Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco is back among the finalists for the MLS Most Valuable Player award after a notable absence last year.
Giovinco won the 2015 award, and his omission from the 2016 finalists was a topic of controversy. But the forward was listed this year as MLS expanded the list of finalists from three to five.
Also nominated for the 2017 MVP are Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic of the Chicago Fire, last year’s winner David Villa of New York City FC, the Portland Timbers’ Diego Valeri, and Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron.
Nikolic led the league in scoring with 24 goals, ahead of Villa’s 22 and Valeri’s 21. Almiron was tied for fourth in MLS with 14 assists and also provided nine goals, earning him the nod over his teammate Josef Martinez (19 goals, one assist).
However, both Almiron and Martinez were named finalists for the Newcomer of the Year, along with Nikolic. Toronto FC’s Victor Vazquez was a somewhat surprising omission after providing 16 assists, second only to 17 from New York’s Sacha Kljestan, who led the league a second year in a row.
Top draft pick Abu Danladi of Minnesota United is a candidate for Rookie of the Year after scoring eight goals. The other finalists are Atlanta’s Julian Gresssel (five goals, nine assists), and Philadelphia Union defender Jack Elliott, who was drafted with the 77th of the league’s 88 picks.
Atlanta manager Tata Martino is up for the Coach of the Year after guiding United into the playoffs in its first season. He’s joined by Greg Vanney of Supporters’ Shield-winning Toronto FC, and Veljko Paunovic, who oversaw the Chicago Fire’s remarkable turnaround from a year ago.
The finalists for Goalkeeper of the Year are Philadelphia’s Andre Blake, Seattle’s Stefan Frei and Sporting Kansas City’s Tim Melia, while Sporting’s Ike Opara, Toronto’s Justin Morrow and Vancouver’s Kendall Waston are up for Defender of the Year.
Seattle’s Clint Dempsey is a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year after recovering from a heart ailment. He’s listed alongside Columbus’ Federico Higuain and Houston’s Erick Torres.
The finalists were voted on by three groups: current MLS players, MLS club technical staffs and media members. The awards will be announced through November, with the MVP announced on Dec. 4.
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