TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC dribbles the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

5 Candidates to Win the 2016 MLS MVP Award

The MLS Knockout Round started on Wednesday and the playoffs will begin this week where we'll find out which eight teams will remain alive in the battle for the MLS Cup title. Not only are the playoffs around the corner, but so is the announcement for the 2016 MVP. There have been many viable candidates this season, but several stand above the rest.

5. Mauro Diaz - FC Dallas

How can anyone deny that Mauro Diaz was one of the best attacking midfielders in MLS this season? The FC Dallas star won't play in the postseason due to an injury, but he was absolutely instrumental to carry Oscar Pareja's team as the top seed in the West and the best team in the league during the regular season. The former River Plate star contributed with five goals and 13 assists, and his play was enough for Dallas to win the Supporters' Shield. Can they win it all without him?

4. Sacha Kljestan - New York Red Bulls

A central midifelder converted into an attacking playmaker, Sacha Kljestan is never mentioned among the league's best players despite the fact that he's been very valuable for the New York Red Bulls the last two years. He played in a more advanced role this season, but he thrived for NY and led the league in assists with 20. The former Anderlecht star even made it back to the USMNT after the 2016 Copa America.

3. Bradley Wright-Phillips - New York Red Bulls

Bradley Wright-Phillips never settled into the English Premier League or the English Championship League, but the goalscorer found his home in the MLS. BWP won the Golden Boot after scoring 24 goals for the New York Red Bulls, and even though the fans might not be impressed with his playing style, he's one of the most effective attackers in MLS history. It's clear the Red Bulls wouldn't be where they are without his contributions.

2. David Villa - New York City FC

David Villa managed an impressive feat this season after he upgraded his numbers from 2015. The former FC Barcelona star scored 23 goals for New York City FC, and there's no doubt he'll be a key part of New York's playoff aspirations in the Eastern Conference. He's the engine that keeps things going for Patrick Vieira's side.

1. Sebastian Giovinco - Toronto FC

Lots of experts have criticized Sebastian Giovinco considering he took a step back this year following a historical 2015 season. But several things need to be considered. First of all, Giovinco missed time with an injury a few weeks ago. He also had a scoring drought of nearly 10 matches, so it's surprising he still ended with 17 goals and 15 assists in 2016. Will he win a second straight MVP award? Only time will tell.