In the Monday MLS Breakdown, I spent a significant amount of space discussing the MLS MVP race. While that contest rightly dominates the headlines, there are other awards worth discussing. This edition of the Musings surveys the rest of the hardware handed out at the end of the season in order to get a read on the landscape heading into the final few weeks.
Defender of the Year
Chad Marshall has the inside track towards a repeat. If he does win for a second consecutive year, the award would justly reward both Columbus and Marshall for a stellar season. Geoff Cameron probably comes next on the list after his surprising emergence in the center of the Houston defense. From there, it tends to be a matter of preference with Jonathan Bornstein, Bobby Boswell, Wilman Conde, Jay Heaps and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado all worthy of consideration.
Goalkeeper of the Year
Zach Thornton's transformation from former star to current top-flight goalkeeper presents the best narrative and the best case. Kasey Keller will get his fair share of votes for coming up with the big saves time and again, a criteria that also mandates Donovan Ricketts' inclusion in the discussion. Pat Onstad never gets ruffled and never gets the attention he deserves, but the veteran Houston stopper is once again among the league's best.
Newcomer of the Year
This award is headed to Seattle, but its exact winner is still to be determined. Fredy Montero probably makes the most sense (12 goals, six assists), but Keller and Hurtado have viable claims as well. Don't discount Keller's name recognition among the voting electorate. Osvaldo Alonso and Freddie Ljungberg would have better cases if they didn't share the field with those three fellas. In the non-Seattle category, David Ferreira and Ricketts are the best options.
Rookie of the Year
The consensus is starting to build around Omar Gonzalez for his steady play in the middle of the Los Angeles defense, but his case probably isn't as strong as Stefan Frei's. The Toronto FC goalkeeper simply isn't getting enough credit for his work behind the shoddy TFC back line. Ever-present New England defender Darrius Barnes deserves to be mentioned in that group as well, though he hasn't attracted nearly as much attention. Kevin Alston, Sam Cronin, Chris Pontius, Rodney Wallace and Steve Zakuani are there or thereabouts.
Coach of the Year
Bruce Arena could have picked up this trophy at midseason and no one would have complained. Steve Nicol, Sigi Schmid and Robert Warzycha will jostle for the runner-up spot.
Around The League
- New England travels to the Cotton Bowl to face FC Dallas tonight in the lone midweek game on the MLS schedule.
- The Revs will be without Steve Ralston (torn ACL) for the rest of the season and Edgaras Jankauskas (adductor) for this two-game swing through Texas and Colorado.
- FC Dallas has scored at least two goals in each of its past five matches and a total of 15 goals over that span. While that pace is impressive, it pales in comparison to Jeff Cunningham's 14 goals in his past 11 games.
- While Cunningham's speed (and David Ferreira's creativity) will ask significant questions of the Revs, history suggests New England will find a way to get a result with an 11-4-1 all-time mark in Dallas and six consecutive wins over the Hoops at all venues.
- Columbus missed out on clinching a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals after conceding a stoppage-time header to draw 1-1 with Deportivo Saprissa on Tuesday night. Robbie Rogers' first half penalty handed the Crew the lead, but Alexander Robinson headed home Walter Centeno's free kick to keep the Costa Rican club's hopes of a spot in the quarters flickering heading into the final match day.
- The Crew will advance with a win or draw at Puerto Rico or a Saprissa loss or draw against Cruz Azul.
- D.C. United controls its own quarterfinals destiny ahead of San Juan Jabloteh's visit to R.F.K. Stadium tonight (8:00p.m., Fox Soccer Channel). A win, combined with a Marathon loss at Toluca, would almost certainly see United advance from its group.
- United goalkeeper Josh Wicks will miss the next four to six weeks after suffering a separated left shoulder and a sprained right medial collateral ligament in Sunday's 2-1 loss to San Jose. Milos Kocic will take over in goal with Wicks sidelined.
- Two old rivals will tango tonight in Houston as the Dynamo hosts Pachuca (10:00p.m., Fox Soccer Channel). Both sides are odds-on to advance from group play, but the Dynamo would almost ensure progression if it adds a third victory in four tries over the Mexican side at Robertson Stadium.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSnet.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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