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Is Daniel Salloi the league MVP?

The season is more than half over. It’s time to discuss Salloi as the best of Major League Soccer.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Los Angeles FC Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been putting it off. Telling myself it was too soon or I was too biased or I just needed to wait because things couldn’t possibly continue this way. But the season is officially more than half over. So it’s time. I can’t wait anymore. It is time to start the official legitimate talk about Daniel Salloi as the league MVP.

As things currently stand, Salloi is leading Major League Soccer in combined goals and assists with 17. Salloi has 11 goals and 6 assists after 19 games. Carles Gil of the New England Revolution also has a combined total of 17. Gil has 2 goals and 15 assists after playing 20 games. After Salloi and Gil, the top leaders in goals and assists this season are Gustavo Bou of New England and Nani of Orlando City combining for 15 and Valentin Castellanos of NYCFC with a combination of goals and assists totaling 14.

One of the biggest questions when thinking about the league MVP is what exactly makes someone the Most Valuable Player? Is it only about the number of goals they score? If that’s the case then Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz is leading that list with 13 while Salloi is tied for third behind Ruidiaz and Goustavo Bou of the New England Revolution. Is it only about the number of assists? Then Salloi would sit in third place in that category alone. Is it only about the combined number of goals and assists? As mentioned above, Sallloi is tied for first in that category.

To me it is about goals and assists. It has to be. A team can’t win without goals so one would argue that the most valuable player should be a part of scoring a lot of goals in order to help the team win. In 2020, Alejandro Pozuelo was the league MVP and he was 8th on the list of most goals scored while leading the league in assists. But I would also argue that it isn’t only about how many goals and assists a player is able to tally. There is more to it than just the numbers

What matters most is how the player affects the game. That can be seen in goals and assists, but also in other moments as well. I don’t think you can argue about Daniel Salloi’s effect on Sporting Kansas City’s game this season.

With striker Alan Pulido out of the line up for several of Sporting’s first 19 matches, Sporting desperately needed someone to step up and take over the offense of the team. I doubt many people thought early in the season that player would be Salloi, but he has proven that he can and will step up and be the star of this team. Without his goal scoring, his assist making and his confidence, Sporting would probably not be sitting at the top of the Western Conference and fighting for the Supporter’s Shield at this point in the season.

Salloi consistently makes good runs to put himself in a position to score. He is able to get shots off quickly in and around the box. He has five game winning goals this season. He sees and attacks good passing lanes and sets up other players for goals as well. He is playing with confidence and that leads to massive success.

So what do we think? Sitting on top of the league leader board for combined goals and assists, making good runs, setting up and assisting others players, numerous game winning goals and playing with confidence. Are those qualities and results enough to make Salloi Kansas City’s first league MVP since Preki in 2003? Does it add him to a list of players like Pozuelo, Josef Martinez, Carlos Vela, Chris Wondolowski and other major stars of the league? I think that there is a very good possibility that we will have this conversation again in November.

But that leads to the biggest question remaining. Can Salloi keep playing at this pace and with this much success all the way through to November? How does the rest of the season go? Do other players in the league fall off or get better? That all remains to be seen, but I don’t think that at this point of the season you can have an MVP conversation without having Salloi at the top. The question isn’t if he should be in the conversation. The question is how many other players even belong in the conversation with him?