The MVP race in MLS is quite broad this year. There are four Sounders FC players that could be in conversations, well more than a dozen players overall and the "short list" has six players. It's a pretty crazy year, with many strong performances.
Two players stand above the rest - Robbie Keane (his case here) and the player Joe Roth wanted because he didn't have Robbie Keane. Obafemi Martins has been great this year, and he's not done yet.
"Like I said 15 goals is a record and I'm happy," Martins told the media on Tuesday, "but at the same time we have a lot of games to play and I think we're ready to score more goals and try to win games."
That's the difference. The numbers for Keane and Martins aren't that far apart (Henry's and Donovan's are similar too).
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That's two pretty similar dudes. Both are surrounded by other highly talented players. LA's three-headed beast (Keane, Donovan, Zardes) is potent. The Rave Green Hydra has many heads (Barrett, Cooper, Neagle) not quite to Zardes' level. There could be vote splitting, but let's hope that voters aren't silly. One of these teams is going to go down in history among the best in MLS - both could.
Both Robbie and Oba are finishers and passers, their one main difference is on their defensive contributions. Keane isn't good at that aspect of the game, whereas Martins provides some help harassing the opposing backline. Oba also tends to drop a bit deeper. These aspects may be team dependent. LA's defense doesn't need the help, and Seattle's does.
Another not great tie-breaker.
With or without you stats aren't that different either.
There are two things that separate the two. The first relates to how they do when their chief partner is not around. When Landon was still recovering from his sabbatical and getting match fit the Galaxy were led by Robbie. Robbie took them on a slow start to the season. Their first eight games were a mediocre 2-3-4.
When Oba doesn't have partner Clint Dempsey up top the Sounders are an amazing 5-2-1. The Martins powered Sounders are a strong team. He's had the best attacking season on a team with many attackers and with the most wins in the league.
The most wins in the league - that's the other thing where Martins value is more apparent. In such a narrow vote, with vote-splitting happening among most of the top candidates, there are tiny differences. Team performance is one of those. A win and a loss is worth more than two draws. Seattle wins games. If they end the season tied on points with the LA Galaxy (a fairly likely possibility) they will win the Supporters' Shield because of those wins.
One could choose many players for their MVP vote. Any of a dozen could be right, but the two that deserve the greatest look are Keane and Martins. One of those powers his team on his own better than the other and for that reason deserves the number one spot.
He's Seattle Sounders number nine, Obafemi Martins. He's not done yet.
"The fifteen goals is not enough for the team, especially because we need to be on top and we need to score more goals," Obafemi told the media Tuesday.