Snapshot: The MLS MVP Race This Past Weekend

It won't be Landon in a walk this year...

Over the past few weeks and months, TSG has served you a steady diet of MLS MVP data snacks….but we’ve left the bright orange cellophane on for you to unwrap yourself.

Our candidate here at TSG is Brad Davis who has created 40 more “chances” this season (data excluding this past weekend) then the next closest competitor, according to Opta.

That he’s done this with a rotating cast of forwards, a defense that has but three clean sheets on the season and no complementary creative player in midfield makes his feat that much more astounding.

Let’s take a look at how some of the popular MVP candidates and their teams fared this weekend. To refresh, TSG has Brad Davis at #1 and Mauro Rosales at #2. Rosales is now injured for Seattle. And it looks like DeWayne DeRosario is making a move down the home stretch at #3.

Brad Davis: Available for teammates, taking chances in the offensive 3rd.

• Brad Davis, The Houston Dynamo win away at FC Dallas, 1-0

Not a explosive game for Davis but a steady game. Throw in that it was once again B-Dub  (doesn’t this guy need a fancy nickname or something to create some hype?) with the service to Geoff Cameron for the game winning goal at the death and well Brad Davis comes through again.

I’m normally not a fan of pass completion charts, but the one on the right here is telling.

Davis completed 20 of 31 passes–his only misses were chances taken going forward in the offensive third to spring something.

• Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy win away at Colubmbus, 1-0

This win says it all about Donovan’s MVP candidacy. The star USMNT forward was a did not play against Columbus along with fellow DP’s Robbie Keane and David Beckham, yet the Galaxy still won on the road.

First, Donovan is a major cog in the Galaxy system, but he is not “the” cog. With Beckham’s service and now Keane’s movement up front, Donovan is one of three in the attack game.

Second, as is customary with Bruce Arena’s teams, they play defensively on the road. Check the stats. For the past two season , Arena’s teams have conceded less on the road. That speaks to the spine of the team. The defense….or at least a defensive posture.

• DeWayne DeRosario, three goals in United’s home 4-1 win over RSL

Maybe Davis’s biggest competition for the award (aside from Rosales whose candidacy will suffer in that he’s out for 3 weeks.)

DeRo knocked in a hat trick in a hurry….but it was against a reserve Real Salt Lake side who looked like they were ready to concede the match from the opening minutes.

There is much merit to a DeRo campaign, but Davis has been there every game for the currently Eastern Conference-leading Dynamo.

Trump card.

• Thierry Henry, 90 minutes in a 2-0 home win for the Red Bulls over the Timbers

Henry has skidded a little into the backdrop in New York as their other DP, Rafa Marquez, has grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Henry has been steady for the Red Bulls this year, but shouldn’t the DP have a role in stemming locker room issues and being a stopper when results on the field are going the wrong way?

Similar to the Galaxy thoughts, it was New York’s defense that put up the fight in Marquez’s absence on Saturday in a must-win over visiting Portland. Additionally, it’s evident that New York is a much better team when both Luke Rodgers and Dane Richards are firing.

In other words, Henry still needs a lot of help.

Other candidates: Brek Shea, Faryd Mondragon, Omar Gonzalez

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(Note: If you added in a write-in vote, I will tally it when the poll closes.)

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And, in the spirit of “balanced coverage” we’ve added…

32 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Freegle on 2011/09/26 at 10:27 AM

    “B-Dub?” You can do better than that. I thought the “Dub” tag was reserved for people whose last name begins with a W. Even something cheesey like Bradical or B-Rad would be better (and they are terrible.)

    Agreed though… Brad Davis just doesnt do it.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/26 at 10:28 AM

      Okay — deleting that an adding “work in progress.”

      Reply

    • Posted by Alex Yang on 2011/09/26 at 1:39 PM

      Dawg, don’t hate on the B-Rad (turns visor around head)…

      But I do think Brad Davis is one of the most underrated players in the MLS. i wonder what percentage of Houston’s goals did have a hand in? (I.e. Assists, Hockey assists, and goals).

      Reply

      • Considering he takes most of our set pieces and just about all our corners and that’s where a lot of our goals come from…a lot.

        Reply

  2. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/26 at 10:47 AM

    I have no problem with Brad Davis winning the MVP.

    Random MLS musings- So glad to see the Red Bulls prove Marquez wrong. They are my least favorite team in MLS, but it is mainly because of him. D.C United is a “rival” of the Union, but I respect and like their coach and a lot of the players on their team. Other than Agudelo and Ream, Lindpiere is the only player I can stand on New York.

