Alexi Lalas MLS blog: Brek Shea gets my nod for 2011's MVP - who gets yours?

Welcome to MirrorFootball's new MLS blog, brought to you in conjunction with ESPN. Every week USA legend Alexi Lalas will be on hand to bring you the latest news from the States, and you'll also be able to watch the week's best goals and highlights...

Three goals aren't always better than one.

Last weekend DC United, powered by Dwayne De Rosario’s hat trick, won 4-1.

The trio of strikes vaulted DeRo to the top of the MLS goal-scorers table, and also put the Canadian international into the discussion for MVP of the league.

Each year the MVP award usually generates more controversy and disagreement than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame nominees. (Donna Summer? Really?) Endless hours are spent discussing semantics and/or what criteria should be used to judge the MVP.

Truth is, there is no right answer. Which is why I love every minute of the debate.

And while it pains me, a former defender, to admit it, I usually vote for goal-scorers. Scoring a goal is the only way to win a match, so there is nothing more “valuable” than those that do it. (Deep huh?).

But I look at goals through a filter. Mainly, I’m not always as impressed with the guy who scores the most goals in total. For me, I want the guy who scores in more games, even if his season total might not give him the Golden Boot.

Oh, and I also discount penalties. I’m sorry; they just don’t hold the same value to me as goals from the run of play. I even think that penalties should be a separate statistical column. I’m not saying they aren’t important. But they can often warp perception and skew assessment of a player.

Finally, I think a league MVP should be on a successful team and be inextricable from the team’s success.

So, for me, right now, my MLS MVP would be FC Dallas’ left-winger Brek Shea. He’s got 10 goals, scored over 10 games and 0 penalties. Plus, his team is in 4th place overall despite losing last year’s league MVP David Ferreira for most of the season to injury.

Of course there’s a month of the regular season to go, so a lot can happen. I can be swayed by a strong finish.

Now having read my Mirror blog all year, you qualify as something of an MLS expert yourself. Which means that, with a month left in the season, you need to start thinking about your 2011 MVP. Trust me, it’ll make for a nice break from vilifying Carlos Tevez and calling for Steve Kean’s head.

Just put your pint down, turn to your mates, and say something like: “Lalas is a bloated buffoon. It’s about overall quality, not goal-scoring. Houston’s Brad Davis or LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez or Seattle’s Mauro Rosales or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman is the only real choice for MLS MVP this season.”

Even if your mates look at you like you’ve just announced how much you adore Air Supply, hopefully you will also incite some interesting discussion about what constitutes value on the pitch and how to assess it.

And when it’s all over, you can buy a round or two for bringing up MLS in your local. Don¹t worry, I’m sure MLS commissioner Don Garber will be glad to reimburse you.

You see an MVP award is and always has been in the eye of the beholder. There are plenty of candidates worthy of your support. But regardless of your selection, you¹ll find someone who disagrees. So stand up for your man.

Alexi Lalas is a lead football analyst for ESPN - the live and exclusive broadcaster of Major League Soccer in the UK. Watch ESPN’s live coverage of New York Red Bulls v LA Galaxy live at 1am on Tuesday 4th October. ESPN and ESPN America are the home of major sports from the US, including NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL Monday Night Football, and NCAA US college sports. For details visit www.espn.co.uk/tv

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