Three Sounders make MLSsoccer.com's list of early MVP contenders

MLS early MVP contenders cover photo 5-26-21

Who doesn’t love Power Rankings?

Every week, MLSsoccer.com puts it out its pecking order for the hottest teams in the league, selected by the entire editorial staff. It should come as no surprise that the Supporters’ Shield-leading Seattle Sounders have been perched atop the Power Rankings for the past four weeks.

On Wednesday, the league released modified version of the weekly series, listing out the top early season contenders for MLS MVP. With Sounders FC setting the standard for the league through the first six weeks of the 2021 campaign, it makes sense that three players from the Rave Green cracked the list.

Up first is converted center back Nouhou, whose elite defensive performances warranted inclusion as one of just two defenders in the Honorable Mentions section.

Higher up the list, midfielder Cristian Roldan (No. 4) and striker Raúl Ruidíaz (No. 2) cracked the top five.

"Cristian is the first of two Sounders to make the top-five and for good reason," wrote MLSsoccer.com's J. Sam Jones. "He’s second in expected assists this year (behind our next person on this list) with 2.6 xA for the best team in the league. Other than that though, Roldan is the person on this list that’s most difficult to praise. Not because he isn’t worthy of praise, it’s just harder to articulate why he’s so valuable when he doesn’t put up the numbers of other players on this list. The best way to do it is probably this: The best things that happen to the Sounders happen because of Cristian Roldan. 

"In a year where Seattle entered with a lot of questions, Roldan has made answering them a lot easier. And they’ve clearly answered all of them despite Nicolás Lodeiro missing in the midfield. He’s one of those players who just feels like he’s everywhere at all times, he’s stepped up in Lodeiro’s absence, and Seattle wouldn’t be quite the same buzzsaw without him."

Whereas Roldan’s top-notch performances can be difficult to quantify, Ruidíaz’s numbers through the first six weeks make him an obvious contender for Major League Soccer MVP.

“Ruidiaz is second in the league in goals scored with six, first in xG+xA and he’s the best player on the best team in the league," noted Jones. "That’s a potent MVP combo. Like other Sounders, Ruidiaz may be hurt a bit here by being on a team where he’s surrounded by quality players. It’s hard to be the most valuable when the team would still be...well, at least pretty ok without you. He’s certainly the most valuable Sounder though. If he continues scoring at this rate and Seattle keeps winning, it’s going to be hard to deny him the award.”

Nouhou, Roldan, Ruidíaz and the rest of the squad return to action on Sunday as they host MLS newcomers Austin FC (6:30 p.m. PT; FS1, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS)

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