The word valuable is an adjective whose third definition; of considerable use, service, or importance, is applicable when placed between the words most and player in sports awards. Every season in American sports, journalists and fans bicker endlessly not only about who should win the coveted MVP award, but what are the actual criteria for the award.
The idea of an MVP has often been twisted and manipulated to fit the desires of the voting voices to award the best player in a league rather than the truly most valuable player. The same thing has become the norm in MLS every season as well and 2011 is of course no different. There have been voices trumpeting for the likes of Dwayne De Rosario, Brek Shea and others, but some have again forgotten the key adjective that is the ethos of the MVP award. Valuable.
Fortunately the SBN Soccer hive mind is smarter than that.
Enter Brad Davis, our pick here at SB Nation Soccer for the 2011 MLS MVP. You can try to talk away the season that Davis had for the Houston Dynamo, try to convince yourself that De Ro's goals or Shea's versatility are enough to take the award away from Davis, but you're being foolish. No player was more important to the success of his team than Brad Davis was to the Dynamo this season and if you can't see it, you've got team colored blinders on.
Most valuable players are not traded twice. Most valuable players don't tail off as the season goes on. They bring it the entire season, in every match and their team's success is magnfied because they are on the field.
The Dynamo's head coach Dominic Kinnear put it simple when asked about Davis back in October.
"If you take him out of our team, our record is different."
Nobody knows this fact better than Kinnear and the Dynamo fans who witnessed Davis' contributions throughout the 2011 season. Houston are playing for their third MLS Cup on Sunday because of Brad Davis, which makes it all the more disappointing that he won't be able to be on the field. He led MLS with 16 assists in the regular season, generated more scoring chances than any other player (according to OPTA), simply put, he was the offensive engine for his team.
As Kinnear and team president Chris Canetti worked all summer to find the right pieces to complete their roster, Davis kept the Dynamo going on the field, helping them to stay in the playoff hunt by playing in all 34 of the team's regular season matches, a feat made all the more impressive given Davis' struggles with injuries in the past.
Davis' 2011 season was the culmination of a path started in 2008 when Davis changed his entire fitness and nutritional regime in an attempt stay on the field more and reach the potential that Kinnear saw in him. Over the next two years Davis saw the results of his off-the-field work. In 2006 Davis had 11 assists, his only double-digit assist season of his career through 2008. In 2009 and 2010 he had 12, in 2011 he set a new career-high with 16. More importantly for the Dynamo, he was on the field more, breaking the 30-game barrier for the first time in his career.
It's that refocusing of his attention to detail, that dedication to making himself the best player he could possibly be that has led Davis to the best season of his career at the age of 30.
When Brad Davis is on the field for Houston, they are a better team and I doubt you'll find any person in the organization that doesn't feel the same way. That's a valuable player, that's an MVP. That's why my fellow writers here voted him our MVP and that's why he should win the official award on November 18th.