Entering the business stretch of the 2021 regular season, MLSsoccer.com unveiled its latest edition of MVP Power Rankings, with two Seattle Sounders players earning top five honors.
For Ruidíaz, MLSsoccer.com's editorial staff was swayed by his ruthlessness in front of goal and significant contributions to a team with the second-best record in the league.
"When you’re the top scorer on one of the two best teams in the league, you’re bound to get some MVP votes," wrote MLSsoccer.com's J. Sam Jones. "Ruidiaz is second in the league in goals scored, just two behind the impossibly hot (and somehow seven-time scorer from the penalty spot) Ola Kamara. He’s third in the league in non-penalty expected goals and remains the purest goalscorer in the league."
While Ruidíaz received plaudits for his mastery of the most important skill in soccer, João Paulo comes in at No. 3 on the back of his well-rounded, diversified skillset and overall influence on matches.
"And now we’re to the part of the month where we remind you that Joao Paulo is really, really good at practically everything you’d want someone to be good at on a soccer field," added Jones. "Among midfielders, he’s in the 89th percentile or higher in [ahem] assists, expected assists, shot-creating actions, passes, progressive passes and tackles. To name just a few.
"It’s highly likely he’s been the most complete midfielder in the league this season. Do that on one of the league’s two best teams and you’re going to get a good chunk of MVP votes. Joao Paulo has become the pick that proves you watch and understand soccer. And for good reason. That will take you far among media types and message board posters."
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