MLS Awards Two…Incorrectly

MLS Awards are out this morning…for Goalkeeper of the Year and Rookie of the Year. And someone pulled a fast one.

The winners both had great seasons mind you, but the awards should have been bestowed on others.

Picked but....

For Goalkeeper of the Year: Donovan Ricketts

Denouement: Hardly the best selection here. As LA’s backline went so did Ricketts. Early in the season the back four? Near impenetrable. A midseason swoon saw LA’s backline look extremely porous part of it due to Ricketts lack of command once Gregg Berhalter went down.

Additionally, minus offense in the form of Donovan and Buddle during the World Cup, LA got even more pressure up against its back four and the response from Ricketts was not precisely stout.

...should've been the pick...

While I will concede that Rickets makes one to two great saves a game, far too often the keeper is late to react on a play or fails to marshal effectively. Often he is seen making a save only because he didn’t react quick enough to where the ball was going in the first place.

A late season lack of taking charge up at the Buck led to the loan goal in a critical win for San Jose; it’s a game that sticks out in my memory.

One must also remember that Ricketts has been playing behind that backline for nearly two years now. It’s seasoned. Whereas…

Kevin Hartman, the deserving choice, took a shoddy Dallas defense and completely turned it around. He played well and he made those around him better.

Kevin Hartman should be the pick.


Dazzling, but not number one.

For Rookie of the Year: Andy Najar

Denouement: Andy Najar certainly thrilled. And he’s a talent.

But you have a consistent and critical starter on an East leading squad that had challenges in midfield all year long.

You had a player at position that usually takes many, many years of seasoning come in and earn the trust of his coach and his teammates.

Tim Ream, robbed for TSG’s choice for MLS Rookie of the Year.

Our thoughts below from October 27th:

Come on. Your top 3 finalists.

Really doesn’t leave a lot of room there to debate when more than three are deserving for many awards.

Anywho, let’s get into it.

Buddle: Number 2 in our mind…but number 1 of the group here…


Survivors: Chris Wondolowski, San Jose — Edson Buddle, Los Angeles — David Ferreira, Dallas

The tribe has spoken: We already had our column here; and I stand by that column.

I can see Wondo’s late surge vaulting him into contention. Buddle is a no-brainer, but Sebastien LeToux penalized for being on a poor team?

And look Ferreira is a great player, but the FACTS of the matter are that Dallas greatly improved their defense with a near full season from Kevin Hartman and a full one from Heath Pearce….yet they still had less goals even with Brek Shea getting his act…if not his mane…together.

Goalkeeper of the Year

Survivors: Kevin Hartman, Dallas — Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake — Donovan Ricketts, Los Angeles

The tribe has spoken: Those who read TSG frequently know that I have pointed out several observations of the fumbles or stutters with Donovan Ricketts…he’s not on my ballot. Rimando was good, but not spectacular. He’s great at penalty kicks, but he doesn’t marshall his defense well (frankly doesn’t have to) and his technical cops are not necessarily the best.

San Jose’s Jon Busch deserves on this list, but Kevin Hartman is the winner.

Coach of the Year

Survivors: Schellas Hyndman, Dallas — Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake — Hans Backe, New York

The tribe has spoken: This is between Backe and Kreis in our mind and I’m going to go with Hans Backe. A foreign coach, first year, integrating multiple parts? The result? 1st place in the East.


Newcomer of the Year

Survivors: Alvaro Saborio, Real Salt Lake — Thierry Henry, New York — Joel Lindpere, New York

Roque Shinta Guardian, San Francisco FC Black Box

The tribe has spoken: Where’s Ryan Smith on this list? Odd. Joel Lindpere…that guy is NAILS. Thierry Henry…I mean he’s got a great name and all…but…

Rookie of the Year

Survivors: Tim Ream, New York — Andy Najar, D.C. United — Danny Mwanga, Philadelphia

The tribe has spoken: Wait! My guy didn’t even make the list! Actually, Tim Ream is my choice by a hair. Central defenders take years to ferment. Ream despite a midseason swoon that coincided with a partner change, held up admirably. He’s smart, a cool character and he can play on my 8-man club team anytime.

Andy Najar flashed brilliance as did Mwanga…who was sneaky good, but highly inconsistent.

Chicago keeper Sean Johnson deserves consideration.

Here’s another prediction: Steve Goff will take Najar here and Soccer By Ives will take Ream here and wonder or opine on “why isn’t Ream in consideration for defender of the year.”

Being that the closest team to our publication is San Jose….moving on….

You and I both know that Nat Borchers did the stunts in Lock, Stock…

Defender of the Year

Survivors: Jamison Olave, Real Salt Lake — Omar Gonzalez, Los Angeles — Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake

The tribe has spoken: Had a bit of a Twitter hissy fit over this one. Sean Franklin should be your winner here and Heath Pearce for some reason has gone missing. From the selections above I go with…well…I cop out… I go with EVERYONE, but Sean Franklin comes out of the tunnel first.

