I’m fairly confident today will be one of those days where everyone is making their mid-season picks (either that or it will be an all week kind of things across the ‘net). I’ve been knocking around the idea of getting mine posted for some time and today just felt like the right time. Nearly all teams have played half of their season (KC, RSL and SJ only ones that have played 16 games) and I think we know who was good in this first half of the season and who was not.
So without any more time wasting, here are my midseason awards.
2011 MidSeason MVP: Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
Shea and Dallas have really come alive in the 13 games without David Ferreira. It’s amazing to think that the moment he was put back on the wings, his offensive stats rose and his team started producing more scoring chances. While I still believe he’s a natural defender, he adds so much more to the wings. He’s currently tied with a couple others for the league lead in scoring and without him contributing on the offensive side of the ball (and defensive too) I’d feel that Dallas wouldn’t nearly be as good as they are now. I’ve said for weeks over at Big D Soccer that it’s been a real team performance so far and that guys like Daniel Hernandez and George John are the reason for it but take away Shea and you’d see a completely different team.
Others in line: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Andres Mendoza (Columbus) and Thierry Henry (New York).
2011 MLS MidSeason Rookie of the Year: CJ Sapong (Sporting KC)
Possibly a surprising pick right now but he’s contributing well right now with Sporting and as his team continues to get better so does he. I’m fairly sure this season’s rookie race will be one of the most open we’ve seen in years. Sapong doesn’t have amazing stats right now, but then again neither do any other rookies.
Others in line: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Rich Balchan (Columbus Crew), and Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps).
2011 MLS MidSeason Coach of the Year: Schellas Hyndman (FC Dallas)
Hard to believe that just a couple months ago he lost his best player to a freak ankle injury and at that point it looked like his season was lost. Instead Hyndman found a way to inject new life into his lineup by making a few key switches. Going to a 4-4-2 helped until Fabian Castillo had to go to Colombia for some national team duty. Then going back to a 4-1-4-1 seemed to open things up even more. Hyndman’s team has only lost once in their last 13 games and is only two points out of the Supporter’s Shield lead. Impressive stuff considering all the injuries he had to deal with early on in the season. The big test awaits though as FCD has USOC games and CCL matches ahead. If he gets his club through this month without any more injuries and doesn’t pick up any bad losses along the way he could easily wrap up this award.
Others in line: Peter Vermes (Sporting KC), Bruce Arena (LA Galaxy), Peter Nowak (Philadelphia Union), and Sigi Schmid (Seattle Sounders).
2011 MLS MidSeason Best Newcomer: Eric Hassli (Vancouver Whitecaps)
While his red card numbers match his goal numbers, I believe Hassli has added a good bit of excitement to the league. That is the sort of thing that you want out of a newcomer too. He may not be the best player in this category but when you add the entertainment factor of his red cards and his goals, it’s tough to pass him up.
Others in line: Omar Bravo (Sporting KC), Faryd Mondragon (Philadelphia Union), Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas), Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders FC), and Charlie Davies (DC United).
Biggest Surprised so far of 2011: Number of Draws
With 18 teams comes more parity, but the amount of draws is increasing by the week. It’s not just level playing fields between teams either. Poor officiating, bad scheduling, international callups and injuries all play a factor in this alarming rate of draws.
Biggest Disappointment so far of 2011: Key players going down to injuries
Thankfully it seems as though the bad injuries to key players bug has stopped for now. That three week stretch or so of seeing guys like Steve Zakuani, David Ferreira, Javier Morales and others go down to bad injuries was the big story for the most part of the first half of this season. No doubt those injuries will continue to play a factor in this season too. Hopefully the officiating will get better to keep other key players from going down too.
Best Goal so far of 2011: Eric Hassli
As good as Darlington Nagbe’s goal against Kansas City this past weekend was, Eric Hassli’s goal against Seattle may have been one of the best goals I’ve seen in this league since Carlos Ruiz’s bicycle kick against D.C. United a few years back
Best XI so far in 2011 (using a 3-5-2 model)
Keeper: Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders)
Defense: George John (FC Dallas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia Union)
Midfield: Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Daniel Hernandez (FC Dallas), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), and Jack Jewsbury (Portland Timbers)
Forwards: Thierry Henry (New York), Charlie Davies (DC United)