I am not sure why MLS decided to bury this announcement at 6:30 am, but they did and the 2011 VW MLS MVP is DC United's Dwayne DeRosario. DeRo played with three teams this season, starting in his native Toronto, moving south to New York and then finding himself playing in DC. Along the way, DeRosario racked up 16 goals and 12 assists to win the Golden Boot this year (on the strength of his assists after tying with San Jose Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski with 16 goals each). DeRosario's production (including two hat tricks this season) is one of the reasons why DC United was in the playoff hunt until the final two match days.
But was DeRosario really the LEAGUE MVP this year. I am a DC United Fan and I have to say No.
Was DeRo the DC United MVP? Absolutely, without a doubt. DC would not have been within a sniff of the playoffs without him (and while his clearly one of the best to play in MLS ever, I was not sure I wanted to give up Dax McCarthy in favor of DeRosario, but looking back it was a smart piece of business by DC). DeRo earned the Golden Boot with a better goal conversion ratio that Wondolowski). DeRo was fourth on the assists leaders list behind Brad Davis (16), David Beckham (15) and Seattle's Mauro Rosales (14). DeRo was a leader and a warrior on the pitch, creating something out of nothing at times. So as a team MVP, he is a no brainer.
But MVP of the League? I don't think so.
First, I just have this aversion to naming someone a league MVP from a team that doesn't make the playoffs. Sorry, but to be valuable, you have to do more than just perform in the regular season, your contributions have to be such that your team doesn't make the playoffs without your efforts. So, while DeRo got the Black & Red close, he and his team didn't close the deal.
Second, he played for three teams this year. Granted, most of his goals and assists came while at DC, but not all of them. It just feels funny to name an MVP who played with three clubs this year. How can a player who played with three clubs be THE MOST Valuable Player?
Third, this smacks of a career award, not a year award. There is no doubt about DeRo's accomplishments in this league. He was won championships, he has also won now the Golden Boot. He has been a key figure in MLS history and arguably one of the best and most consistent players in the league, year in and year out. At age 33, he still has a few years in the gas tank (I hope), and he is interested in winning another MLS Cup. DeRo had a great season and while it deserves recognition, it seems to me that his peers, the media and the club officials are rewarding a long, successful career by, pardon the terminology, bootstrapping a Golden Boot year.
My vote for MVP was Brad Davis, Houston's left-footed playmaker. Without Davis, Houston would not have made the playoffs, would not have made it to the Conference Finals. His leadership on the pitch, the fact that he creates so many scoring chances for his club, his set piece wizardry, his never say die attitude and work ethic he projects is what drove Houston to the MLS Cup.
As a DC United Fan, it is hard for me not to relish in DeRo's performance this year in only 18 games for the Black & Red. I am happy he won the Golden Boot, I am happy he is performing at the level he is at. I am glad that DC United is working to secure his services for a couple more years (Note to Ben Olsen and Kevin Payne--three years would be nice). But his selection as the League MVP is a good, but wrong decision.