    I don’t think Mondragon should even be an outside candidate. Don’t get me wrong- I am very happy he is on the team and I hope he is back from injury soon. I think he has provided much needed leadership and confidence, but putting him into MVP consideration is probably going a bit far. After a rough first game, MacMath has been very, very solid making some key saves. I know TSG “criticized” the Union’s pick (and MacMath was a “reach” in the sense that he was projected to be taken later) of him saying that there were bigger needs, but he seems to be a quality keeper who will probably take over next year, or definitely the year after. I think it was a good pick. I don’t see Will Bruin, etc. helping this team out that much. Actually what I can’t visualize is that Nowak would have even used him (Bruin). Nowak has enough trouble finding playing time for Mwanga, Okugo, Torres, and McInerney somehow.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/09/26 at 7:36 PM

      Yeah, I think MLS writers underestimate the oddness of the draft within MLS. MLS is the only sport I know of with a draft that exists simultaneously within a free market for international talent. Needs? You can get a pretty decent player at nearly any position for $100k if you work at it hard enough. Double that and you have a reasonable expectation of getting an all-star or near all-star.

      Within that context, it doesn’t make sense to draft for need. Instead, you have to ask, what do draft picks bring that international players don’t? Well, they’re American, young, and relatively cheap. Sometimes, in cap terms, they cost nothing. Therefore your only consideration as an MLS GM in the draft should be maximizing value–that is, drafting whichever player you think will end up as the best one. That’s why I shake my head whenever I see someone say the Whitecaps made a mistake drafting Salgado over Kitchen. There are tons of Perry Kitchens out there; if Salgado fulfills his potential, there won’t be too many like him.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/26 at 10:58 AM

    Interesting- here are the current results from fan voting for MVP from MLS.com:

    Brek Shea (FC Dallas) 43.11%

    Mauro Rosales (Seattle) 28.45%

    Kyle Beckerman (RSL) 11.22%

    Brad Davis (Houston) 4.57%

    Jack Jewsbury (Portland) 4.33%

    Nick LaBrocca (Chivas USA) 0.96%

    Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) 7.37%

    Reply

  4. I’m starting the write in vote for LVP for Marquez right now.

    No one else in the league has done so little for so much money.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/26 at 12:29 PM

      Oh, that’s a great idea!

      Least Valuable Player…who else though is a candidate or will he win in a landslide.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Guest on 2011/09/26 at 12:55 PM

    If DeRosario continues his clip it’s going to be hard to ignore him. Three player of the week awards, and 13 goals with over 10 assists. Current leader for the Golden Boot.

    All of that for DC United – who is climbing the charts and may make a late break for the playoffs.

    For all that Brad’s stats are great (and they are, not taking anything away from him), he plays for a team that’s limping into the playoffs (yes, top of Eastern Conference is still limping) with a total of 1 road win. MVP candidates typically don’t come from team’s like these. DeRo would normally be different, but his story this year – three teams and still those stats – might make for the “feel good” MVP award. For all the challenge that’s awaited him this year, he’s risen to it. All at age 33 (which is supposed to be washed up in this league, he’s proving everyone dead wrong).

    And I hate to say it, but Brad’s soft-spoken nature may be a killer here too. There are folks in this league who say, “Brad who?” He may just come in under the radar and not get noticed enough.

    Runners-up that still have a chance:
    1) Brek Shea – but he looks like he is out of gas.
    2) Rosales – if he comes back from injury firing on all cylinders.
    3) Omar Gonzalez – remaining games clean sheets, may have a chance. But defenders typically don’t win this award. He has had a phenomal year in defense (hope Klinsmann calls him up already).

    No:
    1) LD – your assessment of the Galaxy is right, and he’s having a slow year for LD. (this said as a Galaxy fan) I expect him to have a great playoffs as usual though.
    2) Beckham – same
    3) Henry – if the Red Bull had been contenders, maybe. But “As the Red Bull World Turns” makes him a no.

    As of today, my vote goes to DeRo.

    Reply

    • While many of your points I agree with…

      The one I would argue is the “he plays for a team that’s limping into the playoffs” because without Brad Davis, the Dynamo aren’t even in the picture. They aren’t even limping, they are behind the barn looking over their shoulder at a tube of Elmers Glue.

      Reply

      • Posted by Guest on 2011/09/26 at 1:01 PM

        Totally agree with you – I’m just thinking tendency in the past has been to pick a player from a team that’s making an emphatic statement going into post-season.

        If DC continues to play the way they are playing now, that works.

        Houston has been all over the map – BUT, if they build on the win against FCD and make a case going into the post-season, maybe. But their road record could be a killer.

        Reply

  6. Posted by Crow on 2011/09/26 at 1:01 PM

    Rafa gets my vote. He is the athlete I despise the most in all of sports. Angel was close, though. I laugh everytime I think about him cursing me out after I told him he wasn’t good enough for the MLS when the Galaxy visited this Spring.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Guest on 2011/09/26 at 1:05 PM

    LVP = Rafa. I practially puked when he won the Fair Play Award at the Gold Cup.

    Why LVP?

