Toronto FC's record-setting season was bound to lead to plenty of awards for the key figures involved, and head coach Greg Vanney was the first, earning MLS Coach of the Year honors on Monday. If it were up to Vanney, one of his players would be joining him among the league's top award honorees.
The MLS MVP will be announced on Monday, and as far as Vanney is concerned, the Landon Donovan Award should be heading up to Canada along with his coaching honors, to add to a collection of hardware that already includes the 2017 MLS Supporters' Shield after breaking the league record for points in a season.
"I think the MVP should come from our team," Vanney told Goal. "We’ve had the best regular season, it’s been a historical regular season."
Sebastian Giovinco is one of the five finalists for the MVP award, though he is considered a long shot to win, with Portland's Diego Valeri and reigning 2016 MLS MVP David Villa regarded as the favorites. Giovinco had another outstanding season for TFC, but his production has dipped for the second straight year as he has struggled to match the incredible numbers he posted during his MVP season in 2015.
Another TFC player who some believe was a worthy MVP candidate is Michael Bradley, though he failed to make the list of five finalists for the award. Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch stated earlier in the playoffs that he believes Bradley was the MVP of the league this season. Vanney believes Bradley didn't generate as much MVP consideration because his role as a defensive midfielder doesn't generate as much buzz as the attacking positions the award traditionally goes to.
"I think it’s a position that’s not a glorified position, but for me it’s the key to a team in a lot of ways," Vanney said. "It’s the piece that connects what’s happening in the back to what’s happening in the front on both sides of the ball. If you have stability in that position you can really build around that. Michael gives us that stability, we’ve been able to build around that and get the appropriate types of guys in the right positions."
Much like a parent who wouldn't admit to having a favorite child, Vanney wasn't about to pick which of his players was most deserving of the MVP award, but believes Bradley is among a group of TFC players who were worthy of consideration.
"I think he’s done an amazing job being sort of the centerpiece of the team, but we also have other guys who can make incredible plays," Vanney said. "Take your pick. They can give the MVP award to our team if they want. I’ll take that too. It’s a lot easier for me."
The though MVP award seems unlikely to head to Toronto this season, Vanney's team will look to move a step closer to securing the most important piece of hardware — the MLS Cup — by beating the Columbus Crew in Wednesday's Eastern Conference final second leg.