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Should Carlos Vela or Diego Rossi be MLS Newcomer of the Year?

We weigh in on the chances an LAFC player garners this honor.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

There might have been some initial concern at the beginning of the season when Los Angeles Football Club signed a pair of internationals right out of the gate in Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi.

Concerns over the dynamic between the two offensive players.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Concerns over the fact that Rossi was previously untested, only playing for Peñarol in the Uruguayan league.

Concerns over Vela’s ability to transition to play in the United States after being bounced around by Arsenal.

Yet, here we are at the end of the 2018 Major League Soccer season, where both Vela and Rossi have risen above the concerns and been nominated for MLS Newcomer of the Year.

Vela has started in 24 matches for LAFC, accumulating 2,198 minutes while Rossi has started in 28 matches and amassed 2,424 minutes for the Black and Gold.

Here’s a look at how they rate in different categories according to statistics in their race for the honor:

Goals

Vela leads the pack here with 13 goals over the season. Granted, Vela has had some dry spells in finding the back of the net, but he recorded braces against Houston, Toronto and the LA Galaxy. But, more than goal production, Vela has provided sound leadership for LAFC, especially in place of Laurent Ciman who was transferred in the middle of the season.

Rossi, on the other hand, has 10 goals in league play to his ledger this season, including a brace against Real Salt Lake on March 10. Prior to that, he opened the season with a goal against Seattle the week before. Like Vela, he hasn’t necessarily been the most consistent in scoring, but he has picked up where Vela may have left off at certain points of the season.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Assists

Rossi has nine assists to his credit this season, including three against Real Salt Lake in the second match of the season. In the last six matches for the Black-and-Gold, Rossi has assisted on three goals.

Vela has 12 assists to go along with his 13 goals. He had a pair of assists on top of his two goals in a 4-2 win over Houston on Oct. 12 and two more assists in a 2-0 win against San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 22.

Both players have a proven vision of the field that is hard to match.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Toronto FC Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Shots on goal

Vela is among the league leaders in this category, with 41 of his 90 shots being on target. That puts him sixth in the league overall in the category.

Rossi is eighth overall in the league for shots on goal with 38 of his 80 shots being on target this season.

The rest

One place where Vela excels over all other players in the league is in the Audi Player Index ratings. Currently the Mexican international has 710 points, which is tops in the league — even more than Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron and LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The index looks at just about every conceivable statistic tracked in MLS, from successful passes to aerials and tackles.

Vela gets points for fouls won —which can lead to those dangerous set pieces LAFC has been noted for converting — key passes, goals from inside the box, shots on goal from outside the box, assists and penalty goals.

Overall

While both are certainly qualified for this award, Vela would stand out above Rossi. Not that Rossi’s contribution has been less than Vela’s, but based on sheer numbers, Vela has the upper hand of the two.

Perhaps the toughest competition for Vela will be Ibrahimovic. The former Swedish international is in the top five of many offensive categories (take that “offensive” statement for what you will). However, with Zlatan being considered for other awards, Newcomer of the Year may be at the bottom of the list, giving Vela an edge.

An outside challenger would be Ezequiel Barco of Atlanta United considering the season the Five Stripes have had this year.

What do you think? Post your comment below!