- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On November 14, 2011
- 0 Comments
- 2011 MLS Awards, 2011 MLS Season, Features
I’ve been holding off on posting my year-end picks for all of the MLS awards until this week. The week of MLS Cup seemed to be as good of a week as any to post this material. With nothing else going on (aside from a US game tomorrow) it just seemed like the right time.
Media voting for these awards was fairly similar to how it has been over the last couple years that I’ve been doing this. Only real change was instead of a top three, you did a top two. Not sure why the league wanted the media to vote like that but it just made it for a tougher selection.
A couple awards have already been given out, and you’ll see that my picks went with those fairly closely.
So I’ll go down the line and give you my picks and then give you my Best XI.
MLS Coach of the Year: Bruce Arena (Los Angeles Galaxy)
This one was fairly open in my book between three coaches, Arena, Peter Vermes of Kansas City and Sigi Schmid of Seattle. In the end I couldn’t ignore what LA did this season in terms of points, home record and being able to deal with the pressures of the CCL. I know the CCL stuff shouldn’t be involved in the voting but it is a factor that does weigh in your mind a little bit. With LA Earning 67 points in the season – one of the best marks in league history – I had little reservations about selecting Arena.
Arena beat out my second place vote (Vermes) by a slim margin. I was impressed with how KC did after going through a 10-game road trip to start the season. That was very impressive really. KC will certainly be a team to beat in 2012.
My second place vote: Peter Vermes (Sporting Kansas City)
Rookie of the Year: CJ Sapong (Sporting Kansas City)
This one was very simple. CJ Sapong dominated the vote getting for this award and I was one of the many who contributed to it. He had a few goals on the year but it was the fact that he consistently played and grew as a player in his rookie season that impressed me the most. He was a big part of the KC offense that was one of the best in the league and he seems like a good kid that you can just root for in general.
My second place vote: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire)
Newcomer of the Year: Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders FC)
I’ll have a little more on Rosales either later today or tomorrow over at SBNation.com. But this one was another simple award, even with Rosales’ late season knee injury. There were a few guys that were pretty close to inching their way towards the top late in the season like New York’s Luke Rodgers, Toronto’s Danny Koevermans and Vancouver’s Camilo. In the end, Rosales’ five goals and 13 assists were too much to catch up to.
My second place vote: Eric Hassli (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Keeper of the Year: Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas)
Call it biased or seeing this guy too much in person but Hartman did lead the league in shutouts with Nick Rimando this season. What did it for me was his leadership. I know others will say Rimando or Kasey Keller is better and I get that, believe me I do. Hartman was consistent this season, more so than I’ve ever seen him.
Hartman is the all-time leader in multiple MLS goalkeeping categories, including saves (1,376), wins (171) and shutouts (106), he was tabbed the MLS Player of the Month in July for his 0.66 GAA in six MLS matches. Hartman earned four clean sheets in league matches that month.
This was one of those few awards that you really could go about six or seven different directions with this season. You can and will easily be able to make arguments for about five keepers this season for this award.
My second place vote: Nick Rimando (RSL)
Comeback Player of the Year: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo)
I’ll be honest, I hate this award. Along with the Referee of the Year, this one makes the least sense every year. I went with Cameron because he battled injuries all of last year and came back to have a monster year that lead the Dynamo to the MLS Cup. I get having Charlie Davies in the ballot for this award but it makes little sense to me to vote on him for Comeback of the Year when he wasn’t even in MLS last season. Shouldn’t that be a criteria for this award? His comeback had nothing to do with MLS in my book.
Anyways, I’d rather see a most improved award instead of this one. That one would have gone to one of the three finalist for this award – Dominic Oduro.
My second place vote: David Beckham (LA Galaxy)
EDIT: As I was writing this Beckham was announced the winner over Davies and Oduro. I get it, DC fans will be pissed about this and rightfully so but I bet more than anything some people voted against Davies because he wasn’t in MLS last year (like me). Don’t get me wrong, his story was powerful and he did come back from something terrible. Again, this is a dumb award.
Defender of the Year: Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
Another easy award. Gonzalez was by far the best defender this season in MLS. No getting around that.
My second place vote: Jamison Olave (RSL)
Most Valuable Player of the Year: Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
Another award that really could have been voted six or eight different ways. I get the call for Brad Davis, his assists were king this year. I get the idea of Rosales, he was great up until his knee injury. I also get the thought of someone like Thierry Henry, David Beckham or Landon Donovan. All were great this year.
To me it was consistency and how important this player was to his team. Shea was that for Dallas. His 11 goals carried the club and his assists always seemed to come at vital times for Dallas. Call it a homer pick if you will but this is just how I see it. Shea was more ‘valuable’ this season than anyone else. (Another pet peeve of mine about these awards, I really wish this was just “Best Player” or something along those lines…most valuable can mean so many things to different people).
My second place winner could and likely will end up with the award in the end though. Dwayne De Rosario had a magical couple of months in DC that nearly pushed United into the playoffs. His goals and assists were what carried DC late in the year and when he was out of action for the club, the team failed to do anything productive without him.
My second place vote: Dwayne De Rosario (DC United)
WVH Best XI for 2011
Keeper: Kevin Hartman (Dallas)
Defenders: Jamison Olave (RSL), Todd Dunivant (LA), Omar Gonzalez (LA)
Midfielders: Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia), Mauro Rosales (Seattle), Landon Donovan (LA), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo)
Forwards: Dwayne De Rosario (DC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)