Rooney is joined on the list by Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron, Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela and Atlanta forward Josef Martinez.
Martinez (Venezuela) smashed the league scoring record with two months left in the regular season and finished with 31 goals. Almiron (Paraguay) was the influential force in Atlanta’s high-powered attack.
Ibrahimovic (Sweden) recorded 22 goals and 10 assists after debuting three weeks into the season, but his team failed to qualify for the playoffs. Vela (Mexico) had 14 goals and 13 assists for an expansion side that finished third in the Western Conference.
Rooney was also nominated for newcomer of the year, joining Ibrahimovic and Vela.
In the other award categories …
· Bob Bradley, the former U.S. national team boss who guided LAFC’s inaugural success, is the leading candidate for coach of the year. The other finalists are Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes and Atlanta’s Gerardo Martino.
· The rookie of the year candidates are Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird (eight goals, five assists), Orlando City forward Chris Mueller (three goals, seven assists) and Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie.
· Defenders: Seattle’s Chad Marshall, New York Red Bulls' Aaron Long and Atlanta’s Michael Parkhurst.
· Goalkeepers: Columbus’s Zack Steffen, Red Bulls' Luis Robles and Seattle’s Stefan Frei.
· Comeback: Ibrahimovic, Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso and Columbus’s Gyasi Zardes.
The voting pool comprised players, club representatives and media members. Winners will be announced over the next five weeks leading to MLS Cup on Dec. 8.