MLS Awards: Newcomer Talk

MLS Awards: Newcomer Talk

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 22, 2013
  • 2013 Awards, 2013 MLS Season, Features
Just how good has Diego Valeri been this year for Portland? (Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports)

Just how good has Diego Valeri been this year for Portland? (Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports)

As September quickly approaches in Major League Soccer, so does the talk of award season. I’ve been discussing the rookie race for the last couple of weeks on my weekly Tuesday Rookie Watch post. Today, I wanted to dive into a look at the Newcomer of the Year race.

Last year, Federico Higuain came in late in the season and stole the award away. This year, I’m a little doubtful that a summer signing will have that kind of impact given how well some of the new players to the league have done so far this year.

Teams like Chicago and Colorado, who made big Designated Player moves this summer could change this list by the end of the year but for now, I see the following players as the front runners in this year’s race.

Diego Valeri – The Portland DP has five goals and 11 assists on the season. From the minute he scored his first goal back at the start of the season against New York to his performances lately against teams like Salt Lake and Dallas, Valeri has shown that he is the right type of DP to sign in this league. Not only has he fit the style of play in Portland but he has found a way to deal with the physical nature of MLS.

Raul Fernandez – The Dallas keeper, like his team, has had some ups and downs this year but he’s been a bright spot these last few months while the team has been doing poorly. Fernandez may not have monster stats that will jump out at you like other keepers in this league but the All-Star keeper from Peru has shown that he has been a great addition to the league.

Claudio Bieler – The Kansas City DP has been a consistent player in the Sporting attack for Peter Vermes this season. Nine goals and three assists are solid numbers so far and I still believe that once Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi are healthy again, that his numbers will continue to climb up.

Obafemi Martins – The Seattle DP has been dealing with injuries this season but has still found a way to score seven goals and tally three assists. If his health can get in order and push Seattle into the playoffs, you can expect plenty of votes for him come the end of the season.

Jose Goncalves – Here’s a guy that few talk about but many should. Goncalves sparked a huge turn around in the New England defense this year, earning the Revs one of the top defenses in MLS. With just 23 goals scored on to date, is the best in the league too. Goncalves has taken a young defensive group and transformed them into a rugged defensive line that teams struggle to deal with.