Once again rather than pretend to understand the mind set of MLS award voters, I have developed my own awards that I believe will best tell the story of the 2014 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. Starting next week the Throw-Ins will continue with more awards.
Best Producer of Offense of the Year
- Bradley Wright-Phillips – New York Red Bulls: 27 goals, 2 assist – PKG 6/6 = 50 points
- Obafemi Martins – Seattle Sounders: 17 goals, 13 assist – PKG 1/1 = 46 points
- Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy: 19 goals, 14 assist – PKG 1/4 = 45 points
- Lee Nguyen – New England Revolution: 18 goals, 5 assist – PKG 4/4 = 37
- Dom Dwyer – Sporting Kansas City: 22 goals, 1 assist – PKG 7/8 = 36 points
Last season the award was best scorer of the year in which I broke down the location of each goal and decided the winner based on variety and quality of goals. This season the award would be handed to Bradley Wright-Phillips walking away. So this year I devised a simple formula (Goal x 2) + (Assist x 1) – (PK Goal x 1) – (PK Miss x 2) = Score. The thought is penalty kicks are free throws, should only count as 1 and you should be punished for missing. As you see BWP won with points to spare.
Best Centerback (on a New Team) of the Year
- Michael Parkhurst – Columbus Crew
- Bobby Boswell – DC United
- Chad Marshall – Seattle Sounders
- Kendall Waston – Vancouver Whitecaps
Does it look a lot like the probable Defensive Player of the Year Finalist list? Defense around the world has gotten worse and MLS was not immune. Last year’s top four DOY finalists struggled aside from Omar Gonzalez. What may have been considered league-average players or long forgotten former All-Stars have made major impacts to their new teams. DC United had a 22 goals against swing to the positive from 2013 to 2014 and finished tied with the best goals against. Boswell lost his first centerback partner Jeff Parke midseason due to injury, yet DCU maintained their quality in the back after slipping in rookie Steve Birnbaum. Boswell brought consistency and respect back to DCU, not bad for a Re-Entry Draft pick.
Toronto FC DP of the Year
- Michael Bradley – Toronto FC
- Jermain Defoe – Toronto FC
- Gilberto – Toronto FC
- Matias Laba – Vancouver Whitecaps
A healthy Jermain Defoe would have been the winner. Of course a healthy Defoe would have made this joke mute. Gilberto has been a major disappointment, not scoring his first goal until after the World Cup. Gilberto had an excellent August scoring in 4 straight games. Nevertheless you expect better than 7 goals and 5 assist from a DP. Bradley’s behavior toward officials was just embarrassing, if MLS was a bigger league in the media this would have raised more attention. Performance wise, I’m not sure he’s actually healthy this season so I’m willing to cut him some slack. Laba’s name is added to the long list of players to thrive after leaving Toronto FC. The front office should be given credit to wisely loaning him out rather than trading him. Laba played very well at Vancouver as the holding mid and should only improve. Bradley and Laba with a decent coach on the bench would instantly make TFC a better team.
Club That Got Screwed the Hardest by the World Cup
- Sporting Kansas City
- Real Salt Lake
- Houston Dynamo
- Toronto FC
This was a difficult question since the Sporting Kansas City problems during and after the World Cup is so well documented. Nevertheless, aside from Matt Besler no one was directly impacted negatively going to Brazil. The timing of injuries and the stretching of resources were their undoing. Toronto FC lost Bradley for a month and Julio Caesar permanently, not sure how much the loss of Caesar hurt. Real Salt Lake may have dropped a few points, but ended were they should have been. The biggest question regarding the Houston Dynamo is were they good enough to make the post season with Boniek Garcias and Brad Davis playing the entire season. Houston had a dreadful stretch from May 21 to July 19, 0-6-2. Without Davis in the lineup, they didn’t score a single goal.
Best Player Traded From Toronto FC in 2013
- Maximiliano Urruti – Portland Timbers: 10 goals, 2 assist, 30 games (23 yo)
- Luis Silva – DC United: 11 goals, 4 assist, 27 games (26 yo)
- Quincy Amarikwa – Chicago Fire: 8 goals, 5 assist, 32 games, Best Chicago Player as a Supporting Actor in Mike Magee’s Day Off (27 yo)
- Joao Plata – Real Salt Lake: 13 goals, 6 assist, 26 games (22 yo)
This was my favorite award last year so I decided to bring it back given the productivity of the above attacking players TFC traded away last season. Imagine keeping just one of those players, keeping Laba and not signing Gilberto and his 7 goals. That would have upgraded their attack and allowed more cap space to upgrade another position. The only change to this list was Amarikwa for Ryan Johnson who is currently playing in China.
This Week’s Throw-In’s… IT’S BACK!!!
- Another performance like their 4 goal outburst and New England is the best team in the playoffs talk can begin, honestly. Was Charlie Davis brace an aberration or a sign that the Revs figured out their striker problem? I’m tempted to stick with the latter until the next round (given they make it). I am hesitant to crown them regardless of Sunday’s score, Columbus will have to play open that entire match and no amount of goals, aside from a Bayern – Roma scoreline, would shock me.
- It would be interesting to see if Seattle is capable of grinding out a result. FC Dallas was better in possession, but the Sounders had more opportunities at goal. With Mauro Diaz returning to the lineup and FC Dallas being forced to put at least one in can Seattle defend a lead for 90 minutes or does Sigi want to play the course and go for a win at home?
- I have a feeling the poor officiating in the Real Salt Lake – LA Galaxy match set the tone from Sunday’s matches which were called very tight for a playoff games. Nevertheless, Jaime Penedo and Nick Rimando, to a lesser extent, put on a show in the best scoreless match since Brazil-Mexico during the World Cup.
- I am of the belief the Red Bulls should go for a goal in the first 30 minutes of their road match against DC United and if/when they score bunker in and force DC to score three. Without Silva, DC showed no ability to score on a worn down RBNY team that played 3 games in 7 days. In the first half RBNY did not keep their shape in the back while in possession, giving DCU an opening for a counter. They cleaned it up in the second half, but it was an opportunity DC probably would have taken advantage of with Silva on the field.