As the playoff races got down to the nitty gritty in September, many players stepped up to make major contributions for their clubs as they jockeyed for position. The best of them are now up for the latest Etihad Airways Player of the Month award.
The MLSsoccer.com editorial staff selects the five final nominees at the end of each month. The winner is then determined by your vote – voting ends at 2:59 am ET on October 6.
Here are the nominees, based on their performances through September 30, 2016:
Giovani dos Santos, LA Galaxy: His five goals and four assists in the month caught the attention of Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who last week named the Galaxy star to the Mexico roster for friendlies against New Zealand and Panama Oct. 8 and 11. The friendlies are Mexico's final matches before El Tri resumes World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF Hexagonal against the US in Columbus Nov. 11. For his club, meanwhile, dos Santos' efforts helped LA go 2-1-2 in the month as the Galaxy chased West leaders FC Dallas in the race for the Supporters' Shield.
Ola Kamara, Columbus Crew SC: The Norwegian scored five goals and had an assist in September, including two goals against the New England Revolution, and former Columbus striker Kei Kamara, when Crew SC beat the Revs 2-0 at MAPFRE Stadium on Sept. 25. Ola Kamara has been remarkably consistent all season long after replacing Kei Kamara up front for Columbus.
David Villa, New York City FC: Despite losing his running mate Frank Lampard to injury, Villa continued to pump in the goals, banging in five, plus two assists, to help NYC go 3-1-1 in September as they chase the top spot, and a first round playoff bye, in the Eastern Conference.
Chad Marshall, Seattle Sounders FC: The goal-getters up front get most of the attention, but Marshall's work at the back end has helped red-hot Seattle concede just three goals in four games — and go 3-0-1 — as they fought their way above the red line in the West in September.
Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls: His four goals in four games helped the Red Bulls go extend their club record unbeaten streak as they went 2-0-2 in September and continued to challenge rivals NYCFC and Toronto FC for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Wright-Phillips and Villa are also battling for the league's goalscoring lead.
Etihad Player of the Month Sweepstakes
Enter now for your chance to win an autographed jersey from an Etihad Player of the Month winner and other prizes.