At the end of the MLS 2010 season we find ourselves awash in end-of-season awards. After some thought, I’ve decided to create one of my own… “Most Valuable Country 2010.” (MVC)
OK, I’ll admit that I entered into this thinking with a certain bias. I have two nations that are close to my heart – both in soccer-wise and otherwise – the USA and Colombia.
Since this is an American league, dominated by American players, I excluded the USA.
So I’ll admit it, I entered into this with the belief that my adopted second country had the inside track. But, I did my best to be objective by sifting through the official roster lists and comparing country contributions.
(Note that the MLS official player roster “NATL” (nationality) breakdown was almost frustrating enough for me to forgo this whole idea… many players were listed according to where they were born… which is fine, but means very little in the international soccer world. US International Pablo Mastroeni as Argentine? Reggae Boy Andy Williams as Canadian? Ugh. So, when I talk about how many numbers of players come from these countries, please understand your mileage will vary.)
Here are a few thoughts…
Argentina makes a very strong case for being MVC as it brings ten players to the mix and two of them at least are top class in Javier Morales and Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Add to those, the effective Fabian Espindola who was a solid contributor for Real Salt Lake, and a few other solid players, and you have a credible argument. And, if the ability to play a pickup game against some of the other countries in the showdown mattered, they bring a decent goalkeeper in Dario Sala.
Brazil’s argument about its MVC candidacy is a strong one. However, despite the undeniable depth and skillfulness of the MLS Brazilians, there are more role-players than stand-outs in that sixteen. Geovanni, Fred, Miglioranzi , etc. … all good players, but – I don’t see too many superstars – at least not this year.
Jamaica offers an impressive array of talent. Eleven MLS players are Jamaican internationals. Omar Cummings and Donovan Rickets lead a very strong talent pool. Andy Williams, Tyrone Marshall and Dane Richards all offer a glimpse into the strong role-players that Jamaica brings to bear in MLS.
Other honorable mentions go to Canada, Costa Rica and Ghana. Canada, in particular, brings a dozen players, and Dwayne De Rosario is their clear standout. Pat Onstad, Julian de Guzman and Will Johnson add some depth to the proceedings.
Both Costa Rica and Ghana have seven MLS players with solid resumes. Gonzalo Segares, Leo Gonzales and stellar newcomer Alvaro Saborio show the combination of skill and tenacity frequently displayed by better Costa Rican sides. Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro offer a taste of the speed and skill of Ghanian soccer.
But Colombia’s contribution trumps them all.
Starting in defense Jamison Olave, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Wilman Conde and Jair Benitez are top notch MLS defenders.
Colombia’s midfield contribution to MLS could have started and ended with David Ferreira and that would have been a strong enough argument right there. Ferreira is quite possibly the best player in MLS this year, a thought shared by a just-defeated Landon Donovan after FC Dallas – with Ferreira pulling the string – ran up a three to zero victory.
Colombia also provided us with Roger Torres, who shows significant potential – a potential Ferreira in the making?
At forward, Juan Pablo Angel and Fredy Montero are very different forwards, but both of them are inarguably among the top forwards in MLS.
So, emotion aside… I don’t see any real argument that (outside of the USA) Colombia was the country that brought the most to MLS this year.
Congratulations Colombia, Soccer Soap Box tips our sombrero vueltiao to you.
Enjoy your phony award.