By IVES GALARCEP
When the Portland Timbers acquired Will Johnson from Real Salt Lake, the Canadian midfielder was seen as the perfect piece of the puzzle for new Timbers head coach Caleb Porter.
What Portland fans have learned is what many an RSL fan already knew, that Johnson is a dynamic box-to-box player who instantly makes any team he’s on better. Johnson has taken his game to a new level though, thriving in Porter’s 4-3-3 system, and making the most of being handed the Timbers captaincy.
The result has been a half-season worth of SBI’s Mid-Season MVP honors as the top player in the league through the first half of the 2013 campaign.
Johnson edged out a field that included several worthy candidates, from goal-scoring wiz Jack McInerney to Mike Magee.
Here is a run down of the candidates, as chosen by SBI editorial staff:
SBI MLS MID-SEASON MVP CANDIDATES
1. WILL JOHNSON
The locker room leader, midfield engine and heartbeat of a team that has exceeded expectations like no other team in MLS. Johnson has flourished in Portland and it’s tough to see anybody meaning more to their team in the season’s first half than Johnson.
2. MIKE MAGEE
Gave Johnson a serious run for the top spot given his outstanding impact on the Chicago Fire since joining them. At the rate he is going, Magee has to be seen as a top contender for the season-ending prize.
3. JACK MCINERNEY
Not sure MLS has ever had a bonafide 20-year-old MVP candidate, but McInerney certainly qualifies. His 10 goals have been vital in making the Philadelphia Union a legitimate playoff contender in a year they were expected to struggle.
4. MARCO DIVAIO
The leader of Montreal’s attack, and the driving force behind their strong first half, DiVaio has shown himself to be one of the best forwards in MLS. That isn’t much of a surprise, but Montreal will need him to keep up that pace if the Impact are going to avoid a second-half swoon.
5. CAMILO SANVEZZO
The Vancouver Whitecaps endured a rough start to the season, but their past month has seen a dramatic turnaround that has them right back in the playoff mix, and the leader of that surge has been Camilo. The Brazilian has been a goal machine in recent weeks and, with the help of Kenny Miller, has the Whitecaps playing some of the best soccer in the league.
Now it’s your turn to cast your vote for MLS Mid-Season MVP.
What do you think of our selections? Who got your vote for MLS Mid-Season MVP?
Share your thoughts below.