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MLS getting set to crown the Best of 2017 as finalists are announced


Best of MLS to be crowned as 2017 End of Year
Award Finalists are revealed

Landon Donovan MLS MVP comes down to Miguel Almirón, Nemanja Nikolić,
Diego Valeri, and previous winners Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa

NEW YORK (Tuesday, October 31, 2017) – Major League Soccer today announced the finalists for the 2017 End of Year Awards, honoring the league’s top performers during the 2017 MLS regular season.

A tightly contested race for the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award comes down to five finalists whose clubs made the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. The finalists include the two most recent MVP recipients, this year’s Golden Boot winner, and a pair of dazzling playmaking midfielders. New York City FC forward David Villa (2016 MVP) 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 ever in an MLS season (69 points), with the Italian scoring 16 goals and providing six assists. With six direct free kick goals in 2017, Giovinco set a single-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 ever to record a 20-goal, 10-assist season in MLS, finishing the year with 21 scores and 11 helpers 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 joins 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) finishes 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 National Teamer paced an Atlanta offensive attack that ranked second in the league with 70 goals scored, an MLS expansion team record.

In a similarly tight contest, the finalists for MLS Newcomer of the Year include Nikolić, Almirón and fellow Atlanta United teammate Josef Martínez. The dynamic Venezuelan forward finished his debut MLS season with 19 goals scored, the most ever by a player on an expansion team. Martínez’s three hat tricks in one season tie an MLS mark while his 0.95 goals per game average ranks third in league annals among players with at least five goals scored in a single season.

MLS Coach of the Year candidates include Toronto FC boss and Supporters’ Shield winner Greg Vanney, who led the Reds to a domestic double, additionally capturing the Canadian Championship. Also in the conversation is Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunović, who led a remarkable turnaround in 2016. After finishing with the worst record in MLS in 2016, Chicago rebounded to finish fourth in the Supporters’ Shield race and qualify for its first postseason since 2012. Rounding out the group is Atlanta United manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who helped his expansion side to record performances on the field and in the stands, as Atlanta set numerous MLS attendance marks aided by an exciting on-field product.

All 12 teams to make the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs have at least one award finalist, with Atlanta United leading all teams with five finalists followed by Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire with four each.

The finalists for each award are listed in alphabetical order below, as well as the announcement schedule for the winner of each.

The finalists earned the most votes in polling of three voting groups:

  • Current MLS players
  • MLS Clubs (Coaches, Technical Directors/General Managers)
  • Media members who consistently covered the 2017 MLS Regular Season

The AT&T Goal of the Year and MLS Save of the Year will be decided by online voting or the free MLS app from now through November 14.

2017 Major League Soccer Awards Finalists
(Listed in alphabetical order by last name within each award category)

Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Finalists
Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United)
Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
Nemanja Nikolić (Chicago Fire)
Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
David Villa (New York City FC)

Defender of the Year Finalists
Justin Morrow (Toronto FC)
Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City)
Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year Finalists
Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC)
Tim Melia (Sporting Kansas City)

Newcomer of the Year Finalists
For this award, “newcomer” is defined as a player with previous professional experience who made his MLS debut in 2017
Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United)
Josef Martínez (Atlanta United)
Nemanja Nikolić (Chicago Fire)

AT&T Rookie of the Year Finalists
For this award, “rookie” is defined as a player without previous professional experience who made his MLS debut in 2017
Abu Danladi (Minnesota United FC)
Jack Elliott (Philadelphia Union)
Julian Gressel (Atlanta United)

Coach of the Year Finalists
Gerardo “Tata” Martino (Atlanta United)
Veljko Paunović (Chicago Fire)
Greg Vanney (Toronto FC)

Comeback Player of the Year Finalists
Honors an MLS player who has overcome injuries and/or adversity in order to achieve success during the 2017 regular season
Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC)
Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew SC)
Erick Torres (Houston Dynamo)

MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by AdvoCare, Finalists
Ryan Hollingshead (FC Dallas)
Matt Lampson (Chicago Fire)
Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)

MLS Fair Play Finalists – Individual
Selected by MLS based on objective criteria such as fouls committed, cards received, games and minutes played, as well as subjective evaluation of sportsmanlike behavior.
DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo)
Jahmir Hyka (San Jose Earthquakes)
Dave Romney (LA Galaxy)

MLS Fair Play Finalists – Team
Selected by MLS based on objective criteria such as fewest fouls committed, cards received, and on subjective evaluation of sportsmanlike behavior.
Chicago Fire
Seattle Sounders FC
Toronto FC

Referee of the Year Finalists
Allen Chapman
Ismail Elfath
Mark Geiger

Assistant Referee of the Year Finalists
Jeremy Hanson
Corey Parker
Adam Wienckowski

Awards Announcement Schedule:
Schedule subject to change
November 2: MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by AdvoCare
November 7: MLS Referee and Assistant Referee of the Year; Fair Play Award – Individual and Team
November 8: AT&T Rookie of the Year
November 9: MLS Defender of the Year
November 14: AT&T Goal of the Year and MLS Save of the Year
November 15: MLS Comeback Player of the Year
November 16: Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year
November 20: Newcomer of the Year
November 27: MLS Coach of the Year
November 28: MLS Best XI
December 4: Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player