Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Beginning of the End

Thanks to another tournament group phase and MLS returning to heavy business, both my free time and my sleep schedule have been obliterated since I promised the end of this AAotY exercise would wrap. Now that we're in the pre-knockout pause and MLS spent most of their midweek games last night, I actually have a breather to start tying this bow.

Because the crop to pick from is basically lean to nil from the mid-'80's, we'll stop the annual awards reverse roll-out here. However, we won't quite be done with the story.

In part deux, I will name some "veteran's committee" AAotY winners who'll be honored for brief eras, as opposed to a single season. Finally, I'll run some numbers on all this AAotY "history" - because why wouldn't I?

For now, though, let's get to the last two seasons in this memory lane stroll.

86/87 Thomas Dooley

In truth, this might be the weakest winning season of the whole bunch, as the Homburg defensive handyman missed a chunk of the spring. Though he was limited to 23 starts for a team that slipped into the Bundesliga relegation playoff (where they did edge St. Pauli without Dooley). He did bag a DfB-Pokal first round winner, but overall this campaign was vanilla compared to that of most winners, including...

85/86 Thomas Dooley

Thanks to this "inaugural" AAotY coronation, it "retroactively" means Dooley "was the first" player to pull off an "award" three-peat ("later" to be joined by Kasey Keller and Clint Dempsey). And while his competition for the prize (basically just Roy Wegerle struggling for PT at Chelsea) was barely there, this was more than a worthy winning campaign. Dooley led the stingiest defense in the German second flight and banged home 13 goals, including the closing day winner that clinched the title for Homburg. If that wasn't enough, he scored another DfB-Pokal goal along the path to helping the team push mighty round-of-16 foe Borussia Dortmund to extra time.

Below you'll see two of several corner kick headers from that season in a rout of Wattenscheid.

- Greg Seltzer

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