SAO PAULO (AP) – << ; 1 , 2 : Previous pages As much as I believe Brad Davis is the clear front-runner for MLS MVP honors, the reality is the race is wide open, and theres never any telling which way voters will be leaning when the ballots come out. Here is a look at the top candidates:
Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo Why he should win - Most consistent attacking player in the league all season, has carried the Dynamo to first place in the East. Currently tied for the league lead with 14 assists. Why he wont win - Voters love big goal totals, so a midfielder with just four goals isnt going to wow voters. Brek Shea, FC Dallas Why he should win - He absolutely carried the FC Dallas offense after it lost reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira early in the year. Shea blossomed into one of the most dangerous midfielders in the league, posting 10 goals and 3 assists. Why he wont win - After a grueling stretch of games in August and early September, he hit a wall and has seen his impact dip. A slow finish will cost him against candidates who perform well in the playoff chase. Mauro Rosales, Seattle Sounders Why he should win - The unquestioned engine of the high-powered Seattle offense, it was Rosaless playmaking ability that turned a struggling Sounders attack into one of the best in MLS despite the loss of Steve Zakuani. His 5 goals and 12 assists in 24 matches is impressive. Why he wont win - Ankle injury suffered a week ago could cost him a month of playing time at a key moment to impress voters. He also didnt get off to the strongest start to the season as he settled in with his new team. Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake Why he should win - Much like Davis, Beckerman has been a consistent high-level performer and has arguably been RSLs most reliable player all season long. He helped solidify the midfield after the loss of Javier Morales and played well enough to earn US national team consideration. Three goals and nine assists from a deep-lying midfield role stand out. Why he wont win - Defensive midfielders dont win MVP awards, though Beckermans sharp passing make him far more than some destroyer in the middle. Dwayne De Rosario, DC United Why he should win - Leagues leading scorer also has 10 assists and has been instrumental in pushing DC to the brink of a playoff berth. He has produced 10 goals and six assists for DC since joining in early July. If he keeps up that pace for the final month, he could walk away with the MVP award. Why he wont win - Largely ineffective during the first half of the MLS season, so much so that two teams, Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls, both traded him away. Should also be noted that large chunks of his stats have come in a few games. Eight of his 10 goals with DC United came in games vs. San Jose, Toronto FC and a RSL side playing mostly reserves. Jack Jewsbury, Portland Timbers Why he should win - Was the driving force behind the Timbers good start to the season, and has been a steady presence both in the attack and in supporting the defense all season. He leads Portland in goals (7) and assists (8). Why he wont win - Hasnt put up the offensive numbers in recent months that he did in the first half of the season, but more importantly, Timbers are looking like a playoff longshot right now. Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy Why he should win - Hes the leagues best player, and hes put together another strong season (12 goals) on the best team in MLS. Seems simple, doesnt it? Why he wont win - The Galaxy showed during the month of August, and during the occasions when Bruce Arena has rested Donovan, that they can win without him. Donovan also got off to a bit of a slow start before hitting an MVP-caliber stride just before the Gold Cup. His numbers are also below his usual production. Right now he has just three assists (he hasnt had fewer than six since 2002). Dominic Oduro, Chicago Fire Why he should win - The hottest striker in the league right now, Oduro has single-handedly helped boost the Fire offense and give Chicago some faint hope of a miracle run to the playoffs (his 11 goals are twice as many as the second-leading scorer on the Fire). Why he wont win - While he should lock-up MLS Most Improved Player, Oduro wont seriously be considered because the Fire were just too bad for too long this season. That said, he has put up extremely impressive numbers in an offense that floundered for more than half the season. Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls Why he should win - He shouldnt, but he makes the list because he was arguably the leagues MVP at the mid-way point of the season. He could merit consideration with a strong final month (he has 12 goals and 4 assists at the moment). Why he wont win - The Red Bulls have woefully underperformed, enduring a horrendous past two months. That, plus the fact that Henry takes too many games off to nurse injuries (or avoid playing on turf) to be considered a true MVP-caliber player. In fact, you could make the argument that Joel Lindpere is more MVP-worthy on the New York Red Bulls than Henry is. Sebastien Le Toux, Philadelphia Union Why he should win - He has been as important to the Unions survival over the past two months as any player has been to their team. His 8 goals and 8 assists are both team highs. Why he wont win - Didnt have the best first half of the season, and isnt a really strong candidate, but if he finishes strong he will get some votes.