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De Rosario, Davis or Shea? Predicting who voted for whom

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Dwayne De Rosario
Handicapping the MLS MVP race is kinda like handicapping an election.

On Monday, MLS announced the final three candidates for the award — Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, midfielder Brad Davis and forward Brek Shea.
Like an election night, even though the votes have been cast (I completed my ballot after the last weekend of the regular season), we watch the counting of the results as if the balloting is happening in front of our eyes.

It should come down to a battle of the former Houston teammates, De Rosario and Davis. Shea, like FC Dallas, faded down the stretch, and did very little in the final two months of the season. You can’t consider a player a true MVP if he has as poor a stretch run as Shea did. He has to be seen as the third-place finisher in this group.

De Rosario did keep on scoring down the stretch, but his D.C. United team couldn’t keep the ball out of its own net. He has to deal with the simple truth that the team with which he spent the majority of the season did not make the playoffs. Some will make a big deal out of the fact that De Rosario played for three teams this season, but most voters will understand that Toronto FC traded him because of a contract dispute, not poor on-field performance. And New York voters know that he was dealt to D.C. United to make cap room for Designated Player keeper Frank Rost. In fact some NY votes might be influenced by how New York slumped after the Scarborough native left the club. It might be coincidence, but it’s a coincidence that may have worked in DeRo’s favour.

Davis helped Houston to get to the MLS Cup game, but likely won’t play because of injury. He’s an assist machine for a Dynamo team that wasn’t expected to do much this year. But, the voting was cut off at the end of the regular season, so no one could place stock at just how far Davis helped Houston get.

He will be judged as a great player for a playoff team that not many would have picked to go all the way to the final.

Brad Davis
DeRo was the MLS’ leading scorer and will get some votes from MLS vets who would give him the MVP as a sort of lifetime achievement award. Davis was the man behind the Houston revival.

It will be an interesting count. Media votes, as do current MLS players and team officials, from management to coaches to PR people.

So, my guess is the voting will likely come down to what areas gave players their the strongest shows of support. Just like there are red states and blue states, Tory strongholds and NDP Quebec, the players will have shows of strength throughout the various MLS cities, based on where they’ve played, who they have impressed.

Remember that these are the three finalists; there were many more players on the ballot. So, you have to look at who gets second-place votes in places like San Jose, where Chris Wondolowski will get votes. But, it may be a question of who gets more second-place votes, Davis or DeRo?

Canada: Have to think that DeRo is as safe with voters across Canada as Stephen Harper is with voters in Alberta and the 905. Despite a faction of TFC fans who have chosen the revisionist-history route and have sidled the club’s all-time leading scorer with the “MeRo” tag, the fact is most Canadian voters will likely have gone with their guy. (And, to be fair to that faction of TFC fans, when players leave a club on bad terms, there’s always bitterness shown to them by their fans. There are Arsenal fans who now claim that Samir Nasri wasn’t that good.)

Washington, D.C.: Safe DeRo territory.

This might be the deciding city. Davis will get first-place votes; but did De Rosario, who still has cachet with the Dynamo organization, get key second-place votes?

Dallas: Shea will have earned votes, as will keeper Kevin Hartman. Not a lot of votes there for either Davis or DeRo. But if there are other votes, remember that Davis plays in the same state.

Salt Lake City: Kyle Beckerman voters will surface here. Who gets second?

New York: Have to think DeRo will get support because of how poor the Red Bulls were after he left — and how well he played against them as a member of D.C. United.

And, while other cities will be toss-ups, the key to DeRo winning the MVP award may just be the thing that some think would hold him back — playing for three teams in just one year. He still has support in Toronto, New York voters will use the pre- and post-DeRo Red Bulls as a measuring stick, and he has D.C. in the bag.

That could give him the electoral college, to use American lingo. Or, for us Canadians, he’s got the 905, Alberta and most of the west.

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