SN Picks!: 2013 MLS Year End Awards

The Soccer Newsday staff declared this season’s award winners
by Herb Scribner   |   Friday, November 22, 2013

Major League Soccer (MLS) 2012 Season Preview

In this edition of SN Picks!, the Soccer Newsday staff offers its choices for many of the MLS year end awards, as well as a few new ones.

MLS MVP:  Mike Magee (60%)

There was little debate among the Soccer Newsday staff who should walk away with the MLS’s Most Valuable Player award. Mike Magee, who was close to winning the 2013 Golden Boot, was traded from the Los Angeles Galaxy to the Chicago Fire and helped push the team towards a playoff run, which fell short right at the end of the season.

“There’s no doubt his ‘magic’ salvaged what would’ve otherwise been a disaster of a season,” said one SN writer.

Honorable mentions:
Robbie Keane
Marco Di Vaio
Tim Cahill

Rookie of the Year: DeAndre Yedlin (30%)

In a tight race, DeAndre Yedlin of the Seattle Sounders emerged as the Rookie of the Year in the eyes of the Soccer Newsday staff, barely beating out Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown and Andrew Farrell. Yedlin was strong in the backline for the Sounders, helping them reach the second round of the playoff this year.

“He’s a dynamic young rightback with awesome hair,” noted one SN writer.

Honorable mentions:
Andrew Farrell
Deshorn Brown
Dillion Powers

Manager of the Year: Caleb Porter (70%)

It was an easy choice for the SN staff in selecting Caleb Porter, who coached his way to the MLS Western Conference Finals in his first season as a professional manager.

One Soccer Newsday writer said that although Mike Petke of Red Bull New York “maintained the locker room during some rough patches to guide RBNY to their first ever trophy, Porter’s achievement was more impressive. He transformed a lost club that was third worst in the league to winner of the West with a distinct style and view.”

Honorable mentions:
Oscar Pareja
Mike Petke

Club of the Year: Red Bull New York (57%)

Supporters’ Shield winners and a consistently successful team all year, Red Bull New York was the Soccer Newsday staff’s top side. Portland was a close second, but Red Bulls had that extra something special this year.

One SN writer said: “The Red Bulls finally lived up to all of the talent they've always had.”

Honorable mentions:
Portland Timbers
New England Revolution
Sporting KC

Attacker of the Year: Marco Di Vaio (20%)

He didn’t win the Golden Boot, but his stamp on the Montreal Impact’s season was enough to garner him Attacker of the Year honors. Di Vaio notched goal after goal and completely reformed the Impact.

“Montreal has the worst defense of all playoffs teams. No way they would’ve been successful this season without his goals,” said one SN writer.

Honorable mentions:
Mike Magee
Robbie Keane

Midfielder of the Year: Diego Valeri (55%)

Diego Valeri was selected by the SN staff for a number of reasons. One writer said Valeri was the only midfielder in the running for MVP, which shows he’s a step above in class. Another said that without Valeri, Portland wouldn’t have made the turnaround it did. He was an essential cog in Porter’s system, and certainly made his value known throughout the league.

Honorable mentions:
Will Johnson
Lee Nguyen
Kyle Beckerman

Goalkeeper of the Year: Donovan Ricketts (50%)

In another close decision, Donovan Ricketts walks away with the Goalkeeper of the Year award in the eyes of the Soccer Newsday staff. Rickets held Portland together all year, saving the team on multiple occasions.

“Also, let’s not forget that the Timbers were playing a pair of back up centerbacks for the majority of the season,” noted one SN writer.

Honorable mentions:
Clint Irwin
Luis Robles
Dan Kennedy
Nick Rimando

Defender of the Year: Jose Goncalves & Matt Besler (33%)

Both Matt Besler and Jose Goncalves did enough to divide the Soccer Newsday staff on Defender of the Year honors. Besler managed to be successful at Sporting KC, even though he was in-and-out with appearances with the United States Men’s National Team.

And Goncalves changed the Revolution backline, said one SN writer. Another member of the Soccer Newsday staff said it’s barely up for debate in regards to Goncalves.

“Why is there even debate to be had? Revs went from one of the worst to one of the best defenses in the league. JoGo has played every minute this year,” the writer said.

Honorable mentions:
Jamison Olave
Chris Klute

Goal of the Year: Camilo scissor kick vs. Timbers (63%)

One SN writer sums it up perfectly:

“Without a doubt, Sanvezzo’s flying side volley scissor-kick from hell was the cherry on top of not only Vancouver’s thrashing of Seattle, but also MLS’s top goal scored. You know an award-worthy goal when you see it. This is it.”

