Thursday, November 25, 2010
My MLS bests ...
By Scott French
With the Major League Soccer season more or less behind us -- more trades to come from the expansion draft perhaps, and there's the re-entry draft coming up, and the Galaxy still has the friendly in Australia, but other than that -- here's one man's All-Major League Soccer 2010 selections:
David Ferreira (FC Dallas)
The most important player in the league couldn't quite get his club to the MLS Cup title, but he came close. The Colombian playmaker was at the heart of everything the Hoops accomplished.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Schellas Hyndman (FC Dallas)
I was all for New York's Hans Backe until the Red Bulls choked at home against San Jose and Hyndman unveiled a perfect game plan to beat the Galaxy in the Western Conference final. His 2½-year rebuild of FC Dallas was absolutely masterful.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas)
The Palos Verdes product (Peninsula HS/UCLA) had the greatest goalkeeping season in league history, his record 0.62 goals-against average merely hints at how good he was. Nobody made bigger, more brilliant saves.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)
The Costa Rican forward added dimensions to RSL's attack, turning MLS's champion into, arguably, its best team. He netted a dozen goals in MLS play, plus another six to prod the Utahns to next year's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Andy Najar (D.C. United)
The most electrifying player in MLS is a 17-year-old Honduran winger who might soon be starring for the U.S. national team. Oh, we hope so.
SOPHOMORE OF THE YEAR
Steve Zakuani (Seattle Sounders FC)
The Congo-born, London-raised, Akron-educated winger needed one full season to get his bearings in MLS, but he took over in year two, scoring 11 goals to lead the Sounders' attack. A rare blend of speed, power, skill, brains and incomparable self-confidence.
GK Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas): For all Ferreira did, with no Hartman, Dallas doesn't come near MLS Cup.
D Heath Pearce (FC Dallas): Turned his disappointment over missing the World Cup into a stellar season -- and on the right rather than at his usual spot at left back.
D Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake): Smart, regal center back provided the foundation that enables the MLS Defender of the Year next to him to do all the risky stuff that attracts so much attention.
D Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake): Tremendous athlete willing to try things other defenders won't. When it doesn't work, it's ugly; when it does, glorious.
D Jair Benitez (FC Dallas): Hoops' right back was the best attacking back in the league.
M Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): Won the Golden Boot with 18 goals to carry, almost single-handedly, the Quakes into the postseason for the first time since the relaunch.
M Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids): His partnership in the middle with Pablo Mastoeni provided the foundation for Colorado's success. And nobody was better in the MLS Cup final.
M David Ferreira (FC Dallas): The league's premier playmaker wonderfully orchestrated the Hoops' dynamic attack. Virtually unstoppable.
M Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy): Played provider more than scorer and led the league in assists (with 16), but more impressive: His defensive play and his peerless ability to turn the transition.
F Edson Buddle (L.A. Galaxy): Big, strong, fast and technical, Buddle was the best finisher in the league, scoring 19 goals (playoffs included) and winning a role at the World Cup in South Africa.
F Omar Cummings (Colorado Rapids): The Jamaican forward's pace made him the most feared attacker in MLS, and his connection with Conor Casey was pivotal in the Rapids' stunning championship run.
Others we liked ... a lot:
Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: Sean Franklin (L.A. Galaxy), Ugo Ihemelu (FC Dallas)
Midfielders: Daniel Hernandez (FC Dallas), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia), Joel Lindpere (New York), Steve Zakuani (Seattle), Bobby Convey (San Jose)
Forwards: Fredy Montero (Seattle), Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake), Conor Casey (Colorado)