Major League Soccer MVP Candidate: Omar Gonzalez

Defenders don't tend to get a lot of love when it comes to MVP voting. But there's a compelling case to be made for Omar Gonzalez. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

LAG Confidential's Kayla Knapp makes the case that Omar Gonzalez, a defender, deserves consideration for Major League Soccer's MVP.

It's no secret that the LA Galaxy has arguably the best backline in MLS this season.  With only 25 goals against, the Galaxy lead the league in goals allowed and are the only team to have given up fewer than 30.

This feat is impressive, especially considering a mid-season injury to starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts that knocked him out of the starting lineup for more than half of the season. It forced backup goalie Josh Saunders to step in, and while Saunders has been fantastic, without the help of his defenders, the goals allowed would be much higher.

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

Omar Gonzalez is the key to the Galaxy's success on defense. The imposing 6-foot-5 center back has been a rock all season. Gonzalez is the glue that held the backline together as they were forced to deal with a number of injuries to defenders Leonardo and Gregg Berhalter.

Aside from his intimidating presence, Gonzalez is strong in the air, always in position, has incredible defensive ability and has even notched himself a pair of goals. In just his third MLS season, the 24-year-old has solidified his position as one of the best defenders in the league.

Yes, there are plenty of notable players in the league, even the Galaxy's own Landon Donovan and David Beckham are in the running for MVP. But what makes Gonzalez the MVP for the 2011 season is the importance his role on the best regular season team in MLS.

Offensively, the Galaxy haven't been at their best this season.  They have scored 47 goals, which is only good for fifth in the league. If it weren't for the strength of the defense, the Galaxy would not put have put together one of the best regular seasons in league history. Oh, and another thing: Gonzalez has made the MLS Team of the Week six time this season, compared with Donovan and Beckham who each only made it three times.

With a playoff spot and the Supporters' Shield firmly clinched, in large part due to the Galaxy's defensive efforts, it's a no-brainer that Omar Gonzalez should be strongly considered for the league MVP. 

Kayla Knapp is an editor at Galaxy blog LAG Confidential. Follow her on Twitter at @kknapp1.

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