COMMENTARY | All Major League Soccer teams except the Seattle Sounders are halfway through 2013 league play, and thus the official MLS website has handed out some midseason awards. My biggest complaint after reviewing that piece was the fact that the team that currently sits atop the overall league standings wasn't even represented. That's an issue that I address twice while giving out my midseason honors.
2013 Major League Soccer midseason awards: Biggest surprise
League choice: Montreal Impact (Runner-up: Portland Timbers)
All due respect to both sides, but I don't see how either fits into a "biggest surprise" category. Montreal were always going to be at least a playoff side considering the talent and depth of their roster, while Portland are just three points clear of sixth place despite their impressive 15-game unbeaten run that came to an end this past weekend. These teams have been pleasant surprises for those fan bases, sure, but I'm far from shocked to see either in the top half of the league table.
Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, came out of nowhere to become the summer favorites to hoist the Supporters' Shield at the end of the 2013 campaign. Jason Kreis continues to be the most underrated head coach in all of MLS, although most wouldn't know it due to the lack of media coverage he and his club get on a weekly basis. Remember when this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for RSL?
Winner: Real Salt Lake
2013 Major League Soccer midseason awards: Biggest bust
League choice: DC United (Runner-up: San Jose Earthquakes)
The MLS website got both choices spot-on here. DC have gone from a team on the cusp of a MLS Cup Final to the very bottom of the league standings, on ten points after 19 matches played and 16 points away from a playoff spot. San Jose, while nowhere near as bad as are DC, have been unable to consistently find that late-game magic that propelled them to the Supporters' Shield last season. Frank Yallop, unlike Olsen, didn't even make it to the start of this summer before being shown the door by the 'Quakes.
Winner: DC United
2013 Major League Soccer midseason awards: MVP
League choice: Robbie Keane (Runner-up: Mike Magee)
I once again agree 100 percent with the MLS website piece. Keane is, apologies to Marco Di Vaio, the top front man in the league, an ageless wonder who has played a big part in the defending league champs climbing back up the table and to within just four points of Salt Lake. One could easily argue that the only reason the former Tottenham star hasn't buried more goals this season is because of a certain former teammate who will be mentioned in the next paragraph.
Magee, who scored six league goals for LA in 2013 before being traded to Chicago for Robbie Rogers, has carried the Fire on his back since the start of June. I can't rank Magee ahead of any other candidates at this time, simply because Chicago wouldn't be a postseason team if the regular season ended today. Magee likely takes MVP honors if the Fire go on to make the playoffs, but that's one big "if" as of the posting of this piece.
Winner: Robbie Keane
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2013 Major League Soccer midseason awards: Rookie of the Year
League choice: Dillon Powers (Runner-up: DeAndre Yedlin)
The truth of the matter is that I wouldn't have a problem with any of the four potential candidates listed in the MLS piece taking this particular award. If anything, Andrew Farrell of the New England Revolution probably deserved a little more love in that article. He may not pick up ROTY honors come this fall, but Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin gets the nod in this midseason review.
Fate saw Irwin go from a third-choice 'keeper to Colorado's starter in the early stages of the 2013 season, and the 24-year old didn't disappoint. Things haven't been all sunshine and rainbows for player or club over the past few weeks, but that, as pointed out by Soccer Newsday columnist Greg Moss, can't all be put on Irwin. Irwin could soon be replaced by former starter Matt Pickens, who suffered a broken arm back in March. That, if it were to occur, would end Irwin's season ROTY hopes for good.
Winner: Clint Irwin
2013 Major League Soccer midseason awards: Coach of the Year
League choice: Marco Schällibaum (Runner-up: Caleb Porter)
I mirrored MLS in matching my "biggest surprise" with COTY. The previously mentioned Kreis may never get the respect he deserves until/unless he goes to what some would consider to be a "bigger" club. Mike Petke is a New York Red Bulls legend who has done just fine in his first year as the team's head coach, but Kreis has shown why many within the RBNY fan base hoped he would consider making the switch to New York this past winter after the Red Bulls fired Hans Backe. He will be the undisputed COTY if RSL go on to win the 2013 Supporters' Shield.
Winner: Jason Kreis
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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