The Morrison Report – MLS Awards Edition

Who knew how hard this was going to be?  A week off between legs of the Conference Finals, it turns out, is torture.

So, to help pass the time, The Morrison Report presents its league-wide awards for the 2013 regular season.

MVP – Mike Magee.  I wrote this initially for Tim Cahill, but Magee’s statistical contributions to Chicago Fire are too great to ignore.  In Magee’s 22 appearances, the Fire logged 41 points.  In the 12 games in which he didn’t play, they earned 8.  You can talk about 21 goals until you’re blue in the face, but it’s the difference he made for the Fire that makes Magee an unusual MVP for a non-playoff team.
Honorable Mention: Tim Cahill, Diego Valeri, Robbie Keane.

Coach of the Year – Caleb Porter.  Okay, let’s be honest.  This isn’t even close.  The other bona fide candidates, Mike Petke and Jason Kreis, came into the year with substantially more in the cupboard than Porter.  With his late winter hiring, Petke inherited a core of Henry, Cahill, Olave, Holgersson, and Espindola.  Petke did a nice job of turning them into a more coherent team than years past, but there was plenty to work with there.[1]  Much the same goes for Kreis, who – while losing some pieces from 2012 – still returned Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javi Morales, and Alvaro Saborio.  Kreis did well to work some newbies into that fold, but that’s a very good veteran fold to mix youngsters into.  Porter, on the other hand, inherited a mess with Diego Chara as his only real sum-certain piece.  He turned an incoherent franchise into one of the best teams MLS in the span of one year. That’s why he’s the easy pick for Coach of the Year.
Honorable Mention: Kreis, Petke, Oscar Pareja.

Goalkeeper of the Year – Nick Rimando.  This is close between Rimando and Donovan Ricketts – numbers one and two, respectively, in save percentage.  Both keepers preserved numerous results for their respective teams in 2013.  So, this is close.  Ultimately, I lean toward Rimando on account of RSL’s 2-3-2 record when he didn’t play, compared to 1-0-1 for the Timbers when Ricketts was absent.  Fair?  Probably not, but when the margin between two players is this close, it makes a difference.
Honorable Mention: Ricketts, Troy Perkins.

Defensive Player of the Year – Jose Goncalves.  Played every minute of 2013, and was the primary cog in a New England defense whose improvement this year was the key factor in their improvement from 9th to 3rd in the Eastern Conference.  His centerback partnership was in flux for much of the year, but Goncalves provided the consistency that led New England to 14 shutouts – one short of a league high.[2]
Honorable Mention: Jamison Olave, Omar Gonzalez,[3] Matt Besler.

Best Eleven – Nick Rimando; Jose Goncalves, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez; Diego Valeri, Tim Cahill, Javier Morales, Will Johnson; Mike Magee, Robbie Keane, Camilo Sanvezzo.
Honorable Mention: Donovan Ricketts; Aurelien Collin, Jamison Olave, Seth Sinovic, Chris Klute; Graham Zusi, Diego Fagundez, Federico Higuain, Darlington Nagbe; Marco DiVaio, Alvaro Saborio.

Onward, Rose City!

[1] If “he broke a curse!” is one of your criteria for Coach of the Year, please do the soccer reading world a favor and hang up the typewriter.

[2] Held by, well, you know.

[3] Gonzo has actually been a little bit underrated this year.  The Galaxy gave up 11 goals in the 7 games he missed, for a GAA of 1.57 in his absence compared to 1.00 when he played.

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