Major League Soccer MVP Candidate: Osvaldo Alonso

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 4: Osvaldo Alonso #6 of the Seattle Sounders controls the ball against Clyde Simms #19 of D.C. United at RFK Stadium on May 4, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

Osvaldo Alonso's numbers don't pop out, but that's always the case with central midfielders. He is the most important player on one of MLS' top teams though and if the world is a just place, he will be the league MVP

The Seattle Sounders have been near the top of MLS all season long and garnering headlines for their play across all competitions. As is usually the case, the strikers and playmakers, Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales, have gotten the accolades along with the hometown favorite in his final season, Kasey Keller, but none of them is as valuable to the Sounders' success as Osvaldo Alonso.

MLS MVP Race

With 22 SB Nation Soccer editors casting ballots, 11 different players received at least some consideration. This table shows how many 1st and 2nd place votes, how many total points (3 for 1st, 2 for 2nd and 1 for 3rd) and how many ballots each player received. Click the player's name to go to their MVP profile:
1st 2nd total ballots
Brek Shea 5 4 28 13
Brad Davis 3 7 26 12
Mauro Rosales 3 4 21 11
Dwayne DeRosario 4 1 17 8
Fredy Montero 3 1 12 5
Landon Donovan 0 2 7 5
Thierry Henry 1 1 6 3
David Beckham 2 0 6 2
Osvaldo Alonso 1 1 5 2
Sebastien Le Toux 0 1 3 2
Omar Gonzalez 0 0 1 1

It's easy to quantify Montero's impact. He has 12 goals and eight assists in league play. Rosales has five goals and 13 assists in MLS. Numbers, proof, bam. Alonso, well he has just three goals and three assists. You can't really quantify the impact that he has made, but those who watch the Sounders know it.

It's rare that you see the Sounders beaten in the center of the pitch and while Brad Evans is a fine player, he's no superstar. Alonso does the bulk of the work in the center and wins the middle for Seattle match-in, match-out. There are plenty of physical, rangey tacklers in MLS though. What separate Alonso from the rest is not just his ability to win the ball, but his ability to turn defending into attacking so quickly. With his quick and smart passing, the Sounders transition as quickly as any team in the league.

When Montero was sidelined and then playing poorly with a cast following wrist surgery, the Sounders still got results. When Rosales was still trying to work his way into the starting lineup early on and then when he was sidelined with a knee injury, the Sounders still got results. No Sounders field player has more than 28 starts, except for Alonso, who has 31.

Alonso is the constant in the Seattle lineup. He's the one who strengthens the defense and begins the attack. He's the one who wins the most important part of the field. Numbers won't show it, but no player on the Sounders makes as many key plays as Alonso. The eyes don't lie. Alonso is the epitome of "the engine that makes his team go" and when you're the engine of one of MLS' top teams, you're also the league MVP. 

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