The first big award has been announced by Major League Soccer, and it's no surprise. Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong was an expected runaway winner, and he, indeed, was that.
Sapong easily won in each voting bloc -- media, club and player -- for a weighted vote of 106.28 after starting 22 games and contributing five goals and five assists as Sporting captured the Eastern Conference regular-season title. He scored another goal while playing every minute of K.C.'s three playoff games.
He was followed by D.C. United's Perry Kitchen (34.56), Philadelphia's Michael Farfan (33.50), Portland's Darlington Nagbe (28.76) and Houston's Will Bruin (27.44). Kitchen finished second in the media and club votes but fourth among players, who had Nagbe second and Farfan third.
Farfan (Wildomar) starred at Cal State Fullerton for two seasons, then transferred to North Carolina.
Previous winners of the award include Galaxy defenders Sean Franklin (in 2008) and Omar Gonzalez (2009), former Chivas USA star Jonathan Bornstein (2006), Inland Empire products Carlos Bocanegra (2000) and Maurice Edu (2007), U.S. national team star Clint Dempsey (2004) and D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen (1998).
MLS also gave out its Fair Play awards, with Philadelphia forward Sebastien Le Toux repeating as individual winner after committing just 20 fouls with no cards of either color while playing every minute of the season, and the expansion Portland Timbers winning the team honor. Chivas USA was a finalist for the team award.
COACHING NOTES: Two coaching jobs are open now. Colorado has parted ways with Englishman Gary Smith, who guided the Rapids to the MLS Cup title last year but acknowledged near the end of this campaign that he had working conflicts with technical director Paul Bravo. Steve Nicol stepped down as New England coach two weeks ago.
2011 MLS AWARDS
Rookie of the Year: C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City)
Golden Boot: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
Assists leader: Brad Davis (Houston)
Fair Play/Individuals: Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union)
Fair Play/Team: Portland Timbers
Defender of the Year (Nov. 9)
Humanitarian of the Year (Nov. 9)
Referee of the Year (Nov. 9)
Assistant Referee of the Year (Nov. 9)
MLS Best XI (Nov. 10)
Coach of the Year (Nov. 14)
Comeback Player of the Year (Nov. 14)
Newcomer of the Year (Nov. 15)
Goalkeeper of the Year (Nov. 15)
Goal of the Year (Nov. 16)
Save of the Year (Nov. 16)
MVP (Nov. 18)
Commissioner's Award (Nov. 18)