The President of the Sean Franklin fan club resides at 1 TSG Central, San Francisco, CA.

Okay, I detest punters…while, as I wrote on Twitter, I really like Nat Borchers game–I feel like he’d Mike Tyson your ear if it meant it would prevent you from scoring–I’ll go with Olave as my 1st 2nd choice here.

Comeback Player of the Year

Survivors: Chris Albright, New York — Bobby Convey, San Jose — Brek Shea, Dallas

The tribe has spoken: First, I hate this award…comeback from what? From injury…okay fair enough. Are there degrees of injuries? How good did the player have to be the year before? Bobby Convey played last year and Chris Albright is not really the answer for the Red Bulls this year. PASS.

I’ll sneak in a vote for Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez here.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Some decent picks, but with Jon Busch and Sean Johnson, I think you need to take their lack of games played into consideration.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/10/27 at 8:02 PM

      Fair points Evan…I needed a hometown pick..hence Busch (who still steadied SJE after Joe Cannon).

      On Sean Johnson, he was transformative for Chicago…lack of games not an issue there in my opinion.


      • How is the hometown pick not Wondo then? Also Sean Johnson had a good season and deserved to be on the shortlist, but not ahead of any of the three candidates who each probably would have won the award in a different year.


  2. It might be (a bit) unfair, but if the award is for Most Valuable Player, then LeToux really shouldn’t be on the list. The player selected has to prove his value by helping his team accomplish something. Yeah, they had a weak supporting cast, but the fact is that they didn’t make the playoffs, so how do you back LeToux’s value? By saying that they’d have missed the playoffs by an even wider margin had he not been there?

    Re: Rookie of the Year, I could make a case for Ream and for Najar. Time will tell who will have a better career for club and country, but extending my own logic re: LeToux, Ream should get the nod. With him a solid contributor in the back, NYRB won the conference, while despite Andy’s often-breathtaking efforts, DCU, um, did not.


  3. Posted by Berg on 2010/10/28 at 10:35 AM

    No love for Jimmy “White Puma” Nielsen between the posts?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/10/28 at 10:39 AM

      Good player…like I said..there a multiple players that should be considered.

      I like what Kevin did in Dallas and Neilsen was very solid too…not a slight not to mention him.


  4. I think Najar is a deserving winner. Ream is a very solid player, but was supported well by Bakke’s system. Najar has vision and a feel for the game that very few in the league do. Considering that he only turned 17 right before the season, this is incredible.

    If this were an MVP award, I’d go with Ream. But it’s not. The Rookie of the Year award is based upon talent, potential, style, ability to transition to a pro game. On all of these counts, Najar wins.

    And your comment about being a ‘consistent and critical starter’? It applies to Najar completely. He was the best player on DC United. (OK, that wasn’t saying much this year, but still…)


    • Posted by cosmosredux on 2010/11/03 at 9:15 AM

      Fair points from you always Matt. Just once can you pick a non-DC United player to defend. :>

      I think Najar was great…in flashes…. Najar played, what, 85% of his team’s games and was very good again in flashes.

      Ream came on, *started* all 30 games, dipped a little yes in the middle of the season (coinciding with partnership changes next to him), but commanded a critical position on a competitive team and is looked at as a leader.

      If this were Most Exciting Rookie of the Year well then Ream is fourth (behind Sean Johnson, Mwanga as well) but it’s the Rookie of the Year and should be given to the player that was consistently “the best” 1st year player, in my opinion.

      Mind you, I think Najar’s potential is by far the most out of Mwanga, Ream, etc.


      • Hey, I try really hard not to be a homer. There are plenty of players on other teams that I love to watch despite my loathing for those teams.

        i disagree that Najar was good only ‘in flashes’. As the season went on he grew more dangerous every game and was often the only threat DCU had.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love how Ream plays, and I think he’ll be a staple of our national team pool for years (with luck Najar will be too) But to do what Najar did week to week with a bad team, with a lineup decimated by injury? I think that tops it.

        Finally (and I’ll stop arguing after this :)) I don’t think you can dismiss potential as an afterthought. It’s central to making a case for the best rookie.


        • Posted by cosmosredux on 2010/11/03 at 9:36 AM

          You have all good thoughts Matt. I think my use of the word “robbed” was too strong.

          And your arguments all always succinct.

          You sir are still a homer though :>


        • No worries. I know I can tend to be a homer, so I fight that tendency.

          I could make a decent case for Ream as ROTY. Rank them 1a and 1b if you like. You can put the names in your way, and I’ll do the opposite.

          BTW, for a chuckle, here’s a picture I did to show the difference…


        • Posted by Anonymous on 2010/11/03 at 8:30 PM

          amen to that…just take into account what Najar had around him (speaking as a DC United fan, read: NOBODY but Hamid, and he was gone fairly quickly due to injury), and it’s clear that he deserved the award.


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