In this playful piece, we pose a question or make a statement about something in soccer that will be opined about, agreed and disagreed on, by YOU, the reader. No more so-called experts giving safe, politically correct answers. Those days are over. Instead, we've opened the floor to everyone out there in Cyberland to throw in their two cents.
In February, we asked all you American footy-starved fans to dig out your Amazing Carnak caps and predict who will be the MLS MVP. With Preki down and out with a busted leg, we suggested foreign stars like Carlos Ruiz or John Spencer might fill the MVP void in '04. But you dug a little deeper and tabbed talented young Americans Taylor Twellman and Bobby Convey as your top two choices, with underdog selections from Brian Ching to Edson Buddle getting a nod as well. Below are the best of the best responses:
"My vote for MLS most valuable player would be Taylor Twellerman. Taylor has always been a one-man scoring machine for the Revs, and I see him leading the league in goals once again. With his scoring, having Pat Noonan ready to step up and help, and with the addition of Jose Cancela, I believe the Revs will have an even better season. Success in the standings and goals on the stat sheet should help DoubleT20 secure the MVP award."
--Jeffrey Moore / 21 / Gainesville, Fla.
"How can you ask the MVP question and not suggest Taylor Twellman? Taylor tied Carlos Ruiz in goals (15) in 2003 and missed a half dozen or so games compared to Carlos with two significant injuries. Taylor will be even more potent this year than he was in his rookie year and will finally win the MVP award for which he should have been awarded in 2002 as the New England Revolution claim their first MLS Cup."
--Len Spencer / 47 / Northboro, Mass.
"Taylor Twellman should be at the top of the list for MLS MVP honors in 2004. This guy is a seriously underappreciated player in MLS. His goals per minute average is absolutely insane. Despite being often injured he returns to the 2004 MLS season healthy and ready to lead Steve Nicol's side back for another playoff run. Partnered alongside Pat Noonan for a full season this year the two will represent probably the most dangerous scoring tandem in the league. With Noonan, or a healthy Joe Max Moore this will allow Taylor to be open in more big spots to continue his scoring fury. Hopefully it will also allow him to shy away from some of the big body blows he's regularly received from opposing defenders. If Twellman stays healthy he's a lock for MLS MVP 2004."
--Matt Pruitt / 24 / Boston, Mass.
"I believe the MVP / player of the year will also be this year's breakout player: Bobby Convey of D.C. United! Bobby has proved himself in his National Team efforts, most recently with the U-23 Olympic team and the U.S. MNT, and will prove to be a leader for D.C. United. He has skill, speed and agility, and is versatile in playing a supporting role or as a striker. I have been more impressed with Bobby than Landon in watching their training sessions and scrimmages over the past four months (in Carson) and feel this is the year of Bobby! My humble opinion."
--Grace Kennelly / 37 / Manhattan Beach, Calif.
"Bobby Convey will be the MVP of the 2004 MLS season. With the departure of Marco Etcheverry, Convey is ready to prove that he is ready to run DC's offense. He gained valuable experience as captain and midfield maestro of the U.S. U-20 World Championship team. Convey also played important roles with the U-23s and full men's national team. Motivation will come from his failed transfer to Tottenham Hotspur and the failure of the U.S. U-23s to qualify for the Olympics. SuperBobby's pace, vision, and work rate combine to make him a dangerous number 10. There is no doubt about his pedigree and skill; it will be the 2004 MLS season where Convey imposes his will on D.C. and MLS and becomes the league's most valuable player."
--Andrew Helms / 25 / Atlanta, Ga.
"I am looking for Carlos Ruiz to be better than he was in his 2002 campaign. The Galaxy have beefed up in the off-season with their incredibly disappointing 2003 campaign. With guys like Herzog and Kirovski, and possibly even Ngwenya if the Galaxy can work him in as a young rookie, Ruiz should be able to net at least 15. He finally has the help around him, so he may finally start to put up some assists and get others involved. Another guy to watch out for is Damani Ralph. If he can put up better numbers than last year he could have a serious case for MVP but he will need to prove himself, as will others such as Mike Magee and Ricardo Clark to show that they were not just one year wonders. John Spencer had a sensational year last season and could be another player in the running for MVP. Sometimes it seems like there's a magnet on the back of the net with Taylor Twellman's name on it because this guy just does not stop scoring. My prediction is that you will all be seeing Carlos Ruiz holding the MVP trophy and the MLS Cup if the Galaxy can gel and get some team chemistry."
-- Jeff Kassouf / 14 / New Paltz, N.Y.
"Edson Buddle will win the MLS MVP award in 2004. He has shown the Columbus Crew fans that he has skills beyond belief, and now he will see more of the ball without McBride on the team. Buddle's one problem could be his history of injuries, but he should make it through this year and light up the nets at Crew Stadium and everywhere else. Buddingham (yes, that's Buddle and Jeff Cunningham) will lead Columbus back to the top and the MLS Cup in 2004."
--MD / 17 / Ohio
"Eddie Pope of the MetroStars, if healthy, should be only the second defensive MVP in league history. Last season the Metros conceded a full goal-per-game more when Pope was not in the lineup. With a full season this year, Eddie will prove to MLS fans he is indeed the most valuable player in the league."
--Paul J. Dolan / 27 / New York, N.Y.
For April, the question is: Who will win the 2004 MLS Cup?
Here's the part where we normally give you a few choices to get the debate going and perhaps even lead your responses one way or another. But this time around you're not getting any help. This is just a test to see if you've been keeping up with your off-season homework or you tried to cram like crazy in the days leading up to the big final like the Armchair Midfielder did. Speaking of which . please, folks, no plagiarizing.
E-mail your BRIEF, but well-crafted rant to email@example.com. PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FULL NAME, AGE AND CITY OF RESIDENCE. Feel free to submit responses for as many months as you wish, but in the interest of sharing the spotlight, we will be giving space to different respondents from month to month.
Table of Contents
***HOW'S OUR WRITING?***
We want feedback. No, really. Positive, negative, indifferent--we take all kinds. Reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.