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MLS at mid-season: Staff discussion on Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year

Jul 6, 2012, 8:56 AM EDT

Eric Alexander, Chris Wondolowski

With most teams having played somewhere between 16-18 games, we’re more or less at the halfway pole of Major League Soccer’s season.

So myself, Richard Farley and Noah Davis put our soccer brains together (Jenna Pel is in deep study for the upcoming Olympics) to sort out which MLS man is looking good for post-season awards, like Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, etc. …

Steve Davis: As much as I hate to be master of the obvious, I like Chris Wondolowski right now. Obvious choice, I know, but MLS leading scorer and guiding force on the top team does scream “MVP,” eh? Is there a Danny Koevermans lover in the house? Thierry Henry, anyone? Somebody talk me off this ledge of the obvious.

Noah Davis: Hard to argue against Wondo (So good! So smiley!), but I’m taking Henry. I’ve been to a number of Red Bulls games this season – both with and without him playing – and I challenge you to find a player who makes a bigger impact on the game or his team when he’s playing. Plus, he spends time behind the seasons mentoring the younger guys (hey, Connor Lade), which is essential for a squad like the Red Bulls. Injuries slowed his scoring, but assuming he gets healthy (a big if) and returns to form (another big if), I can’t see voting against him at the end of the season.

Steve Davis: Ah, some good, old-fashioned East Coast media bias oozing into this process already! Wonderful. We needed some of that to establish credibility. Ahem.

Richard Farley: Allow the West Coast to even things out, even if I’m obvious in doing so? First, Wondo’s pure numbers are hard to debunk, but if you want a more “value to team” angle, look at the role he plays on that team. My line on San Jose all year has been they’re the best in the league because they have so many ways to beat you. Come minute 60, they can give you a totally different, equally effective look, but the key to that versatility is Wondo.

Steve Davis: Helps explain those amazing comebacks, eh?

Richard Farley: Exactly. Tuesday was a good example. Yallop started the game with Alan Gordon up top. But by the end, he was as much an attacking midfielder as forward, Yallop relying on him to provide the link between him and the midfield as well as get the ball to the speed merchants San Jose has wide. Everybody’s notice how good San Jose is in second halves. Wondo’s versatility’s a huge part of that.

Steve Davis: Hmmm. I’ll have to check Richard’s contract; I don’t remember any bonus clauses attached to Wonder Wondo and awards, but let me check.

So, Wondolowski for Rookie of the Year, too? Or do we have other thoughts on that one?

Noah Davis: Henry for RotY.

Steve Davis: Got ya down, Noah … do you have a second choice in case sanity or a technicality intervenes?source: Getty Images

Noah Davis: Sticking with the theme here, I’m taking Ryan Meara. He’s been a rock behind a defense that is, too often, in shambles. The Red Bulls have given up more goals than any team in the top-half of the league, but it’s hard to fault Meara for too many of them. When the would-be firefighter does give up goals, it’s because his backline hung him out to dry.

Richard Farley: I’m been struggling with this one. I want to give it to Ryan Meara (Noah outlines why), but that save percentage is really low. Whenever I see a stat that contradicts what I’m seeing with my eyes, I always ask what else is going into it. May New York just gives up a lot of quality chances. And they do, but ultimately Meara isn’t stopping as many shots as I think he should, If Nick DeLeon wasn’t putting in the work at D.C., I’d probably talk myself into Meara.

Steve Davis: You know, I keep waiting for the rookie wobble in NY goal, but it just doesn’t happen. I’m pulling for the kid. But…uh…Darren Mattocks in Vancouver. Healthy now. Four goals in eight games. Just sayin’…

(We’re taking a break for finger sandwiches and Oreos … We’ll talk about Coach of the Year and other mid-season honors tomorrow.)

  1. pensfan603 - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    discuss mroe like ksis wondos ass.. he has scored goals.. ya but for hsi team, they cna win with out him its when leiharts not on the field they play bad, MVP is Dero he has his team playing at a level no one expected just because he isnt scoring a ton doesnt mean he isnt valueable, he is facilitating the ball and i DC the game moves through de ro with out him the team would not be where they are he is way more valueable.

  2. alexsenn01 - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    While Henry is a very good player, his team has done better without him. They are 5-1-1 in games where Henry doesn’t start, and only 4-3-3 in games where Henry starts. There’s a lot of games left to play, but midway through the year it’s obvious Wondo is the MVP. He has 14 goals, with 7 of those being game winners (compare to Henry who only has 2 game winners). Wondo not only scores, he scores important goals. The Quakes have 11 wins this year, and 9 of those were games where Wondo scored.
    DeRosario is also having a good year, but not as good as Wondo’s. The second half of the season will be interesting to follow to see how this plays out.

  3. stackhousesoccer - Jul 7, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Agree about Henry. Team SEEMS like it should be better with him. Of course. But data doesn’t back that up. In the end that will hurt his chances for MVP. And yes, some love for Koevermans here. The guy is on a serious scoring run.

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