Sebastian Giovinco and David Villa both came to MLS prior to the 2015 season with a lot of fanfare.


Giovinco was joining Toronto FC from a Juventus team that had won two straight Serie A titles and would go on to reach the 2015 UEFA Champions League final. Villa had continued his legendary career with Atletico Madrid before joining New York City FC, helping them reach the 2014 UEFA Champions League final and scoring 15 goals across all competitions for the La Liga champions.


Since then, there's been little doubt about who the best players in MLS have been. Giovinco won the 2015 MLS MVP thanks to the greatest individual season in MLS history, registering 22 goals and 16 assists, while Villa took the 2016 award after a 23 goal, four assist season. Giovinco held the ultimate trump card prior to this season, after trouncing Villa and NYCFC in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year.


This season has been one of fits and starts for the Italian, dealing with injuries and inconsistent play, but on Sunday he showed why he should always be considered among the top two or three players in the league. He scored his 10th free-kick goal, a league record, in addition to another stunner to help defeat defeat NYCFC 4-0 and secure Toronto's place atop the Supporters' Shield standings heading into All-Star week.


Giovinco's second goal was his 50th in MLS and it took him 78 games to reach the milestone. That is the same amount of games it took Villa to reach 50 back in June. There's so little separating these two since 2015 even when looking at per 90 numbers and expected goal and assist values provided by Opta.

Player
Non-penalty goals per 90
Assists per 90
Non-pen xG per 90
xA per 90
Giovinco
.57
.49
.46
.26
Villa
.50
.24
.41
.18

Opta's passing model estimates an xA value for all completed passes and the definition for a single completed pass is the probability that this pass is an (primary) assist.

Giovinco does seem to have the upper hand for now, especially when look at their assist and xA averages, but Villa has improved that aspect of his game in 2017 while Giovinco's has taken a hit. So far this season Villa has an xA per 90 average is .26 while Giovinco's is just .14.


These two should be among the contenders for MVP again this season, with Toronto and NYCFC at or near the top of the standings. If one of them were to win the award again, it would only fuel the debate between the two more.


You can see both play against in Real Madrid in Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game presented Target (8:30 pm ET; FS1, Univision in US | TSN, TVA Sports in Canada).


Two important notes before looking at Week 21's xG numbers: Penalties have a value of .79, and own goals are not factored into the values.

Game
Result
Home xG
Away xG
Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC
3-0
3.60
1.11
Atlanta United vs. Orlando City SC
1-1
1.84
.42
New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact
4-0
4.34
.27
New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
3-0
1.97
.63
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Colorado Rapids
1-0
1.73
.36
Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire
3-2
2.46
.68
Minnesota United FC vs. D.C. United
4-0
.40
.97
Houston Dynamo vs. Portland Timbers
2-2
1.12
1.59
FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
0-4
.63
1.74
Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew SC
2-2
2.43
2.15
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders
0-0
.64
1.02
Toronto FC vs. New York City FC
4-0
1.38
1.61
Villa, Giovinco showing they are still best in MLS | Expected Goals - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Opta-MLS-lockup.jpg