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MLS MVP Went to the Wrong Guy, and That's Okay

MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario. And that's okay.
MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario. And that's okay.

I've gone on the record saying I don't think Dwayne De Rosario has earned the MLS Most Valuable Player award. Now that De Rosario has picked up the prize I haven't changed my mind. Counter-arguments to my earlier article went along the lines of "statistically, De Rosario obviously really didn't make his teams significantly worse; the number of points they dropped is margin-of-error stuff" (true, and yet not a compelling argument for MVP) and "what put DC United's season in the toilet was losing Dejan Jakovic" (which is a compelling MVP argument for Dejan Jakovic).

So how upset am I over De Rosario's undeserved victory? Actually, I'm sort of pleased, both for him and for his country.

De Rosario is one of the five best players in MLS history... you could make an argument for his being the very best. The fact that De Rosario had never won a Most Valuable Player award in his career to this point is staggering but logical: he's had a lot of seasons as the third-best player in the league but none where he was the alpha male. His is a story of sustained value, not momentary brilliance.

However, sports history tells us that the player who's an 8 out of 10 for ten years tends to be forgotten next to the player who's a 10 out of 10 for two. Just last week, ice hockey's Hall of Fame inducted Doug Gilmour, best known for a couple spectacular seasons with Canada's most popular team, into its ranks despite career statistics that are by no means historically dominant. Meanwhile a player like Adam Oates, who bounced between teams and never challenged for the MVP but put together a far greater career than Gilmour's, remains outside of the Hall of Fame.

I don't like Dwayne De Rosario but I appreciate his impact on North American soccer history. In spite of his lukewarm attitude towards the Canadian national team De Rosario's also been a great ambassador for Canadian soccer as a whole. It would be a pity if, twenty years from now, his incredible career were to be diminished by a lack of individual accolades; that he would be forgotten as future journalists parsed the lists of award winners and seldom saw his name.

So no, Dwayne De Rosario was not Major League Soccer's most valuable player in 2011. But I'm still a little glad he won.