Rather than pretend to understand the mind set of MLS award voters, I am developing my own awards that I believe will best tell the story of the 2013 MLS regular season. These awards aren’t necessarily achievements but rather reference points that give more depth than the Golden Boot or Defender of the Year. This post is primarily dedicated to the awards with Throw-Ins about each of the knock-out matches. Starting next week the Throw-Ins will continue with more awards.
Best Goal Scorer of the Year
- Camilo Sanvezzo – Vancouver Whitecaps Total Goals 22, Inside 6 yards: 0, Inside 18 yards: 13, PK: 5, Outside Box: 4 (including 3 free kicks)
- Marco Di Vaio – Montreal Impact Total 20: Inside 6 yards: 2, Inside 18 yards: 15, PK: 0, Outside Box: 2
- Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy Total 16: Inside 6 yards: 2, Inside 18 yards: 7, PK: 5, Outside Box: 2
- Diego Valeri – Portland Timber Total 10 Inside 6 yard: 1, Inside 18 yards: 6, PK: 1, Outside Box: 2 (2 Chips and 3 Goals of the Week)
For me, the difference between the Best Goal Scorer and the Golden Boot is quality and variety. Even though three of my nominees are in the top 4 in total goals, the how and where these goals are scored are what are up for consideration. Having the ability to drive in a shot from outside the box displays more skill (or in Valeri’s case chipping it pass the keeper) than cleaning up a rebound inside the 6. Mike Magee, Diego Fagundez, and Juan Aguledo received consideration but of their 43 combined goals only 1 came from outside the penalty area. Robbie Keane was the most effect (16 in 23 games); Valeria and Camilo were more spectacular; but Marco Di Vaio wins it solely on degree of difficult. Di Vaio may very well be a one trick pony, playing off the center back’s shoulder, looking to snatch a ball for an open run. However, everyone knew it was coming and he still scored 20 goals and 0 from penalty kicks.
Trade Winner of the Year
- Mike Magee – Chicago
- Juan Agudelo – New England
- Will Johnson – Portland Timbers
- Jamison Olave – New York Red Bulls
The answer is oblivious Mike Magee for turning the Fire’s fortune around. Even though I don’t see him as a versatile scorer (see above) his presence, leadership and awareness in the box deserve a great deal of credit. With that out of the way, let us at least give a nod to the other three nominees. Juan Agudelo’s trade from Chivas USA to New England would have been as significant as Magee’s to Chicago if he could have stayed health. When Agudelo started for NE or Chivas, their combined records were 10-3-1 (W-T-L), and when subbed on, or did not play 5-4-11. Will Johnson’s versatility allowed Diego Valeri to focus on the attack and Diego Chará to sit back and sweep. He’s a box-to-box midfield in the mold of Frank Lampard that can clean up in the box or strike it long on the third run. Tim Cahill gets the credit for being emotional leader of the Red Bulls, but Jamison Olave is their backbone. He gave the backline the nastiness Mike Petke wanted, without committing cheap fouls in big situations like Rafa Márquez. No Olave, no Supporters’ Shield; there is no question about that.
Transfer of the Year
- Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
- Clint Irwin – Colorado Rapids
- Obafemi Martins – Seattle Sounders
- Raúl Fernández – FC Dallas
Coming from another league into MLS is not an easy transition. What is the common bond between the four nominees? They all signed early in the season. Summer transfers, historically, have difficulty adjusting to the league’s speed and physicality (see Marco Di Vaio and Tim Cahill’s numbers from last season). Even through Raúl Fernández played in the All-Star game and for his National Team (Peru), Diego Valeri is the clear pick. Valeri is a legitimate MVP candidate, the best playmaker in MLS, and the Timbers finished top of the West much to his credit.
Club That Got Screwed the Hardest by World Cup Qualifying/ Gold Cup
- Real Salt Lake
- LA Galaxy
- Sporting Kansas City
- San Jose Earthquakes
World Cup qualifying was the underlining story of the season. The anti-Jürgen drama from an anonymously sourced Sporting News piece; the success of the US National Team, the loss of key players for playoff contending clubs, and the legitimacy of MLS regular season were all points of interest. The LA Galaxy were harmed by both World Cup Qualifying and the Gold Cup (Donovan, Keane, and Gonzalez) but the Gold Cup brought Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo into their lives. San Jose was the only team to miss the playoffs, however their loss of players was for one month during the Gold Cup. SKC lost key players mostly due to World Cup qualifiers. Real Salt Lake had four players called up to their national teams (Beckerman, Rimando, Beltran, and Saborío) for both qualifiers and the Gold Cup. In their absences, the club went 2-2-3. RSL finished one point shy of the top seed in the West and two points from the Supporter Shield.
