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Recent winners lead wide-open MVP race
by Ridge Mahoney, July 26th, 2010 11:10PM

TAGS:  columbus crew, los angeles galaxy, mls, philadelphia union


[MLS] So far in 2010, the MVP race is a case of the usual suspects, with a few hopefuls edging into the picture. No matter what their numbers, Landon Donovan (last year's MVP) and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (MVP in 2008) are still the two most influential attackers in MLS.

They also play for the best teams, yet Schelotto (5 goals, 6 assists) has kept Columbus atop the East without a reliable partner up top – though Emilio Renteria adds qualities that Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart can’t supply – and Donovan leads the league in assists (11) despite missing games because of the World Cup.

Galaxy striker Edson Buddle (12 goals) is already within three goals of the seasonal best he scored two years ago. Close behind is New York’s Juan Pablo Angel with nine goals, and if they can hit 20 or even get into the high teens, MVP votes will follow.

The dual-threat attackers – those posting good numbers in both goals and assists – have to be considered. Philly’s Sebastien Le Toux has rung up sevens in both categories, and despite the Sounders’ struggles Fredy Montero (6 goals, 8 assists) is doing his part.

A new coach (Preki) and a few other changes have prompted improvement in Toronto, yet still the game flows through Dwayne DeRosario (8 goals, 3 assists).

The team ethic preached by Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis demands a lot of every player, and so well-bonded is the defending champ team that Alvaro Saborio (7 goals, 4 assists) and Javi Morales (4 goals, 6 assists), to name just two, are doing enough for MVP consideration without huge heaps of publicity. The revival of FC Dallas is also thanks to the efforts of several men; attacking catalyst David Ferreira (4 goals, 5 assists) is the most visible, if not viable, candidate.

A bit off the beaten track but also showing improvement is San Jose, for which Bobby Convey is impressively driving the team forward in just about every game. He scored his first goal of the season last Thursday against the Galaxy – which must have been a great feeling – and is among those chasing Donovan in assists (Convey has eight).

New York’s Joel Lindpere joined MLS this season, and quickly established himself as one of its best all-around midfielders. Men like him and Shalrie Joseph and Kyle Beckerman and Jeff Larentowicz don’t get many MVP votes yet are absolutely essential.

With three months of the regular season still to play, here’s my top five MVP candidates:

1. Landon Donovan (Galaxy)
2. Fredy Montero (Seattle)
3. Edson Buddle (Galaxy)
4. Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia)
5. Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus)

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