Honorable mentions:
Thierry Henry vs. Chicago Fire
Juan Agudelo vs. Chicago Fire
Frederico Higuain vs. Red Bull New York

Pass of the Year: Dax McCarty pass to Henry (29%)

Soccer calls for so many passes and assists that it’s hard to keep track. But for the Soccer Newsday writers, Dax McCarty’s squaring pass was a step above the rest.

Honorable mentions:
Thierry Henry turnaround, no-look pass vs. Houston Dynamo
Tim Cahill vs. Columbus Crew
Steve Zakuani vs. Portland Timbers
Peguy Luyindula vs. Houston Dynamo

12th Man of the Year: Lamar Neagle & Kekutah Manneh (50%)

Lamar Neagle and Kekutah Manneh split the honors for 12th Man of the Year. Neagle impressed for Seattle on multiple occasions, and Manneh is “a very good young talent the Vancouver Whitecaps should be very excited about,” one SN writer said.

Supporters’ of the Year: Seattle Sounders (38%)

“I know, I know, it's the easiest answer,” said one SN writer. “However, when you average 20,000 more fans than any other club does, it's very hard not to put Seattle up at the very top of the list.”

Seattle’s fans did a wonderful job this year of exciting the crowd and getting viewers, analysts and players excited. Sounders fans are certainly the benchmark for the rest of the league, at least in the eyes of the SN staff.

Honorable mentions:
Portland Timbers
Chicago Fire
Red Bull New York
Columbus Crew

Story of the Year: The Mike Magee/Robbie Rogers Trade (33%)

The Mike Magee trade was a move that had outlasting effects on the entire league. Not only did Magee’s have a “magic effect on the Galaxy and the Fire,” said one SN writer, but it also included Robbie Rogers playing for the Galaxy, which made him the first active gay professional team sports player in the country.

Honorable mentions:
Clint Dempsey returns to MLS
Portland’s rise in the Western Conference
Eddie Gaven retires
Rookies improve RSL
Landon Donovan’s resurgence

Most Improved Player: Darlington Nagbe & Will Johnson (25%)

Will Johnson has emerged this year in Portland as a leader and skillful player. “Johnson went from a player who was good for Real Salt Lake, to a superstar for the Portland Timbers. He was truly an elite player this season,” said one SN writer.

Nagbe similarly raised his game and was a crucial cog in Portland’s system.

“Under his old coach, he is showing signs that now he can meet his potential,” a SN writer said.

Honorable mentions:
Diego Fagundez
Mike Magee
Dom Dwyer

Most Improved Team: Portland Timbers (75%)

“OK, so they weren’t dead last in 2012, but they were hardly a beacon of quality in the league,” one SN writer said. “Even when Caleb Porter was announced as new head coach, questions lingered after the failed USA Olympic qualification under his stead. But those fears were quickly washed away.”

That’s the feeling among the majority of the Soccer Newsday staff. Little debate was had in considering the most improved team, as Portland undoubtedly raised its game in 2013 and became an MLS powerhouse after just one offseason.

Honorable mentions:
New England Revolution
Real Salt Lake

Most Disappointing Player: Chris Wondolowski (44%)

“The most disappointing player is last year’s MVP,” said one Soccer Newsday writer.

Though a popular choice might be Clint Dempsey, the Soccer Newsday staff saw Wondo as the biggest disappointment this year. He owned the league last year, scoring every change he got and leading the San Jose Earthquakes to the playoffs. This year he was barely noticeable and failed to lift his team when they needed him most.

Honorable mentions:
Juninho
Darren Mattocks
Chris Pontius
Dwayne De Rosario

Most Disappointing Team: DC United (44%)

DC United ended 2012 after a deep playoff run. But this year they were the worst MLS team in league history. And aside from a US Open Cup victory, United was disjointed, broken and as low as you can get in terms of an MLS side.

“No amount of tactical acumen, veteran presence, or youth movement was enough to turn around a dismal performance game after game,” said one SN writer.

Honorable mentions:
Toronto FC
Vancouver Whitecaps
Seattle Sounders

It’s clear that MLS fans are divided on which players, teams and storylines deserve top honors, but that’s part of what makes the game so great. 2013 was a strong and fantastic year in MLS. And this year, maybe more than any other, has marked that growth and expansion of soccer in America isn't slowing down.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.
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