With the All-Star break approaching, we hand out some premature awards to those around MLS who've impressed over the first half of the season.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
Seattle’s Stefan Frei and Vancouver’s David Ousted both deserve mentions but neither has been quite as impressive as Hamid.
The reigning Goalkeeper of the Year has picked up right where he left off last season, amassing 59 saves and six clean sheets in 16 games, as well as recording a goals against average of 0.75 – the second-lowest in the league.
Now facing around four weeks out after undergoing hand and knee surgeries earlier this month, the fact that United have taken just seven points from the six games he’s missed just further highlights his importance to the Eastern Conference leaders.
The likes of Montreal’s Laurent Ciman, Seattle’s Tyrone Mears and Vancouver’s Kendall Waston have all impressed this season but it’s hard to top Gonzalez when he’s been in the form of his life.
The US international has recorded a league-leading 78 interceptions, 130 clearances and won 81 aerial duels in his 19 appearances, while also racking up a goal and three assists thanks to his towering presence on set pieces.
After guiding Vancouver back to the post-season in 2014, Robinson’s second campaign at the helm looks set to prove even more fruitful.
The Canadian outfit’s 10 wins are joint-first in the league with Dallas, D.C. United and Seattle, while a record of 33 points from 21 games also sees them sitting in third place in the Western Conference.
With their attacking talent still to hit top form, the second half of 2015 could even see them contend for a first-ever Supporters’ Shield title if the likes of Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh perform to their full potential.
There have been some standout rookie performers in 2015, with San Jose’s Fatai Alashe and Chicago’s Matt Polster both making strong cases for the award, but Larin’s goalscoring impact makes him the clear front-runner.
The No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft wasn’t expected to make an immediate impact in Orlando but, with the expansion club’s other strikers misfiring, he has stepped up to fill the void in impressive fashion.
Linking up with club captain Kaka to net six times in 11 starts and three substitute appearances, the Canadian international appears set for a bright future in the game.
Comeback Player of the Year remains a somewhat convoluted award but if anyone deserves, it’s Sapong.
The striker racked up just seven starts and two goals for Sporting KC last season before being traded to Philadelphia in December, but then missed a three-game stretch earlier this term after having to undergo a league-mandated rehab stint following a DUI arrest.
He had just one goal in six games prior to his suspension but has turned his form around in spectacular fashion since returning to the pitch, netted five times in the past nine matches to help Jim Curtin’s side climb up the Eastern Conference table.
There are no two ways about it: Giovinco has been the best player in the league by a quite substantial distance.
In his 18 games, the former Juventus forward has bagged 12 goals and nine assists, while firing off a league-leading 106 shots to emerge as TFC’s talisman in their hunt for a first-ever post-season appearance.
There are certainly good MVP arguments to be made for Sporting KC star Benny Feilhaber and Columbus Crew’s Kei Kamara – the league’s leading-scorer with 14 goals, but Toronto would be nowhere without their prized off-season signing.