Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Prize Show

We'll get back to the Clipboard in a bit, but first I'll drop my MLS award picks. Just to be clear, this is not an unveiled official ballot.

MVP (announced Dec. 4)

Diego Valeri, Portland - I fully get the logic behind giving another one to David Villa (even if NYCFC were 3-2-1 when he didn't start). But this one has to go the Timbers talisman. Valeri bagged 15 openers, a league-best seven winners and his team went 9-4-4 when he scored.

Defender of the Year (Nov. 9)

Ike Opara, Sporting KC - the league's most athletic deterrent, headlining the stingiest defensive unit. Opara also moved the ball forward well and pitched in with a few big goals.

Goalkeeper of the Year (Nov. 16)

Tim Melia, Sporting KC - Other keepers had fantastic stretches, but nobody was as consistent on the line as the Sporting KC man. He also led all MLS net men with five total PK stops, with three in league play and two in the US Open Cup champs' semifinal victory.

Newcomer of the Year (Nov. 20)

Miguel Almirón, Atlanta United - This is a very tough call, and that's even before you consider how it's criminal there's no room for the likes of Victor Vázquez (not to mention Romain Alessandrini, Blerim Dzemaili, Leandro Gonzalez Pires, Albert Rusnak, Chris Mavinga, etc.). If the TFC midfielder was an option, I might just go for him. But he's not and the quickness with which Almiron can turn ball pressure into a fast break makes him a worthy winner.

Rookie of the Year (Nov. 8)

Julian Gressel, Atlanta United - It's tempting to go with Jack Elliott, who was third on this team in minutes played, proved to have rather nimble feet on the ball and topped the Philly Union in clearances. However, Gressel wove seamlessly into three key positions, making 25 starts to add a supplemental attack threat on a good team.

Coach of the Year (Nov. 27)

Gerardo Martino, Atlanta United - I could certainly have gone with Greg Vanney, but ya gotta give it up for a guy who walks in the door to install both a distinct (and oft-terrifying) identity and the ability to get results. The right man in the right time at the right place gets it done.

Comeback Player of the Year (Nov. 15)

Federico Higuaín, Columbus Crew - The question here revolves around how much weight one places on the intensity of the actual comeback. If coming back from a heart scare after sitting out an MLS Cup while your team wins deepens your judgment, Clint Dempsey is the obvious choice. From a pure performance level standpoint, Higuain is the choice for rallying from a stunted 2016 campaign.

MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year (Tomorrow)

Ryan Hollingshead, FC Dallas - I mean the dude got hit by a car while trying to help someone in bad conditions. The fact that he was able to return to FC Dallas action in about four months is amazing.

- Greg Seltzer

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