Billy Sharp might be 2023's best under-the-radar summer signing, earning Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire honors for Matchday 33 – the byproduct of a potentially season-saving hat trick against Minnesota United FC in just his second LA Galaxy start.
The 37-year-old English striker, acquired last month as a free agent, scored three times as the Galaxy turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 victory iced by Diego Fagúndez's winner. The result keeps them within five points of the ninth-and-final Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs spot in the Western Conference with six games remaining.
A bonafide legend at boyhood club Sheffield United, Sharp is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Los Angeles, netting six goals in as many appearances to keep the club's postseason hopes alive in the final stretch. He's proving to be a more than capable replacement for the injured Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, out since June with an ACL tear.
Sharp's hat trick is the Galaxy's first since Chicharito achieved the same feat in April 2021. He's also the fastest player in club history to record six goals, doing so in just 230 minutes over a six-game span. And he's just the fourth player in league history to score three goals in one of their first two starts, alongside Josef Martínez, Didier Drogba and Musa Shannon.
The MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire is selected each matchday of the regular season through both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of voting. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio, and online media.