SBN Soccer MLS Awards: Our Writers Weigh In

SB Nation Soccer differs ever so slightly from the official MLS awards.

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7 Total Updates since November 14, 2011
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SBN Soccer Awards: Mauro Rosales Named Top Newcomer

Mauro Rosales' five goals and 13 assists were more than enough to gain 16 first place votes from the SB Nation soccer writers.


SB Nation Soccer MLS Awards: Brad Davis Wins Our MVP

SB Nation Soccer's editors felt that Brad Davis most exemplified the "valuable" part of the MVP award.


SBN Soccer Awards 2011: C.J. Sapong Runs Away With Rookie Of The Year

The MLS Best XI confirmed that SBN Soccer's MLS awards voters can have varied viewpoints on just about everything. Rookie of the Year? Not so much.

In a landslide victory, Sporting Kansas City striker CJ Sapong was our collective pick as the MLS Rookie of the Year, taking 18 first-place votes out of a possible 22. With ballots asking for the top three rookies, no other player even found himself with 18 votes of any kind. Sapong's first-place vote haul was the most of any SBN Soccer Award winner.

SBN Soccer Rookie of the Year voting

Here's how the voting broke down:
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Sapong 18 2 2 60
Kitchen 2 7 0 20
Soares 0 4 7 15
M. Farfan 1 2 4 11
Nagbe 1 3 2 11
Valentin 0 1 2 4
Anibaba 0 0 3 3
G. Farfan 0 1 1 3

Sapong wasn't just popular among voters. The forward managed to appear in every single match for Sporting during the regular season - their only player to do so - and started in all three of their playoff matches to boot. Due to injuries for Omar Bravo and Teal Bunbury and international duty for Kei Kamara, Sapong got minutes at all three forward positions for the former Wizards, and even kept a fully fit Bunbury out of the side for a spell.

In the full-throttle 4-3-3 favored by Vermes, Sapong proved to be an ideal fit. While his outstanding athletic gifts were important, the James Madison University product's work rate was arguably his most important quality. That's not to say the kid can't play a little; Sapong's 5 goals left him equal with Will Bruin for the rookie lead, and he also managed 5 assists. Sapong's 2011 season already has people buzzing about his potential future with the US national team, and may lead to a European training stint over the winter.

While Sapong rightfully garnered the lion's share of first-place votes, our voters were less certain of who deserved their second- and third-place votes. DC United's Perry Kitchen, despite shuttling between right back, center back, and defensive midfield, came in second overall, just ahead of New England Revolution center back A.J. Soares, Philadelphia Union midfielder Michael Farfan, and attacker Darlington Nagbe of the Portland Timbers.

Over the course of the 2011 season, Kitchen and Soares were both likely the strongest defender at their respective clubs, but in each case that also left them at times with too much of the load to carry. Farfan, meanwhile, seemed to play all over the place or not at all for reasons only known to the Union's secretive manager, Peter Nowak. Nagbe struggled in the early going, but eventually found his footing as a winger and managed to do this, among other highlights.

Jason Anderson is an editor for DC United blog Black and Red United. Follow him on Twitter at @chestrockwell14.


SB Nation Soccer Awards: Omar Gonzalez Is Our MLS Defender Of The Year

The votes are in, and Omar Gonzalez has won another MLS Defender of the Year award. This time, it comes from us here at SB Nation Soccer. Gonzalez anchored an outstanding Los Angeles Galaxy defense in 2011, and it looks like this is just the beginning of personal awards in his career. The 23-year-old already has an MLS Rookie of the Year award in 2009, and has been selected to the MLS Best XI in 2010 and 2011.

SBN Soccer MLS Defender of the Year voting

Here's how the voting broke down:
Player 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Gonzalez 13 4 3 50
Valdes 2 4 2 16
Dunivant 1 3 3 12
Alonso 1 2 1 8
John   3 2 8
Moor 2 0 0 6
Beckerman 1 1 1 6
Olave 1 1   5
Borchers   1 3 5
Besler   1 2 4
Williams 1     3
Ihemelu   1 1 3
Marquez   1   2
Shea   1   2
Collin   1   2
Marshall     2 2
Parke     1 1
Soares     1 1
Ream     1 1

The voters in the SB Nation Soccer Awards had mixed feelings about the contenders for Defender of the Year. Gonzalez had a healthy lead over the second-place selection, Carlos Valdes of the Philadelphia Union. But altogether 19 players were selected by the voters, making it the season-ending award with the most players receiving votes. So it seems that Gonzalez was a cut above the rest of the pack, but there were many players deserving consideration. In the end, the top five was rounded out by Gonzalez's teammate Todd Dunivant, Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (defensive midfielders were considered eligible for the award in addition to defenders), and FC Dallas center back George John.

Gonzalez has benefited in his career from a combination of talent and circumstance. He was selected third overall in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by the Galaxy. While the Sounders picked Steve Zakuani with the first pick in the draft and are probably happy overall with that selection, injuries notwithstanding, Toronto FC's selection of Sam Cronin at second overall probably looks like a poor selection considering the Galaxy got a young star in Gonzalez with the next pick. Consider if Gonzalez had been selected by TFC - he would have had five coaches in three seasons and while he certainly would have improved Toronto's defense, he would not have had the parts around him to transform that club's fortunes. As it is, with the Galaxy he benefits from having a coach who takes defending very seriously in Bruce Arena, and teammates on the backline who are good MLS pros. As a result, Gonzalez goes from being a talented player on a poor team to a talented player able to learn the ropes of the professional game in a winning environment and develop into a leader. This last trait has been the revelation this season, as Gonzalez's ability to control play in the defensive third through both his play and his leadership has been exceptional. He's doing what a top player should do: not only playing well but making his teammates better.

Gonzalez has the size in addition to the skill to be an elite American defender, and while there's no such thing as a sure thing, he seems destined to move to a good situation in Europe in the next few years and blossom internationally. A great deal has been made of his U.S. Men's National Team snubs since Jurgen Klinsmann has taken over as the coach, and it seems like Gonzalez has earned consideration in the recent friendlies. Still, if he is not called up in the next year, it may provide additional motivation for Gonzalez to go to Europe and prove himself on a bigger stage. There are only a handful of players in MLS who are tailored for a move to one of the top leagues in Europe, and Gonzalez must be considered among those players. Enjoy watching him in MLS while you can, because he is unlikely to spend his entire career in the league.


SBN Soccer Awards: Kasey Keller, Nick Rimando Share Top MLS Goalkeeper

Quake, Rattle and Goal's Robert Jonas weighs in on SB Nation Soccer's decision to split the award for MLS's top goalkeeper.


SBN Soccer Awards: Sigi Schmid Named Top MLS Coach

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid named the top coach in MLS by SB Nation soccer's editors.


SBN Soccer Awards: MLS Best XI

SB Nation Soccer kicks off our postseason MLS awards by naming our Best XI.

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