COMMENTARY | Eight seconds.
That's all that Tim Cahill needed to rise above a Houston Dynamo defender, chest a ball down into position, and hit a volley that gloriously sailed into the back of the net and propelled the New York Red Bulls back into the driver's seat in the Supporters' Shield race. That the Red Bulls are but 90+ minutes from winning their first meaningful trophy can be attributed to multiple individuals. Nobody, not Thierry Henry or even Mike Petke, has meant more to RBNY than has Cahill, to the point that he has gone beyond team Most Valuable Player.
Cahill is the 2013 Major League Soccer MVP, and there really is no debate about the issue.
Consider all of the positive things that have been said about Cahill throughout his storied career. He is gritty. He does the little things that don't necessarily show up on a stat sheet but that make all the difference out on the pitch. He isn't the flashiest of players, but the results speak for themselves.
All of those descriptions are true of the Red Bulls heading into the upcoming postseason tournament. New York didn't go and sign a United States Men's National Team star in the summer. They don't have a head coach who was once touted as the future savior of US Soccer. They aren't making national headlines on a weekly basis.
Hoisting the MLS Cup is largely about winning ugly. Yes, flashy LA Galaxy are the two-time defending and reigning league champions. You don't get any scrappier than Robbie Keane, who was a major part of both of those title runs.
RBNY have their own Keane in Cahill. No disrespect meant toward Mr. Henry, but the Australian international is the designated player that the club has yearned for over the past several years. Another way to put it is to say that Cahill is the anti Rafa Marquez.
That the Red Bulls are hitting their stride as Cahill is enjoying his best form of his brief MLS career is no coincidence. His energy and desire are contagious, traits that teammates feed off of in games and in training. There are several names on this New York squad that many would have, only months ago, said don't belong on a contender. They and the club are whey they are right now because of Cahill more so than anything else.
So what if Cahill isn't on the cover of the US version of FIFA 14 and he doesn't bury Goals of the Week each and every month? The award is supposed to go to the individual deemed Most Valuable, not the guy with the biggest name or the player who made the season's best highlight. All apologies to Chicago Fire star Mike Magee, my midseason MVP, but he has taken a back seat to Cahill.
Magee has helped the Fire crawl into a playoff spot, something Chicago could lose when they travel to Red Bull Arena this coming Sunday. Cahill has New York just one game away from forever destroying "That's So Metro." That is invaluable to what has been the league's most-tortured fan base.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
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