    First, his play. He has been vacant for a majority of this season.
    Second, his attitude. Becoming a cancerous sore for a team at the worst possible moment is the definition of craptitude.

    Very curious as to where he plays for the next game. Or if he plays.

    Reply

  8. Posted by SamT on 2011/09/26 at 1:19 PM

    And on the whole LVP front…

    Shouldn’t there be a sponsor for this award just like Volkswagen now sponsors MVP?

    Perhaps the Lothar Matthaus honorary Least Valuable Player award? Hated that guy.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/09/26 at 1:31 PM

      Was he making Marquez money? I think it has to go to one of the DP guys that has been awful so either Marquez or Denilson.

      Reply

  9. Posted by Guest on 2011/09/26 at 1:35 PM

    Omar Cummings may have underperformed this season, but he’s on an 80k salary. That’s not a lack of value, it’s just a result of the extremely high expectations he’d set from last year.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Mike Mc on 2011/09/26 at 8:31 PM

    As far as Most Valuable Goal Keeper I’d have to go w/ Josh Saunders. L.A. has gone almost the entire season without their #1. I know people talk about how good the backline for the Galaxy is and that’s why Ricketts isn’t really as great as his numbers show etc. etc. But Saunders has been playing out of his mind,;besides that howler he had in CCL against Alajuelense I believe.

    Much like in Hockey where u can ride through the playoffs on the back of a hot goalie I think the same can apply to soccer and if Bruce puts Ricketts back in, which is very likely since he will soon be fit, I will be pissed.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/26 at 8:50 PM

      Mike — I agree on Saunders…but I also am the charter member of the “Donovan Ricketts is overrated club.”

      Reply

      • Posted by Mike Mc on 2011/09/27 at 2:45 AM

        Yes, you are the founding member correct? I really did not agree with some of the criticism of Ricketts…..until a few games into this season. All of that athleticism and long limbs could no longer conceal his deficiencies in other areas.
        But yes based on some of the things I’ve heard commentators say, like him being the best or one of the best keepers in MLS, he is certainly overrated.
        And I really don’t think he should be the automatic #1, not with the way Saunders is currently playing.

        Reply

        • Posted by Guest on 2011/09/27 at 10:57 AM

          I don’t agree with either of you. Example: Ricketts’ goalkeeping in Jamaica vs. USA. He flat out stoned Clint Dempsey as an example.

          He is a solid goalkeeper, and he won GK of the year last year, which I think he deserved. Do I think he can challenge Tim Howard? No. But do I think he’s an excellent GK in MLS? Yes.

          As for automatic starter – not a given, but I do think he is better than Josh Saunders. He’s a better shot stopper, and I think he has better reaction saves. With that said, on any other team than RSL, FCD and LA, I think Saunders is a starter – he’s also a talented GK. Frankly, if Brian Perk shows any promise, and Ricketts returns to form post injury, LA should be trading away one of it’s stellar GKs this off-season for some goods. We have an embarrassment of riches in that department.

          Reply

          • Don’t leave out Tally Hall, the Dynamo are probably an additional 7-9 points down the table without him in the lineup. He singlehandedly drew Seattle early this season.

            Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/27 at 3:09 PM

            I think Ricketts makes routine saves look harder than they are because his reaction time is slow but his reflexes after that are fine and he has length.

            I remember two seemingly great saves against the USMNT for Jamaica. But the first was because he saw it late. The 2nd on Dempsey was excellent.

            I have witnessed countless times he is late to react and he does a below average to terrible job marshaling the backline.

            Reply

            • Posted by Kay20 on 2011/09/27 at 3:32 PM

              He marshalls a backline that is the stingiest in the league – has been for awhile now. I don’t think he’s a non-entity in that. Saunders picked up a backline that was well-trained.

              I think his reaction saves/shot stopping is good. I also think his positioning is in general good – due to his length and smarts.

              What frustrates me with him is his rebounds, tips, punches. I don’t think he is great here, letting balls bounce back out, not punching far enough and not tipping in the right direction. He’s also not quick enough to pounce on rebounds.

              I just don’t understand how you can call his keeping “below average to terrible” when he is a huge part of one of the best defenses (if not the best) in MLS. I love Omar, AJ, Sean and Todd – they are great. Ricketts belongs in that fold too as a key part of LA’s defense.

              Before his injury this year he was quietly having his best year yet in stats. It’s hard to ignore that.

              But to each his own.

              (I’m finally going to pick a username too – been a lurker for over a year, and finally decided to participate. Love your site, think the anaysis is excellent, and a native Bay Area person too – thanks for turning me on to Danny Coyles).

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/09/27 at 3:34 PM

              Hey…thanks for participating!

              Agree to each their own.

              That said, my argument would be they are doing just as well with Saunders back there as Ricketts this year (even with less offense). No?

              Fair points on Ricketts. I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority re: my opinion.

  11. FIFA 12.

    Oh….

    Yes.

    Reply

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