New York (AFP) – Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo was on Monday named Major League Soccer’s 2020 Most Valuable Player after scoring nine goals and setting up 10 others for the Canadian squad.
The 29-year-old Spaniard led the league with five game-winning goals and in chances created with 70 for Toronto, which went 13-5-5 for the second-best record in the MLS season, a game behind the Philadelphia Union.
“It means a lot to me,” Pozuelo said. “We need this award a lot because it shows how important Toronto is, how important the season was. And I’m very proud… it’s something that takes a lot of work to get here.”
Pozuelo, in his second MLS campaign, scored four goals and assisted on two others in September as part of a four-match scoring streak.
Toronto was forced to play much of its season out of East Hartford, Connecticut, after the Covid-19 pandemic forced an early season shutdown in March and travel issues prevented playing matches in Canada.
Nevertheless, Pozuelo became the first player in club history to start every regular-season match.
“We had a difficult year. We didn’t play in Toronto, so it was difficult to be away from the family,” Pozuelo said. “We adapted to this situation, and individually myself, I think I played really good games but because my teammates help me to do this.”
Pozuelo became the second Spaniard to win the MLS MVP award, after New York City FC’s David Villa in 2016, and the second Toronto FC player to take the award after Sebastian Giovinco in 2015.
Toronto, the 2017 league playoff champions, were eliminated by Nashville in the opening post-season match.
In voting results, Pozuelo dominated voting with 48.19 percent from a media panel and 37.72 percent from coaches but was edged in voting by players, 22.77 percent to 20.15 percent, by MLS Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi of Los Angeles FC.
Overall, Pozuelo won with 35.35 percent of the vote compared to 17.80 percent for Uruguayan forward Rossi.
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