These deserving nominees are the biggest snubs of MLS Award season
The finalists for Major League Soccer’s 2014 awards are very worthy, without a single name on the list that elicits eye rolls. Who can argue with Robbie Keane as a potential MVP, or Steve Clark as one of the season’s best goalkeepers?
But in such a tremendous season for the league, there are bound to be absences perceived as snubs. And to the nominators: we’re not trying to call you ignorant. Rather, we’re taking up the duty of bestowing honor on those who should’ve or could’ve been given that award finalist high-five after the season.
[ MORE: Geoff Cameron joins NBC Sports ]
So to the MLS players, coaches and “media members who regularly covered the league”, sit back and enjoy your biggest screw-ups.
Rookie of the Year
Nominees: Tesho Akindele, Steve Birnbaum, Harry Shipp
Snub of the Year: Nick Hagglund
This one’s easy for us, considering our considerations for the award. While we tabbed the three finalists as contenders, Toronto FC defender Hagglund took a shot to the throat by not getting the voters’ nod. Hagglund was good year-round and is effective at both ends of the pitch. With the relative struggles of Michael Bradley and injuries to Steven Caldwell and Jermain Defoe, there’s an argument to be made that Hagglund was TFC’s best performer.
Defender of the Year
Nominees: Bobby Boswell, Omar Gonzalez, Chad Marshall
Snub of the Year: Matt Hedges
Great names abound on this list as well, but we’d like to see edges get a look. The FC Dallas defender was dominant in the back for Oscar Pareja’s unit, and should get a look at the USMNT’s January camp. His club had playoff credentials as well, though not as high profile as any of the three names above. Perhaps it’s like the Norris Trophy in hockey: once you’ve been recognized, you’re likely to be back.
[ MORE: Lille takes a look at Jozy Altidore ]
Goalkeeper of the Year
Nominees: Steve Clark, Bill Hamid, Nick Rimando
Snub of the Year: David Ousted
Vancouver’s goalkeeper was fundamentally-sound and capable of the sublime as well, and was probably the ‘Caps best player. Rimando deserves a career achievement award at this point, especially considering how he’s been criminally unrewarded in years past, but given his time away from the club for World Cup it would not have been criminal to give a nod to someone else. And speaking of fantastic saves, Bobby Shuttleworth was a human highlight reel in New England.
Newcomer of the Year
Nominees: Stefan Ishizaki, Jermaine Jones, Pedro Morales
Snub of the Year: Kendall Waston
Jones changed the trajectory of New England’s season, but Waston might’ve saved Vancouver’s playoff campaign. Long before his debatable handball gave FC Dallas a trip to the Conference semis, Waston was scoring the goal that put Vancouver into the postseason for the first time. The goal put a cap on his incredible arrival to Vancouver’s back line, where “starring” may not even be a strong enough adjective for his work.
Coach of the Year
Nominees: Gregg Berhalter, Ben Olsen, Sigi Schmid
Snub of the Year: Oscar Pareja
Our winner was Olsen, but Pareja’s turnaround of FC Dallas was a great bit of work and his second straight great reclamation project. He lost out on the award to Caleb Porter last season, and didn’t even make the top three this year despite the fact that he could have the rookie of the year in Tesho Akindele amongst other stars.
Most Valuable Player
Nominees: Robbie Keane, Obafemi Martins, Lee Nguyen
Snub of the Year: Bradley Wright-Phillips
Many are going to say Wright-Phillips for his record-tying goal campaign, and that’s pretty fair. We’ll abide, but there were a ton of other players who deserved a look versus our winner: Keane.