Keane is certainly deserving of the award after recording 19 goals and 14 assists in 29 games. The Designated Player is always deadly when on the field and is a big reason why the Galaxy are playing in the MLS Cup.
A bigger qualm can be raised in regards to Martins finishing above Nguyen. While Martins amassed more assists than Nguyen (13 to 5), Nguyen had more goals (18 to 17). Keep in mind that Nguyen posted these impressive numbers while operating as a pure midfielder.
A full breakdown of the vote provides another reason for concern:
|Player (Club)||% of Club Votes||% of Media Votes||% of Player Votes||Weighted Total|
|Robbie Keane (LA)||30.95||32.22||25.52||88.69|
|Obafemi Martins (SEA)||19.05||27.78||16.39||63.22|
|Lee Nguyen (NE)||21.43||18.89||17.22||57.54|
|Bradley Wright-Phillips (NY)||20.25||7.78||21.78||49.81|
The chart shows that Keane collected the highest percentage of votes in all three categories, which solidifies his status as MVP. A discrepancy, however, appears when looking at how the media voted in comparison to both club representatives and players.
In club votes, Nguyen finished behind Keane with Bradley Wright-Phillips and Martins trailing. BWP actually earned second in the player vote and is followed by Nguyen and Martins. The numbers in both categories are close, which made the media vote all the more important. In the end, the media overwhelmingly supported Martins, distorting the final positioning.
The MVP tally highlights that the voting media isn’t watching closely enough. Both Nguyen and Wright-Phillips were preferred by club officials and players, two groups that pay close attention to the league. The fact that Martins plays for a highly publicized team likely impacted the media vote.
It should be noted that some of the most respected names in soccer journalism threw their support behind Nguyen.
Steven Goff of the Washington Post voted for Nguyen, saying that "for his entertainment qualities and influence on an almost forgotten organization, Lee Nguyen is my MLS most valuable player." Goff claimed that Nguyen’s candidacy is strengthened by the fact that he isn’t surrounded by "high-caliber veterans" like the others.
Ives Galarcep of Goal.com also backed Nguyen, pointing out that a player’s value is measured by his worth to his team. Galarcep wrote that "Nguyen carried the Revs. He propelled them during their early-season success."
Keane ran away with the MVP title and there’s no question that he’s a worthy champion. The real problem, however, is with how the media vote affected the final standings. Although it’s great to get media involved with any matter concerning MLS, the league might want to be more selective when it comes to distributing votes.