LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan was today named the 2009 Volkswagen Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player. Donovan claimed the award, the first MVP award of his MLS career, over fellow finalists Jeff Cunningham of FC Dallas and Shalrie Joseph of the New England Revolution after garnering the most votes in polling of MLS players, general managers, coaches and members of the media.
The winner of the Galaxy’s Most Valuable Player and Budweiser Golden Boot awards this season, he led the club with 12 goals and six assists in 25 games, despite missing a month of the season while at the FIFA Confederations Cup with the U.S. National Team. This was the fourth time in his five seasons with the Galaxy that he led the team in both goals and assists. He was a finalist for the MLS MVP award in 2008 when he scored a career-best 20 goals, but lost out on the award to Guillermo Barros Schelotto of the Columbus Crew.
Three of Donovan’s 12 goals this season were game-winners while five of his goals came in the final 15 minutes of games to turn loses into draws or draws into victories. The Player of the Month for July, Donovan helped lead the Galaxy to a first place finish in the Western Conference with a 12-6-12 record on the season, just one year removed from finishing the season tied for the worst record in the league.
The 27-year-old Donovan, who was named to the MLS All-Star Team for the ninth consecutive season, is also the leading scorer so far in the 2009 MLS Cup Playoffs, scoring in all three of the Galaxy’s playoff games this season. His goal against Houston in extratime on Friday was the 17th postseason goal of his MLS career, making him the all-time leading scorer in MLS postseason history.
Donovan joins Carlos Ruiz as the only Galaxy players ever to be selected the league’s Most Valuable Player. Ruiz was named the MLS MVP in 2002 when he scored a club record 24 goals to lead the Galaxy to the first MLS Cup championship in club history.
This will be the sixth time in league history, and the second straight season, that the MLS MVP will also play in the MLS Cup. Three of the previous five MVP winners who went on to reach the MLS Cup ended up winning the title, with all three of those, Tony Meola in 2000, Carlos Ruiz in 2002 and Guillermo Barros Schelotto in 2008, also winning the MLS Cup MVP award.
Donovan and the Galaxy will aim to win the third MLS Cup in club history on Sunday, November 22 when they take on Real Salt Lake in MLS Cup 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle. This game will be shown live on ESPN and Galavision starting at 5:30 p.m. (PT).