June 9, 2023

Top five leading candidates for 2023 MLS MVP award

After nearly one-third of the MLS season being played, several players have shown out with the stellar performances and helped propel their teams in their respective conferences.

Which players are leading candidates for the 2023 Landon Donovan MLS MVP award?

Cristian Espinoza

Espinoza is in great form. / John Todd/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The San Jose Earthquakes are flying high this season behind their main man, Cristian Espinoza. The Argentina international has contributed eight goals and three assists this season and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

Under first year head coach Luchi Gonzalez, San Jose looks poised to make a return to the MLS playoffs for the first time since 2020. San Jose has collected 18 points this season which is good enough for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Jordan Morris

Morris is leading the Sounders. / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

The veteran U.S. international has enjoyed a solid start to the season for Seattle, tallying eight goals so far this season. His goals have propelled the Sounders to the top of the Western Conference with 20 points after 11 games played.

The Sounders will look to lean on Morris’ goals and leadership as they seek a return to the postseason after missing out in 2022.

Denis Bouanga

Bouanga has scored a lot of goals. / Bob Drebin/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Denis Bouanga can’t stop scoring. LAFC’s talisman has eight goals and one assist in nine games played (with another six goals and four assists in the Concacaf Champions League). His goals see LAFC sit in third place in the West with 18 points.

LAFC are into the CCL final and are favorites to win the MLS Cup as well as the US Open Cup. A treble just might be on the cards for the Western Conference team behind Denis Bouanga’s goals.

Nashville SC v New England Revolution

Mukhtar has pulled the strings. / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Nashville SC are in pole position to make the playoffs for the fourth straight season in their fourth year of MLS existence. The driving force behind their success this season has been Hany Mukhtar.

The German has scored six goals and added four assist in 10 games played. Mukhtar put on a clinic against Southeastern foes Atlanta United, grabbing the assist that sealed the victory for Nashville.

Of course.

Of course. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Atlanta United’s recent struggles in the past few weeks, Thiago Almada has been among the top performers in the league this season. He’s scored two free-kick golazos that were picture perfect, one coming against the San Jose Earthquakes late in stoppage time to win the game.

The young World Cup winner with Argentina has tallied five goals and five assists in nine matches this season, and Almada leads the team in both categories. The Five Stripes sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference Standings with 18 points. Without the star midfielder, Atlanta has struggled to create at times (see the 6-1 loss vs the Columbus Crew).