The Major League Soccer MVP race is wide open, with no clear-cut favorite if you follow a strict interpretation of “most valuable.” Change the name to Player of the Year, an honor traditionally defined in sports as the finest individual performance over the course of the season regardless of the team’s record and dependence on the player, and Dwayne De Rosario (16 goals and 12 assists) would surface as the true favorite.

I can’t remember an MLS autumn with so many legitimate MVP candidates. All could make a strong claim for the trophy — I love Osvaldo Alonso’s two-way game, Brad Davis has lifted mediocre Houston, Brek Shea is a rising star, Landon Donovan is the league’s most important player and David Beckham is enjoying his finest season for the Galaxy. But without a firm choice among the playoff-bound teams, I’m going with De Rosario.

As Portland Timbers Coach John Spencer said Wednesday: “If [De Rosario] doesn’t get MVP of the league, there’s something wrong. Plain and simple. For the last three months of the season since he came here he’s been the best player in the league by far – a country mile. He needs to win MVP. “

Since his arrival in late June, DeRo has contributed 13 goals and seven assists in 17 appearances. In those games, he played a part in 74 percent of United’s 27 goals. United endured a turbulent and frustrating season, missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, but the midseason trade that brought DeRo to D.C. from New York in exchange for Dax McCarty was a coup.

The league will announce three finalists on Nov. 7. The winner will be introduced Nov. 18, two days before MLS Cup.

Now it’s your turn. Please vote: