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Top MVP candidates in MLS

Thursday 19th October 2017
The official most valuable player (MVP) list includes 53 players, representing 21 of the league's 22 teams. Los Angeles Galaxy is the only side without a candidate, and deservedly so. The LA-based franchise has been a massive disappointment this season.

Several Major League Soccer players deserve to win the 2017 award. Here are the four leading candidates to collect the trophy.

Diego Valeri - Portland Timbers

Diego Valeri previously won the MVP Award in the 2015 MLS Cup. He should be among top contenders for the main accolade this year. His numbers and consistent performances back up that claim. Having made 31 appearances this term, the former Lanus and FC Porto star has 21 goals and 11 assists.
Portland has several interesting attacking players, including Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi, but without question, Valeri is the team's engine. Following the club's disastrous 2016 campaign, he played a crucial role in turning things around.

The Argentine has been instrumental for the Timbers as they attempt to become the Western Conference's top seed. If the MVP is defined as the most valuable player on each side, then Valeri fits the bill perfectly.

Josef Martinez - Atlanta United

Josef Martinez joined Atlanta United from Serie A side Torino at beginning of February. The Venezuela international has been a major success in his debut season. His outstanding displays, which saw him pick up September's Player of the Month award, are proving that he's too good for MLS. The only thing slowing him down is injuries, otherwise Martinez could be the competition's top goalscorer.
The Venezuelan has only played 19 matches in the regular season but still managed to contribute with 18 goals and an assist. He is a vital piece in Atlanta's attacking line, which also includes Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad and Hector Villalba. All four have produced MVP-level campaigns, but Martinez certainly stands out among his teammates.

Nemanja Nikolic - Chicago Fire

With the exception of David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco, Nemanja Nikolic is the best striker recruited by MLS in recent years. Ater arriving from Legia Warsaw, he has dazzled during debut year stateside. The Hungary international is a key player for one of this campaign's best Eastern Conference teams: Chicago Fire.
Barring a big performance from Valeri in the final game, Nikolic will end the regular season as the MLS top scorer. He has already scored 24 goals in 33 matches, putting him three ahead of his Portland rival. As the league's highest scorer, along with his importance to the Fire, Nikolic deserves serious consideration for the MVP award.

Sebastian Giovinco - Toronto FC

One simply can't discuss MLS and the MVP Award without mentioning Sebastian Giovinco. A man who's made 85 appearances throughout his Toronto FC career, registering 54 goals and 37 assists.

Similar to Martinez, the Italian forward has dealt with a fair share of injuries this season. When fully fit, however, he's an absolute difference maker for TFC. The Canadian franchise recently won the Supporters' Shield Trophy - awarded to the best team during the regular season - and it wouldn't have been possible without Giovinco.
The Atomic Ant has enjoyed another stellar season for the Reds. In 24 games, he has 15 goals and 6 assists under his belt. Although, statistically, this could be Giovinco's worst MLS campaign, it's also the first year where he hasn't played more than 27 league games. Despite not performing to his capabilities in recent times, his accomplished past record and Toronto's impressive season will prove enough to gain Giovinco MVP votes.
Juan Pablo Aravena

29-year-old sports analyst and journalist with over three years of experience in the industry. Writes about all kinds of sports from football to golf, but there is no question his biggest passion in life is football. Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Colo Colo fan.

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