ATLANTA, GEORGIA—Two of the players of Atlanta United FC are being nominated for the 2021 Landon Donovan Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player award.
Ezequiel Barco and Marcelino Moreno are contenders for the MLS most valuable player award because of their strong performance for the team this year.
Aside from them, seven United FC players are also nominated for other awards this year.
Overall, United FC got 11 total nominations this year.
The year 2021 is a breakout year for mercurial Argentine playmaker Barco.
For the sixth time this year, Barco was selected as part of the Major League Soccer player of the week for week 26.
The 22-year-old is putting together the best season of his Atlanta United career.
He’s already reached career highs in goals (7) and assists (6). His productive run in August landed Barco on Team of the Week three consecutive times.
“Preparation,” Barco said when asked about the key to his consistent performances.
“I think we have to keep preparing 100 percent during the week leading up to these games because that is what helps you mentally, physically,” Barco added.
Moreno for his part got the nomination since he is second on the team in goals (9) and also has four assists.
The midfielder from Argentina has been one of the most successful dribblers in the league.
Currently, his dribble rate is 91 percent, which ranks second in MLS.
Also nominated this year United FC defensive specialist Miles Robinson for MLS Defender of the Year.
The mainstay of the U.S. men’s national team is superb in defensive plays this year.
The team’s leading scorer, striker Josef Martínez, is also nominated for Comeback Player of the Year, which honors an MLS player who has overcome injuries and/or adversity to achieve success during the 2021 regular season.
After suffering a torn ACL in the regular-season opener in 2020, Martínez has gone on to become the fastest player in league history to score 100 goals for one club in all competitions and lead the list of best-selling MLS jerseys in 2021.
So far this season, Martínez has scored 11 goals, which leads the squad.
Rounding out the other major awards, Guzan was nominated for the Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year for best goalkeeper in MLS. Guzan has recorded 88 saves on the season and has a save success rate of 79.5 percent. He ranks second in the league in long passes (245).
In the other categories, midfielder Santiago Sosa and striker Luiz Araújo were nominated for MLS Newcomer of the Year. Sosa joined the club in February and has played 25 matches.
Atlanta signed Araújo on August 6. The Brazilian striker has made a swift impression with his flashy foot skills and elite speed. His goal and assist in Atlanta’s 2-1 victory over Inter Miami gave him his first Team of the Week honors.
Barco along with defender George Bello is up for Young Player of the Year, given to the best player age 22 or younger during the calendar year. Barco turned 22 on March 29. Bello is 19 years old.
Mikey Ambrose represents Atlanta United for the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year which honors an MLS player who showed outstanding dedication to charitable efforts and serving the community during the 2021 season.
The final nomination goes to head coach Gonzalo Pineda. The former Seattle Sounders assistant signed a three-and-a-half-year deal in August. Since taking over Atlanta United on August 28, Pineda has gone 6-3-1 and led Atlanta to four wins in five matches during September.
Voting begins on Friday and lasts through Monday, Nov. 8. Current players, club leadership, and media members will vote to determine the winners.

By bob

A veteran soccer journalist who is an avid fan of Atlanta United and Lionel Messi.

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