Landon Donovan was named the 2009 MLS Most Valuable Player on Thursday, and while it is tough to argue against awarding the U.S. national team star for his performance this season, the MVP results still raised a glaring question.
What about Shalrie Joseph?
It isn't a question so much about choosing between Joseph and Donovan, which is a subjective debate that has supporters on both sides. The question is how can a player who so clearly carried his team to the playoffs and who enjoyed a career year winds up a distant third in the voting.
In case you missed the voting breakdown (votes are taken from players, coaches, general managers and media), Donovan finished with a weighted score of 39, while Jeff Cunningham wound up with a 25.3. And Joseph? He finished with a 17.6 total.
Those totals make no sense and are an insult to a season by Joseph that deserved far more respect.
With all due respect to Cunningham, he was invisible for half the season before going off on a goal-scoring tear in the second half. He became a goal machine, but also benefited from the stellar play of FC Dallas midfielders David Ferreira, Dave Van Den Bergh and Dax McCarty.
Joseph didn't take half the year off. He was a force from beginning of the season until the end, helping the team as a forward when the Revs were desperate for help up top, while also playing his usual dominant central midfield role the rest of the time. He took a Revs team that lost leading scorer Taylor Twellman for the season, and Steve Ralston for the stretch run, and dragged it into the playoffs.
So how in the world did Joseph finish a distant third in the voting? One possibility is the league's flawed voting process, which has all voters except for players providing a top three on their ballots, while players simply select one player. In fact, MLS players often ignore voting for post-season honors (voting isn't mandatory), which winds up hurting a player like Joseph, who is easily one of the most respected players in the league.
In the end, it is tough to argue against Donovan, who had somehow gone this long without winning an MVP award. He did enough this year to be an MVP winner, but he didn't just win. He ran away with the award in voting that should have been much closer than it wound up. Joseph deserved a better finish, and as far as I'm concerned, he deserved the MVP Award.
WHERE WILL SCHELOTTO GO?
With all signs pointing to Guillermo Barros Schelotto's days in Columbus being numbered, it is time to start thinking about what may be next for the 2008 MLS MVP.
Sources tell SBI that Schelotto is already looking into potential destinations within MLS, and Columbus may have no choice but to deal the Argentine star if it can't reach an agreement on a new contract. A deal seems unlikely given the Crew's lowball offer.
Schelotto could take a payday in Argentina, but he has enjoyed life here and appears intent on staying in MLS. Where might he wind up? If the Crew look for a trade that lands them the type of package D.C. United scored from Colorado for Christian Gomez then a trade may never happen, but
Who might be able to land Schelotto? The New York Red Bulls could use a player with Schelotto's playmaking ability (An Angel-Schelotto tandem would be outstanding), as could Chivas USA. One club that could use his attacking spark is Toronto FC, a club whose fans have come to despite Schelotto for his theatrics in past meetings with Toronto. Something tells me TFC fans would embrace Schelotto if he showed up wearing red (something also tells me that Crew fans might go crazy if their hero signed with their most hated rival).
There is no guarantee Schelotto will even return to MLS, but if he wants to stay in North America, there are too many teams in need of a player like him for a deal not to be made.
WHAT NOW AMADO?
Preki didn't waste much time making an impression on his team in Toronto. He has already let it be known that he will run a disciplined ship and will waste no time unloading players who don't make the grade. One player who seems destined to depart is Amado Guevara, but not just because of Preki's arrival.
Toronto FC has too many midfielders and needs money to sign a forward capable of addressing the team's most pressing need, a reliable goal scorer. With Julian DeGuzman and Sam Cronin looking set to run the central midfield, Guevara is expendable and will have plenty of teams interested in his services.
Who would be in the market for Guevara? The list would be similar to the list that would want Schelotto, but Guevara would probably be the cheaper of the two alternatives. Red Bulls fans would welcome Guevara with open arms, while the Honduran midfielder would probably be more inclined to return to Chivas USA with Preki out of the picture.
It will be interesting how much the interest in Guevara is diminished by the fact that he will likely miss between six weeks and two months of the 2010 season to play in the World Cup (yes, MLS is taking a break during the World Cup, but Guevara would miss time for the pre-World Cup camp, he'd miss time if Honduras reached the second round, and would likely miss a match or two as he recovers from the tournament). Teams in dire need of a playmaker might overlook that and consider what he could give the team the rest of the season.
What did you think of the MVP voting? Think Joseph got a raw deal? Could you picture Schelotto playing for another MLS team? Where do you see Guevara winding up?
Share your thoughts below.