October 28, 2016
My MVP selections: New York, New York (sorry, you'll have to read on to see who they are)
By Michael Lewis
Did Michael Lewis pick Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips as MLS MVP? You will just have to read on!
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
OK, before he really delve into the playoffs this weekend -- looking at Major League Soccer's Sunday's encounter and the North American Soccer League's The Championship next week -- we have to get some unfinished business out of the way.
Just who deserves to be the MVP of those two respective leagues?
Actually, my business was finished earlier this week, when I voted for the best of both leagues.
After much deliberation, I selected Bradley Wright-Phillips of the Red Bulls (MLS) and Juan Arango of the Cosmos (NASL)
Yes, I admit. There is a New York bias to my choices, but they certainly have earned the right to battle for the MVP.
It wasn't easy on both ends as each league had several players with superior performances this season.
New York City captain David Villa was my second choice, followed by Toronto FC striker Sebastian Giovinco (17 goals). I could have gone all partisan by picking Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan among the top three.
BWP has been the most lethal striker over the last three years with 68 goals over three seasons, the greatest stretch in the league's 21-year history.
If it is any consolation, I have voted for those aforementioned players for the MLS Best XI.
Wright-Phillips seems to lead the league in fantastic scoring opportunities, even missing many of them. He has this innate inability of finding the right position, angle and sense of forcing the opposing goalkeeper to pull the ball out of the back of the net.
He did it 24 times this season, no mean feat. Moreover, the English forward tallied his 24 goals over the final 27 matches, an astounding pace after failing to score in the opening seven games (the Red Bulls went 1-6 during that span).
Enough said on that.
No doubt that Villa enjoyed a remarkable regular season with 23 goals and as a vital leader of a revived NYC FC side. Giovinco has worked wonders for Toronto and Kljestan (league-best 20 assists) has been marvelous running the Red Bulls show, demonstrating the potential we saw of him at Seton Hall University and his early days with Chivas USA.
Still, my gut feeling tells me to go with BWP. I just hope that he and Kljestan don't split the vote.
Arango has been nothing short of sensational for the Cosmos, especially during the stretch run when crunch time really comes. Over a two-game span just recently, he converted three consecutive free kicks into goals over two games.
That is no mean feat.
The Venezuelan international has connected for 15 goals (second in the league) and created seven others (tied for second) for teammates heading into the final week of the regular season.
Listen, I think Minnesota United FC's Christian Ramirez (18 goals) is a marvelous player, as in the rest of the NASL MVP finalists (including Indy's Eamon Zayed, Tampa Bay's Joe Cole and Edmonton's Matt VanOekel) but think Arango has meant so much to the Cosmos performance as the best team in the NASL during the regular season.
After all those arguments, I definitely won't have a problem with any of those other candidates if they walk away with their league's respective honors. I just think BWP and Arango deserve their just desserts after superlative seasons.