COMMENTARY | I never understand even the idea of selecting end of the year awards before the final game of the campaign is played. That was especially true for the 2013 Major League Soccer regular season. The league's MVP and Coach of the Year awards were, for my money, only clinched on the last Sunday of October. Some may suggest that my selections are a bit "homer-riffic" in favor of the New York Red Bulls.
Don't look now, everybody, but RBNY are champions. Really. It happened.
2013 MLS regular season awards: MVP
I said it after his historic goal at Houston Dynamo, and I'll say it again here: The correct answer is New York designated player Tim Cahill, and I don't want to hear otherwise. Debates over whether or not Chicago Fire star Mike Magee deserves this award officially became ridiculous on Sunday night.
Everybody needs to close the MLS stats tab in their browsers. One guy helped lead his team to a regular season championship. The other guy features for a side that didn't qualify for a postseason tournament that includes ten of the league's 19 clubs.
Magee turned an awful Chicago squad into one that had its playoff fate in its own hands heading into its last game. That's commendable. Cahill was the most vital and most valuable player in the league's best team.
2013 MLS regular season awards: Coach of the Year
Caleb Porter exceeded high expectations in leading Portland Timbers to the top of the Western Conference. He's also a darling among the US Soccer media, so odds are that he is taking home league COTY honors. I, on the other hand, believe Porter lost the award on Sunday night.
You have to remember back to this past spring. Some were predicting that the Red Bulls were going to struggle to even qualify for the postseason, and also that Mike Petke wouldn't even make it through his first year as a head coach. Now, here we are at the end of October, and RBNY are regular season champions.
The New York squad is undeniably talented, but to deny Petke of this honor would be to ignore the job that he did in the second half of the season. Who would have thought that benching Thierry Henry would turn out to be the stroke of genius that catapulted the Red Bulls to a Supporters' Shield run? That decision helped change the outcome of the regular season.
2013 MLS regular season awards: Defender of the Year
You may notice a trend in my picks. Somebody out there is likely to suggest that New York's Jamison Olave was not the most athletic nor was he the top defender in MLS this season. When I look at Olave, I see a guy who not only made his back line a championship-caliber one. Olave helped turn the career of goalkeeper Luis Robles around.
The Red Bulls are in a much different spot, perhaps even on the outside looking in come November, without the contributions of Olave. I cannot think of another defender who meant more to his squad. This could, all things considered, be the easiest award to decide.
2013 MLS regular season awards: Goalkeeper of the Year
I'll admit that I was tempted to choose the previously mentioned Robles. He turned a corner near the start of summer, to the point that I would right now not take any other 'keeper over him. In the end, however, I had to go with Donovan Ricketts of Portland.
The veteran was, in the eyes of some, seen as washed up when he was acquired by the Timbers. All Ricketts did was earn 14 shutouts and a goals against average of 0.97 in 2013. I won't argue with anybody who chooses Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) over Ricketts, but it's the Portland man for me.
2013 MLS regular season awards: Rookie of the Year
The 2013 ROTY race is between Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown of the Colorado Rapids. Both helped turn the Rapids from a somewhat forgotten side to a playoff team that could, if they survive the Wild Card round and get hot, make a run. I, like a majority of the MLSSoccer.com editors, went with Powers.
Powers played in roughly 300 more minutes than did Brown, and he also made five additional starts. A cynic could argue that you could find one or even two rookies who were flashier or have more talent. None were more consistent than Powers, who deserves this award.
2013 MLS regular season awards: Newcomer of the Year
I jumped on the Clint Irwin bandwagon early when he went from third on the Colorado depth chart to starting goalkeeper. I see no reason to get off of it now. Irwin is the best young 'keeper in all of MLS, and the US top-flight will be but a stepping stone for the 24-year old if he continues to improve.
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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