Columbus Crew SC’s Federico Higuain and Gyasi Zardes are among the 43 players eligible to receive the Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player award, Major League Soccer announced on Monday, when the finalists for the eight categories were released. The Black & Gold are represented in each of them, with 11 players and head coach Gregg Berhalter competing for the awards.
Players, media and technical staff will vote for each category, with each group representing a third of the vote. Those same voters will also submit their votes for the annual Best XI, open to any player who appeared in a 2018 MLS regular season match. Voting started on Monday and the winners will be announced on Oct. 31.
Higuain, who has played for the Crew since 2012, recorded five goals and eight assists in 28 matches (25 starts) so far in 2018. Zardes, who is on his first year with club, has already tied for a career-year in goals, with 16 in 31 matches (all starts). They compete with 41 players for other 18 franchises — just the Colorado Rapids and the Chicago Fire are not represented — for the MVP award.
The Black & Gold also have two players competing for the Defender of the Year award. Ghanaians Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah are the ones in contention. A regular for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Zack Steffen is one of the 21 athletes listed for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year award.
The Crew is also represented by two players, midfielder Eduardo Sosa and fullback Milton Valenzuela, in the contest for Newcomer of the Year. The young players are, however, competing with some of the league’s heavyweights, such as LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Los Angeles Football Club’s Carlos Vela.
Team captain Wil Trapp is among the 21 playes shortlisted for the MLS Works Humanitarian of the Year award. Columbus has a decent chance of taking home the AT&T Rookie of the Year award as midfielder Luis Argudo and Edward Opoku are among the 15 finalists.
The Black & Gold also have double chances in the Comeback of the Year category, where defender Gaston Sauro and Zardes were included in the ballot. Berhalter is one of the 17 options for the Coach of the Year award.
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