By DAN KARELL
Based purely on statistics, no player was more important to their team over the course of the 2013 MLS regular season than Los Angeles Galaxy designated player Robbie Keane.
With the departure of David Beckham, the late return of Landon Donovan from his sabbatical, and the early-season trade of Mike Magee, even more pressure was placed on the back of the Ireland international, and he stepped up in a big way. Even though he only played in 23 games this season due to international call-ups and injuries, Keane was one of just two players to record at least 10 goals and 10 assists (16 goals, 11 assists on the season) and the Galaxy was 12-3-8 with Keane on the field in the regular season.
Without him, Bruce Arena’s side went 3-8-0.
But even beyond a statistical standpoint, Keane’s presence on the field was a massive boost to a side that is in a bit of a transformation period, with youngsters like Gyasi Zardes, Jose Villarreal, Kofi Opare, and Jack McBean all seeing significant playing time during the course of the season.
Even when Keane wasn’t scoring or dishing out assists, the 33-year-old forward attracted defenders away from his teammates, giving them ample opportunities to succeed.
Despite failing to reproduce his postseason performances from last season as the Galaxy fell, 2-1 on aggregate, to Real Salt Lake, Keane was voted as SBI’s 2013 MLS Most Valuable Player.
Keane beat out a deep field of contenders for the honor. Here is a rundown of the runners-up:
Between the Galaxy and the Chicago Fire, Mike Magee proved to be one of MLS’ most lethal goal-scorers. Magee, who finished with 21 goals on the season, nearly single-handedly carried the Fire on his back late in the season, as they made an unsuccessful push towards clinching a place in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Though it took him some time to find his goal-scoring boots, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill turned into one of the team and league’s most valuable assets, playing anywhere from striker to defensive midfielder. After scoring just once in his first 20 games in MLS, Cahill scored 11 times in his next 19 games to go with five assists on the year.
MARCO DI VAIO
Like Cahil, Di Vaio took some time to settle into MLS. But once he did, the Italian striker was as lethal as he has been nearly everywhere that he’s played. The Montreal Impact forward scored 20 goals and had two assists on the season, though he tired late in the year, scoring just once in his final five appearances.
There were plenty of other candidates for the award this season, such as Camilo Sanvezzo, Diego Valeri, or Javier Morales, but Keane and the three others above stood out from the rest as voted by the SBI staff.
What did you think of our selection? Which player stood out to you as MVP in 2013?
Share your thoughts below.