Best Player Traded From Toronto FC
- Maximiliano Urruti – Portland Timbers: 1 goal, 5 games (22 yo)
- Luis Silva – DC United: 3 goals, 2 assist, 13 games (24 yo)
- Ryan Johnson – Portland Timbers: 9 goals, 4 assist, 29 games (28 yo)
- Joao Plata – Real Salt Lake: 4 goals, 8 assist, 29 games (21 yo)
Allow me first to apology to the fans of Toronto FC, you don’t deserve the ridicule, embarrassment, and insult from your club’s front office and ownership. I am not trying to mock TFC fans, but rather point out the moronic decision making by the team’s executive members. It is not necessary to select a winner, because clearly this fan base are the only losers. If you want to burn BMO to the ground, you earned the right. Acquired in the trade for these four players TFC received 2013 Superdraft pick Kyle Bekker, GK Joe Bendik, 2014 1st Round Supplemental Draft Pick, Bright Dike (has promise… no wait he was loaned out to a USL Pro club last season and he’s 26!), 2015 MLS SuperDraft first round pick, and allocation money. None of the allocated cash was used to pay for Clint Dempsey, if you recall, because Kevin Payne thought he should play in the US (allegedly). Don’t worry TFC’s new 33 year old GM with no executive club experience or foreign club connections will get you all the anti-communist crusader Ryan Nelson promised and more.
This Week’s Throw-In’s
- Wednesday night Seattle turned everyone’s favorite dark horse into furniture store meatballs. Sigi finally resolved that annoying problem of a leaky right flank by playing Brad Evans in the right midfield instead of Rosales. Evans’ mobility and flexibility allowed Yedlin to overlap and venture forward without exposing the winger to counter attacks. Clearly Deshorn Brown’s dismantling of Yedlin earlier in the month got more than just the Jamaican National Coach’s attention.
- Seattle remains home to play Portland after the sloppy 2-0 victory. This win in no way removes the doubt brought upon by the club’s seven game winless run. Sigi still appears to have no clue how to utilize Dempsey and Dempsey appears to have no desire to play a role that doesn’t involve him doing whatever the hell he wants. If everyone is healthy and Deuce demands to be a free roaming number 10, I’m not sure he is one of their best five attacking players. Perhaps, Sigi should visit the School of Mike Petke Man Management and establish firmly but respectfully, what each man’s role is within his system. Or else in 2014, it will be a new system with a new manager.
- The Thursday night knock off round was the total opposite from the Wednesday night match. The ground was slow due to the rain, the stands were empty but the supporter were lively and noisy. Despite a few moments of tension, the home team decided the game early. The difference between the two teams: Dominic Kinnear knew his best XI and Marco Schällibaum knew everything he has tried of late failed.
- When Nelson Rivas was announced as a starter, every MLS related twitter feed recoiled from the smell of desperation. Initially, Rivas gave the Impact a bit of fight, but once the Dynamo scored the first goal it quickly turned to frustration. The rumors of Schällibaum not returning may have some validity, I think he deserves a second season after a revamp that included a combination of youth and MLS veterans. If this is the last we see of the Swiss Volcano and the aging Italian core it will be without tears for most. The end of the game actions by Romero and Di Vaio were cheap and gutless. I wouldn’t be surprised if the final three minutes of the match made Joey Saputo’s decision on Schällibaum easier.
About the author:
Jay’s first memory of professional soccer was watching a flaming haired pirate in a blue shirt with white stars menace a golden shirt lion on the field of roses. Since then, he has followed the game from the cradle of US soccer, Northern Jersey. Tracking the progress of the sport in the states through the international team and Major League Soccer he has become a student of tactical football, the business of sports and the cultural impact of the game. Jay enjoys the view from the ivory tower but is not afraid to be in arm’s length of the ultras in the South Ward. You can follow Jay on Twitter @rescindedred.