Awards are great. In fact, there’s no real reason to get out of bed in the morning unless there’s at least a possibility that you’ll receive some sort of public tribute for your brilliance by sundown. Only a select number of Major League Soccer teams are still battling it out in the playoffs in hopes of achieving collective glory. But individual players and coaches are gathered ’round their laptops and stuffing digital ballot boxes, because it’s Major League Soccer awards season and, as I told you at the beginning of the paragraph, awards are great. Everyone knows this.
Official MLS awards are voted on by the players, MLS clubs, and media members. But as we all know, those people have trash opinions. The important votes, of course, will come from you, the fans. But before you head over to the league’s website to vote on this year’s winners, make sure you have all of the necessary information to make an informed decision. And by “necessary information,” I obviously mean “my opinions.” You don’t need people finding out that you don’t know who Fatai Alashe is (you don’t). Trust me, you don’t want that public ridicule.
Here we go:
[Corporate Sponsor] Rookie of the Year
Despite being handicapped by his nationality (Canadian) and the ridiculous spelling of his name, new rookie scoring record holder Cyle Larin of Orlando City SC is easily walking away with the Rookie of the Year award. Why? For one, you could be snuggled up next to San Jose Earthquakes’ Fatai Alashe, reading this off of his phone right now, and still not know who he is. Secondly, defensive midfielder is not the position to play if you ever plan on winning an award, so the Chicago Fire’s Matt Polster is out, too.
[Corporate Sponsor] MLS Goalkeeper of the Year
Unfortunately, “The Media” has already annointed D.C. United’s Bill Hamid as the heir apparent to the Friedel/Keller/Howard legacy, so this is another award that’s a complete waste of the other two nominees’ time. Hamid is great if you’re in a need of a goalkeeper who is excellent at saving shots fired directly at his chest, then screaming like a lunatic to make it appear more dramatic. People seem to be really into that.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ David Ousted, statistically, had a more impressive season than both Hamid and Red Bull New York’s Luis Robles, but when you play in the Pacific time zone, it’s unfair to expect anyone to be aware of your accomplishments.
MLS Defender of the Year
The Montreal Impact’s Laurent Ciman will beat out FC Dallas center back Matt Hedges and Vancouver’s Kendall Watson, but that’s not what matters about this award. The important thing to notice is that the Defender of the Year trophy doesn’t get the added kick of a corporate sponsor or honorary name like some of the other player awards, presumably because large corporations understand that there’s nothing sexy or aspirational about defending, and they don’t want to disgrace their brands by being associated with the idea of denying goals.
MLS Newcomer of the Year
This is the best collection of nominees for any of this season’s awards. There are the obvious big name foreign imports—Montreal’s Didier Drogba, Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco
David Villa Frank Lampard Andrea Pirlo Steven Gerrard Giovani dos Santos Kaká—and the Red Bulls’ Mike Grella. Giovinco will probably win here (more on him later), but the best story is easily Mike Grella. For all we know, this man was slicing sandwich meats in a Long Island deli this time last year, and now he’s lifting the Supporters’ Shield and inspiring cries for national team call-ups. Only in America!
MLS Coach of the Year
The Coach of the Year award is the annual “Yeah, we though you guys were going to be terrible this season; sorry about that” apology prize. It’s always given to the coach of the team that people were most incorrect about in their preseason predictions. Decent expectations were in place for Dallas (Oscar Pareja) and Vancouver (Carl Robinson), so there shouldn’t be anything standing between New York’s Jesse Marsch and this trophy—assuming there’s a trophy involved and not a gift certificate to J. Crew for fashionably bland coachwear. Marsch, who replaced war hero and curer of cancer Mike Petke, was handed a reshaped roster with the lowest payroll in the league and will walk away with at least one piece of silverware in 2015. That’s impressive.
Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player
The big one! Surprisingly, a refusal to apply oneself in Europe is not a requirement for winning the Landon Donovan award (amirite, Jürgen?!). When you consider that MLS’ talent level is higher than ever, Sebastian Giovinco just concluded the greatest regular season in league history. This MVP award is all his. Columbus Crew’s Kei Kamara is just lucky that Drogba arrived too late to be seriously considered for this award.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber is a wonderful nominee. All of Don Garber’s 2015 sins would be forgiven if he admitted to the press that the only reason Benny is nominated is to give a passive-aggressive middle finger to Klinsmann who, for whatever reason, still refuses to let Feilhaber anywhere near the national team while a money pit like Mix Diskerud got to spend the summer back-passing his way through the Gold Cup.
Congratulations to the winners!