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MLS announces 2009 award finalists

November 2, 2009 | 2:10 pm 5
By George Tanner


Seattle’s Kasey Keller is a finalist for numerous Major League Soccer awards, including goalkeeper of the year. (photo by Jonathan Ingraham/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

Major League Soccer released the finalists for the league’s 2009 awards today. The winners will be announced starting Wednesday and ending Nov. 19.

The finalists, listed in alphabetical order below for each award, earned the most votes in polling of MLS players, general managers, coaches, referees and members of the media. The MLS W.O.R.K.S.–U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year will be determined by representatives from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S., and is scheduled to be announced Friday.

This season’s most outstanding individual plays will be honored on Nov. 18, when the goal and save of the year are announced. Voting for the goal and save of the year is conducted on the league’s Web site.

The 2009 awards announcements culminate Nov. 22 with the unveiling of the Commissioner’s Award winner.

To go along with the announcement of the league’s award finalists, I’ve included my votes, in order, below.

GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders
Donovan Ricketts – Los Angeles Galaxy
Zach Thornton – Chivas USA
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Thornton
2) Keller
3) Will Hesmer - Columbus Crew
Hesmer was huge in the Crew’s 1-0 victory over the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids went 1-0-2 in all competitions against the Galaxy, and they were done playing Los Angeles by April, well before the Glax got hot. So we didn’t see Ricketts at his finest, either.

FAIR PLAY FINALISTS
Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders
Pat Onstad – Houston Dynamo
Steve Ralston – New England Revolution
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Keller
2) Nat Borchers - Real Salt Lake
3) Chad Marshall - Columbus Crew
I wanted to vote for Omar Cummings of the Rapids, who never falls down unless he’s physically unable to keep himself upright and who never mouths off to the referee unless he believes he was wronged and a more-favorable call would’ve changed the outcome of the match. The two candidates from the Rapids who we were able to choose from were Pat Noonan and Scott Palguta. And why wasn’t Borchers among the three finalists? He was one of a handful of MLS players to start every match, and he committed fewer than 30 fouls during the season.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Brian McBride – Chicago Fire
Ben Olsen – D.C. United
Zach Thornton – Chivas USA
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Thornton
No one deserves this more than Zach Thornton. I made only one vote.

DEFENDER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Geoff Cameron – Houston Dynamo
Jhon Kennedy Hurtado – Seattle Sounders FC
Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Marshall
2) Wilman Conde - Chicago Fire
3) Borchers
Marshall was spectacular against the Rapids in August (and all year against everyone). He is the best defender in the league. Conde also was dominant against the Rapids; his Fire squad shocked the Rapids on July 4, and he scored the winning goal. It was perhaps the best performance by a defender in a Rapids game all year. Borchers was instrumental in shutting down Casey in the season finale. He played every game for the Utah squad and was named the team’s MVP.

REFEREE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Alex Prus
Ricardo Salazar
Kevin Stott
I chose not to vote in this category.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Stefan Frei – Toronto FC
Omar Gonzalez – Los Angeles Galaxy
Chris Pontius – D.C. United
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Gonzalez
2) Frei
3) Steve Zakuani - Seattle Sounders
Gonzalez was a beast against Casey in those early games. He was the reason the Rapids won only one of the three meetings between the teams. Frei might win the award. Pontius was the early leader, but I thought he slowed as the season wore on.

COACH OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Bruce Arena – Los Angeles Galaxy
Sigi Schmid – Seattle Sounders FC
Robert Warzycha – Columbus Crew
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Arena
2) Warzycha
3) Denis Hamlett - Chicago Fire
Arena should and will win this. In Los Angeles, he made lemonade out of turmoil and dissension. It was a mess, and he turned it around.

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Kasey Keller – Seattle Sounders FC
Freddie Ljungberg – Seattle Sounders FC
Fredy Montero – Seattle Sounders FC
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Keller
2) Montero
3) Ricketts
I don’t think Ljungberg played enough to be considered here. I was surprised that Ricketts was not selected by more of the voting group. However, I’d have liked to have seen Scott Palguta among the candidates in this category. I thought he was deserving.

MVP FINALISTS
Jeff Cunningham – FC Dallas
Landon Donovan – Los Angeles Galaxy
Shalrie Joseph – New England Revolution
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Conor Casey - Colorado Rapids
2) Brad Davis - Houston Dynamo
3) Donovan
If Casey wins the Golden Boot, he’s among the finalists (and Cunningham isn’t). If the Rapids make the playoffs, Casey is among the finalists (and Cunningham isn’t). If he’s the leading scorer AND the Rapids win that last game, Casey has a legitimate shot at the award. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. … I thought Davis, after D-Ro went to Canada, really showed he was capable of leading one of the best teams in the league. Donovan will win.

PUBLIC RELATIONS AWARD
GEORGIE VOTED FOR …
1) Colorado Rapids
2) New England Revolution
Of course I voted for the Rapids! Jason Gilham, Kieran Cain and Co. are helpful, friendly, available, fast and good. That James Bond intro before every game was classic! They are overworked and understaffed, yet they don’t let that show. Best PR combo ever. And Lizz Summers of New England was one of the few visiting media relations workers who went out of her way to update the Denver-area media about the visiting team. Good on ya!

The media also got to vote on the league’s best 11 players, but I’ll withhold my choices until the league makes an announcement. Here’s one hint: I voted for only one player not mentioned in this post. And it wasn’t Guillermo Barros Schelotto (who was listed as a forward, but I wanted to put him on the team as an attacking midfielder).

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5 Comments »

  • StinkStink said:

    Lemme guess … there’ll be several Rapids on the team? Casey for MVP? c’mon!

  • George Tanner (author) said:

    actually, StinkStink, only one rapids player on the team. and you can pretty much guess who that is. as i said, only one player not on this post is on the team. and i’d have picked schelotto if they’d have listed him at midfield. but they didn’t. so i got creative.

  • DClee said:

    Interesting post. Pontius deserves Rookie of the year after that assist from Gonzalez to Galindo over the weekend and I’m only kidding as obviously the regular season only counted.

  • George Tanner (author) said:

    pontius had a great start. i think he did his best work, however, on MTV’s “Jackass.”

  • StinkStink said:

    Where are the Earthquakes? Or did they fall below the StinkStink line? Ha!
    Casey deserves his sport on the first 11 in my opinion, I was just busting your chops. Love the blog!

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