Handicapping the Rookie Of The Year Race

Handicapping the Rookie Of The Year Race

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On September 7, 2012
  • Austin Berry, Conor Lade, Darren Mattocks, Features, Luis Silva, Matt Hedges

Austin Berry has been flying high for the Fire this season. (Getty Images)

Programing note: …and we’re back. Yeah, I had to take yesterday completely off and I won’t apologize for it at all either. As some probably found out, yesterday was my wedding anniversary so there was little need for writing yesterday.

I wanted to finish this week with a look at this year’s Rookie of the Year race. I think we’ve seen a couple different versions of this race so far this season and just like a lot of other awards it will come down to the wire in the final weeks of the season.

Earlier in the year it seemed as though offense was moving the needle on the rookie race, guys like Nick DeLeon and Darren Mattocks were flying high and causing all sort of issues. Both have since cooled off and now the defenders in the rookie crop have taken charge.

Below are five rookies that I think still have a legitimate chance of winning this year’s Rookie of the Year award. 

(Note: these are in no particular order either)

1. Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) –  2 G (23 GP, 18 GS) – The central defender for Schellas Hyndman has come in and done exactly what they expected him to do – play a ton of minutes. Only thing is he is filling in for a defender that Dallas did not expect to be out most of the season (Ugo Ihemelu). Hedges was the George John replacement back in January but with John still in a Dallas uniform the two have formed quite a partnership in the middle of the defense over the last few months. The last couple games have been rough on the rookie though but if he can turn things around and help lead Dallas to a playoff berth, you may see his name on a lot of ballots.

2. Austin Berry (Chicago Fire) –  3 G (20 GP, 20 GS) – Berry has been an exciting young player to watch grow this season. Just like Hedges, he’s seen a ton of minutes and have helped turn Chicago into a playoff contender. Once he cracked the lineup he never looked back either – as he’s started the last 17 games for the Fire. Oh yeah, he’s also become quite the threat on a set piece too for the Fire. Gotta love that.

3. Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps) – 7 G (16 GP, 12 GS) – The goals are what we expected out of Mattocks. But the red cards and lack of emotional intelligence on the pitch is a concern moving forward. Still, Mattocks is an exciting player to watch, one that has really been interesting to watch this year given all the changes that Vancouver has gone through. If he can lead the Caps into the playoffs, the award will be his in my mind.

4. Conor Lade (New York Red Bulls) – 3 A (20 GP, 17 GS) – The lone Home Grown player on this list. Lade has been one of the few guys on the Red Bulls that have really done well this year for Hans Backe. He’s a feisty player that never seems to tire on the field – something you have to enjoy seeing out of a young player. He’s got a ton of room to grow as a player but he certainly has all the tools to be a quality MLS player for years to come.

5. Luis Silva (Toronto FC) – 4 G, 2 A (23 GP, 15 GS) – An early season favorite to win the award has been in and out of the Toronto lineup this season. He’s seen more time under Paul Mariner and has shown well in the process. I think had he saw more time at the start of the season in the lineup for Toronto, there would be more goals to his name.

Others in the running: Ryan Meara (New York), Andy Rose (Seattle), Ray Gaddis (Philadelphia), Andrew Wenger (Montreal), Nick DeLeon (D.C. United)