Villa, Wright-Phillips, Kljestan named MVP finalists; Giovinco snubbed

Reuters

New York, New York.

Major League Soccer announced its three finalists for the 2016 Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player award on Tuesday, with New York City FC striker David Villa set to contest Red Bulls duo Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan for the league's most prestigious individual honor.

The Spaniard's 23 goals on the campaign were second only to Wright-Phillips (24), as the two city rivals battled for the Golden Boot until the final day of the regular season. Their potency in front of goal helped their two sides secure the top two spots in the Eastern Conference - though both did lose the opening legs of their respective semifinal ties this past weekend.

While he didn't find the net with the same frequency, 31-year-old midfielder Kljestan led the league with 20 assists, teeing up Wright-Phillips and others throughout the year, and serving as the creative hub for a side that finished with the second-highest goal tally of the season.

While Villa will likely be regarded as the favorite, he's far from a shoo-in.

The victor will be crowned on Dec. 6.

Last season's MVP, Sebastian Giovinco, was stunningly left off the list despite putting up another dominant campaign in which he carried Toronto FC for much of the year prior to an injury that sidelined him down the stretch - and likely caused his omission.

The diminutive Italian still finished the regular season with 17 goals and 15 assists, a combined point total that was unmatched in 2016.

He'll gladly take an MLS Cup title instead, to be sure.

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Villa, Wright-Phillips, Kljestan named MVP finalists; Giovinco snubbed
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