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Did Emilio Deserve to be MVP?

When D.C. United's Luciano Emilio was named Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Player on Thursday, there were always going to be a few disappointed rumblings in the press that the award didn't go to New York's Juan Pablo Angel, the other hot favorite to win the prestigious award. In the end, Emilio's 20 goals, which earned him the Golden Boot award as the league's top scorer, proved to be the difference, despite his team's disappointing first-round exit in the MLS playoffs.

Among the Brazilian's detractors (in terms of receiving the award, that is), is ESPN's Steve Davis, who feels that pound-for-pound, Angel's contribution to the Red Bull cause was more significant than Emilio's goal-scoring exploits for D.C. United. While Emilio displayed exemplary finishing, Angel essentially "rescued the Red Bulls from sure mediocrity." Some might say the Red Bulls were mediocre anyway, but Davis insists that Tom Soehn's D.C. United "would have been just fine, thanks" even without Emilio. But the Red Bulls without Angel probably wouldn't have made the playoffs.

It wasn't just his finishing (19 goals in 23 appearances), but his play-making (5 assists), and willingness to work hard for the team (i.e. defending, winning tackles), that made him the Bulls' flagship player. Was Emilio D.C.'s franchise player? Midfielder Christian Gomez, last season's MVP, might have something to say about that. So too, might right-winger Ben Olsen. In any event, there can be no doubt the award went to one of the season's finest players; Davis also reveals that the margin of victory was predictably slim.

Read the whole story at ESPN Soccernet »

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