David Villa is one of five finalists for MLS MVP. (Keith Furman/FrontRowSoccer Photo)
NEW YORK – Can David Villa mine MLS gold for the second year in a row?
He was named one of the five finalists for Major League Soccer’s Golden Ball award — aka the Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award.
Villa and Toronto FC forward-midfielder Sebastian Giovinco (2015 MVP) have two of the most prolific starts to their MLS careers in league history. Villa’s 63 goals rank first all-time among a player’s first three seasons in the league, while Giovinco’s 55 goals are tied for third.
Villa follows up his 2016 MVP campaign with a second-consecutive season finishing as the Golden Boot runner-up after scoring 22 goals and adding nine assists. Spain’s all-time leading scorer and a FIFA World Cup winner, Villa is one of only two players in league history to register consecutive 20-plus goal campaigns.
Giovinco helped lead Toronto to an historic season with the most points in an MLS season (69) with the Italian scoring 16 goals and providing six assists. With six free kick goals, Giovinco set a season MLS record while also becoming the all-time career leader in league history (13 career free kick goals).
Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri became the second player to record a 20-goal, 10-assist season in MLS, finishing with 21 goals and 11 assists to lead Portland to the top seed in the Western Conference. The Argentine’s 33 combined goals and assists ranks tied for fifth most in league history, while his nine consecutive matches with a goal scored earlier this season set a new MLS record.
Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolić joined Valeri and Villa as 20-plus goal scorers in 2017, the fourth time in league history three players have scored 20 or more goals in the same season. The 2017 Golden Boot winner (24 goals) finished as the leading goalscorer in his respective league for the fourth consecutive season, accomplishing the feat across three different countries.
Rounding out the MVP finalists is Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almirón, who helped his club become the third active MLS expansion team to make the postseason thanks to a nine-goal, 14-assist season. The 23-year-old Paraguay international paced an Atlanta attack that ranked second in the league with 70 goals scored, an MLS expansion team record.