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Kei Kamara vs. Sebastian Giovinco: The MLS MVP Debate is Heating Up

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The atomic ant has led the race the entire season, but on the final corner the Golden Boot leader is gaining ground.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the Major League Soccer season the MVP debate has hardly resembled a debate at all. Instead it has mostly been a consensus: that Sebastian Giovinco is the best player in the league and that barring injury or a massive dip in form the award would be his at the end of the year.

There has always been another name on the fringe of this discussion, however, one that refuses to go away even as Giovinco's acts seem to get more impressive game by game.

The MLS MVP discussion may start with Sebastian Giovinco, but it would be ridiculous to end it without mentioning Kei Kamara.

The 31-year-old striker left Major League Soccer in 2013 to join Middlesbrough in England. Since he returned, he has been a revelation as the league's leading goalscorer with four games remaining.

How much has he improved since his trip to Europe? In 113 games with Sporting Kansas City, he scored 38 goals. In 29 games so far this year Kamara has 21 goals.

It hasn't just been the goalscoring that has set Kamara apart, however, he has been contributing in other areas as well. He is tied for sixth in the league in assists, with 8, and leads the league in game winning goals with 7.

In an overall points sense, Kamara has directly contributed to 29 goals his team has scored so far this far. That means he has had a goal or an assist on 59 per cent of his team's goals this year.

The question that every media member will have to answer is which one has been more integral to their team. What was once a Gioivinco consensus has quickly become a debate with each Kamara goal making it a more difficult question to answer.

First, some of Giovinco's numbers. This past weekend the Italian international had two goals and an assist to lead Toronto over the Colorado Rapids. This puts him two goals behind Kamara for the goalscoring lead with 19.

Where Giovinco does have the lead over Kamara is in assists, as he has been among the league's best playmakers this year with 14 assists, tied for the league lead. That means he has directly contributed to 33 Toronto FC goals this year, or 67 per cent of Toronto FC's goals.

He is currently only one behind Chris Wondolowski for the most goals and assists combined in Major League Soccer history, with 34. He is already the undoubtable favourite for the league's Newcomer of the year award.

Who has been more integral to their team? There isn't much to separate Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew minus 7 points in the standings. They have scored the same number of goals: a league leading 49 each tied with the New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy.

Both have also shown immense defensive frailties: Toronto has conceded 50 goals this year while New York have conceded 49. Neither will be content with how their season has gone, despite the fact that both sit in a playoff position.

At the moment, it would seem that Giovinco will hang on to crown he has been waiting to be anointed with all season. The Italian creates more chances, 5.6 spots per game and 1.9 key passes to 4.3 and 1.1 respectively.

Kamara also has better deputies around him from an offensive standpoint. Ethan Finlay has 9 goals and 13 assists while Federico Higuain has 7 goals and 7 assists. This compared to 10 goals an no assists from Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley with 4 goals and 6 assists.

So for now the Italian still has the edge, but the debate is definitely heating up. If things continue the way they have, by the end of the season it will be a near impossible decision to pick between the two.