Who should win MLS season awards? Vote now!
The shortlists for the end-of-season Major League Soccer awards have been released. Who should win? Check our predictions, and vote for your choices! Our MLS experts Jeff Carlisle, Doug McIntyre, Jason Davis and Graham Parker make their picks for Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
Most Valuable Player
Jeff Carlisle: Sacha Kljestan, New York Red Bulls
Doug McIntyre: Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
Jason Davis: Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
Graham Parker: Sacha Kljestan, New York Red Bulls
In my opinion, the most deserving candidate was Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, but he didn't even make the top three, showing how an untimely injury can alter perceptions. His numbers (17 goals, 15 assists) and Toronto's stumbles down the stretch without him speak to his value.
Out of the three finalists, I would pick Sacha Kljestan, mostly due to the historic nature of his season. Only once before has a player cracked the 20-assist barrier, and that was Carlos Valderrama back in 2000, when the league was still in its infancy. Kljestan is also so important to what makes the Red Bulls go. As good as Bradley Wright-Phillips was, Kljestan was his primary supplier. It's a fine honor for a player who seems to keep getting better with age. -- Jeff Carlisle
Coach of the Year
Jeff Carlisle: Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas
Doug McIntyre: Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas
Jason Davis: Pablo Mastroeni, Colorado Rapids
Graham Parker: Patrick Vieira, New York City FC
No head coach did more with less in 2016 than Rapids boss Pablo Mastroeni. No head coach exceeded preseason expectations by a greater margin. Those two facts alone are enough to earn Mastroeni the nod for Coach of the Year, even in a season when both Patrick Vieira and Oscar Pareja have strong cases. Their teams certainly played more entertaining soccer than Mastroeni's side, but the award is not predicated on entertainment.
The Colorado Rapids won more games, earned more points and finished higher in the standings than anyone thought they could. They contended for a Supporters' Shield until the last day of the season. Despite a potentially disruptive change at goalkeeper, Mastroeni kept his side on a path toward a top seed in the West and a bye into the conference semifinals. For a team that did not have a double-digit goal scorer, that's a remarkable achievement. -- Jason Davis
Newcomer of the Year
Jeff Carlisle: Jelle van Damme, LA Galaxy
Doug McIntyre: Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle Sounders
Jason Davis: Jelle van Damme, LA Galaxy
Graham Parker: Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle Sounders
If we're talking strictly full-season contributions, then the solidity that Jelle van Damme provided to a transitional LA Galaxy team is worthy of recognition, and Ola Kamara's goals lit up a frustrating year for Columbus Crew SC.
But if you're talking about players whose arrival transformed their teams, you don't have to look farther than Nicolas Lodeiro. Continuing a burgeoning tradition of Argentine playmakers getting the keys to the car with MLS teams, Lodeiro arrived on a demoralized Seattle Sounders side who'd just lost their long-time coach and promptly helped drive the team to an unlikely playoff spot.
That he did so first with a dynamic attacking side in tandem with Clint Dempsey and then with a more pragmatic Sounders unit who ground out results post-Dempsey is all the more impressive for a midseason arrival being asked to adapt immediately to what was in effect not one but two teams. -- Graham Parker
Rookie of the Year
Jeff Carlisle: Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
Doug McIntyre: Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
Jason Davis: Keegan Rosenberry, Philadelphia Union
Graham Parker: Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
Ballyhooed MLS rookies have done better at matching the hype in recent years. Cyle Larin, last year's landslide award winner, was a revelation for expansion Orlando City SC. Jack Harrison, New York City FC's 19-year-old Englishman, mostly lived up to his press clippings this year. But no rookie since Freddy Adu has entered the league with the expectations that Jordan Morris faced as a first year pro in Seattle.
The homegrown star turned down a Bundesliga contract to sign with his local team, and with 12 goals, he did nothing short of carry the Sounders for long parts of this season while his every move was scrutinized. The spotlight grew even brighter when Seattle lost Clint Dempsey down the stretch after the U.S. star was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, but Morris met every challenge along the way -- including moves from wing to forward and back to wing. Seattle, now on the brink of a Western Conference final in part because of his play, wouldn't have come close to the playoffs without him. -- Doug McIntyre
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.