Wednesday, June 23, 2021

And we're back...

Time has been thin with MLS back in full swing and all these summer tourneys going on (and, erm, a couple days swimming at the beach because for some bizarre reason it was hotter than the devil's armpit this weekend), but all the excuses stop here. I promised you all the toughest, most agonizing AAotY pick in historical history (ahem) in this post. So let's get to it... but not before we chomp down on an appetizer year that wasn't exactly slim pickings itself.

91/92 Tab Ramos

Earnie Stewart was again solid, netting seven goals for a middling Willem II side. Peter Vermes was solid as a back-up forward for Figueres, who finished third in Segunda División to reach the promotion playoff. It's not an automatic call, but this one has to go to Vermes' teammate. Ramos was a proper midfield engine for that side, and his all-around play during this season earned him a move to Real Betis.

By the way, we also simply must give an honorable mention to Colchester United forward Mike Masters. I can practically hear you all saying "Umm who?" right now, so let me clear it up: he was an eight-goal super-sub on a U's side that won the Conference title to climb back into the Football League and became the first American to score at Wembley as the club competed a non-league double by winning the FA Trophy (Masters bagged the early opener in their 3-1 final win).

90/91 Roy Wegerle

Perhaps I should have re-thought the format of unveiling these, because I just killed all the suspense. Just pretend I didn't. You see, this was a season that saw Stewart explode for 17 goals (including two hat tricks, a decisive double against Ajax and four winners in all) during his debut Eredivisie term. It also saw John Harkes enjoy a dream debut season for Sheffield Wednesday, where he lit the cannon on the second flight Goal of the Year, helped the team earn promotion to the Prem and patrolled the middle in a 1-0 League Cup final upset of Manchester United.

Those two guys fill out a runaway top three, but there were others who could contend better for the AAotY in another year. Over in Germany, Thomas Dooley was a key defender on Kaiserslautern's Bundesliga champions. There was also Steve Trittschuh, who became the first American to play in the European Cup during his brief stay at Sparta Prague. And Frank Klopas, who enjoyed his best AEK Athens season, chalking up four goals in 19 starts to help the team earn a UEFA Cup berth. And let's not forget Ramos, who was consistently strong in his debut Figueres season.

You're probably thinking "Geez, how the hell does anyone top all those guys? Well, here's how. Eighteen goals for English  top flight middlers QPR, including a still legendary Goal of the Season. Yup, with a fair edge in league level over Harkes and Stewart, that'll do it.

- Greg Seltzer

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