Major League Soccer today announced the finalists for the 2017 End of Year Awards, honoring the league’s top performers during the 2017 MLS regular season.
A tightly contested race for the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award comes down to five finalists whose clubs made the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. The finalists include the two most recent MVP recipients, this year’s Golden Boot winner, and a pair of dazzling playmaking midfielders. New York City FC forward David Villa (2016 MVP) and Toronto FC forward/midfielder Sebastian Giovinco (2015 MVP) have two of the most prolific starts to their MLS careers in league history. Villa’s 63 goals rank first all-time among a player’s first three seasons in the league, while Giovinco’s 55 goals are tied for third.
Villa follows up his 2016 MVP campaign with a second-consecutive season finishing as the Golden Boot runner-up after scoring 22 goals and adding nine assists. Spain’s all-time leading scorer and a FIFA World Cup winner, Villa is one of only two players in league history to register consecutive 20-plus goal campaigns. Giovinco helped lead Toronto to a historic season with the most points ever in an MLS season (69 points), with the Italian scoring 16 goals and providing six assists. With six direct free kick goals in 2017, Giovinco set a single-season MLS record while also becoming the all-time career leader in league history (13 career free kick goals).
Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri became the second player ever to record a 20-goal, 10-assist season in MLS, finishing the year with 21 scores and 11 helpers to lead Portland to the top seed in the Western Conference. The Argentine’s 33 combined goals and assists ranks tied for fifth-most in league history, while his nine consecutive matches with a goal scored earlier this season set a new MLS record.
Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolić joins Valeri and Villa as 20-plus goal scorers in 2017, the fourth time in league history three players have scored 20 or more goals in the same season. The 2017 Golden Boot winner (24 goals) finishes as the leading goalscorer in his respective league for the fourth consecutive season, accomplishing the feat across three different countries. Rounding out the MVP finalists is Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almirón, who helped his club become the third active MLS expansion team to make the postseason thanks to a nine-goal, 14-assist season. The 23-year-old Paraguay National Teamer paced an Atlanta offensive attack that ranked second in the league with 70 goals scored, an MLS expansion team record.
The winner for the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player will be announced on December 4.
Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Finalists
Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United)
Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
Nemanja Nikolić (Chicago Fire)
Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
David Villa (New York City FC)