TORONTO, Canada—Major League Soccer announced today that Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo has been named the league’s most valuable player.
Last season, Pozuelo came within inches of his first MLS MVP award, as he was only beaten out by Carlos Vela. This season, however, the 29 year old celebrates, becoming just the second Toronto FC player to ever win the award, joining who else but Sebastian Giovinco (2015).
“Congratulations to Alejandro on being awarded the highest of honours in MLS,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning in a press release. “Since joining our club in 2019 Alejandro’s contributions on the field and in the locker room have been incredible. This year he emerged as one of our leaders and was the chief catalyst as our team finished with the second-highest points per game in the league. This is a well-deserved MVP award for Alejandro.”
“Poz had a great season, and we are very happy that he is receiving this award,” added Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis. “We also believe that while the MVP is given to one, it is an award that is reflective of the group. This year was challenging in so many ways, but Poz is a competitor, he’s passionate about the game, and he is more than deserving of this award.”
It was a sophomore season for the ages for the Reds’ No. 10.
Pozuelo continued this COVID-19 interrupted campaign in the same manner that he ended the last. Though Toronto FC fell to expansion side Nashville SC in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the tough mentality of the team, led by the feisty Spaniard, was evident all season long.
Just by looking at Pozuelo’s stats from this remarkable season, it’s very easy to see why he was always the frontrunner for this year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP award.
With nine goals, Poz was tied for eighth on the league’s scoring chart, and five of those were game-winning goals—most in the MLS. Fellow TFC striker Ayo Akinola also finished the season with nine goals, and a large part of his scoring success was due to his number 10’s set-ups. With 10 assists, Pozuelo finished tied atop the MLS for first in the league, but he stands alone atop the category of chances created with a remarkable 70! With the combination of goals and assists (19 in total), the brilliant all-around attacking display from Pozuelo puts him in first in MLS in total points.
In a season that went on for a much lengthier run than usual, his consistency in the team never wavered. Pozuelo was also the first player in club history to start every regular season match in a campaign: a great indicator as to how dominant he was in such a physically demanding season. His consistent play found himself in the MLS Team of the Week five times, and as Player of the Month once.
His inclusion in the team throughout the year were reflective of the impressive streaks TFC found themselves on. After going unbeaten in 18-straight matches to start the season, a new franchise record, the Reds suffered their first loss against the old rivals Montreal Impact in a frustrating 1-0 defeat on September 1. Not long after the loss, the team then went on a five-match winning streak, reclaiming their respect, led by the Spaniard.
And while his production did fade towards the end of the year, it’s worth noting that Pozuelo was playing through injury in the Reds’ final two-three games, as he revealed in the club’s end-of-season press conference.
“I am honoured to be named MLS MVP,” said Pozuelo in a TFC press release Monday. “I want to thank my teammates and our coaching staff as this individual award shows we had a very good season. I am happy to be able to celebrate this award with my wife, my kids and all my friends here in Spain.”
Less than two years ago, we thought we were lucky to have a man that could simply dawn the number 10 kit so quickly after Giovinco departed. Now two full seasons after he first put the shirt on, we should feel even luckier that Pozuelo has been able to make the iconic kit his own.