates

MLS, Sporting KC, Alan Pulido (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
MLS, Sporting KC, Alan Pulido (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
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MLS, Sporting KC, Alan Pulido
MLS, Sporting KC, Alan Pulido (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

After four months without any action, the MLS is Back Tournament is a week away. Here are top three curveball MVP candidates ahead of the competition.

Next week, Major League Soccer returns. The MLS is Back Tournament, which sees all 26 teams travel to Orlando, Florida and play in a World Cup-style competition, commences next Wednesday. Thus far, all the stars will be there, from last year’s MVP Carlos Vela to Alejandro Pozuelo, Nicolas Lodeiro and Diego Valeri. But who are the lesser-known players who could establish themselves as the real stars of the show?

Here are three curveball candidates for this year’s MLS is Back Tournament.

New York City FC, Heber
USA’s New York City FC Brazilian player Heber Araujo celebrates a goal against Costa Rica’s San Carlos during their CONCACAF Champions League match at Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium in Alajuela, Costa Rica on February 20, 2020. (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) (Photo by EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP via Getty Images) /

3. Heber

After arriving early last season in place of David Villa, Heber has quickly established himself as one of the premier goalscorers in MLS. But when compared to the likes of Josef Martinez or Raul Ruidiaz or even Javier Hernandez, the Brazilian is often not considered at the same level. Do not overlook the New York City FC centre-forward, though. He is a supreme talent.

Heber scored 15 goals last year. Only four players — Vela, Zlatan, Martinez and Diego Rossi — scored more. More impressively, they all played north of 2500 minutes. Heber only played 1575 minutes. He averaged a goal every 105 minutes. Only Vela, Martinez and Zlatan bettered that figure. And of those three players, just Vela will be at MLS is Back.

Heber also started the 2020 season in good form. NYCFC are yet to score in MLS, admittedly, but he notched a hat-trick in a 5-3 win over San Carlos in the CONCACAF Champions League. If he can score at the prolific rate he did last year, Heber will be one of the leading stars at MLS is Back.