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My votes for 2009 postseason awards

December 15, 2009 | 11:59 pm 2
By George Tanner

In the past, the Colorado Rapids asked members of the media to participate in voting for the annual team awards, but there were more categories. In 2006, for instance, I voted on rookie of the year, the leadership award, playmaker of the year, reserve team MVP, most improved player, defender of the year and team MVP.

This year the categories were limited to MVP, defender of the year, young player of the year, USSF humanitarian of the year and youth teams player of the year. Because I didn’t believe I’m qualified to vote on the latter two categories, that left only three for me: MVP, defender and young player.

Here are the winners:
MVP: Omar Cummings

To read more about Clark’s humanitarian efforts and the 2009 season of Roslund, a Denver Christian High School graduate, go here.

And here were my choices:

YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Because of the caveat that this award be reserved for players younger than 25, I had to break out my media guide and see who was eligible. Roughly, the field looked to consist of anyone born in 1985 or later. That would include Greg Dalby, Michael Holody, Nick LaBrocca, Ciaran O’Brien, Jacob Peterson, Ross Schunk, Steward Ceus and Rob Valentino. Did I miss somebody? If so, let me know. If not, this award boils down to Best Player Among These Eight Guys. Not the most inspiring category. Dalby played nearly a dozen games. Holody played less than half of that total. The only real choices here were Nick or Jake, and Jake missed the end of the year with a knee injury. But that injury showed just how important Peterson is to the Rapids. With Jamie Smith and Colin Clark out with injuries, the team was prepared to rely on Peterson out wide. Unfortunately, his knee had other ideas. LaBrocca is a mainstay in the starting lineup and seems soccer-wise for his years; the spirit of this award didn’t seem to fit. So I voted for Peterson because of the potential that is implied in this type of award. Hopefully we’ll see LaBrocca and Peterson on the field together for years to come. I would’ve liked to have been voting for newcomer of the year, where there’d be a real discussion between Scott Palguta or Julien Baudet. If we were choosing rookie of the year, Holody played a little but shows real promise. But that’s not what we had here.

DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: Had Ugo Ihemelu finished the season in Colorado, he probably would’ve been my choice. However, his baffling midseason trade makes that point moot. Is it just me or does anybody think there’s some connection to the Rapids going 1-3-4 after the Ihemelu trade? Anyway, let’s focus on who is still here. Jordan Harvey and Kosuke Kimura were tremendous in a season in which Harvey was a mainstay and Kimura moved in and out of the lineup and up to midfield and back to right back. The ability of these two players to move forward offensively was a godsend to a team that lost a lot of skill on the wings because of injuries. The goalkeepers? Burpo and Pickens split time throughout the season, and each played a valuable role. But those roles were limited. Then we have Baudet, who arrived midway through the year and made a big impact. He’s a leader. He’s smooth. He’s skilled. I look forward to watching him with the team for an entire season. But I voted for Scott Palguta. The big guy played with the Rochester Rhinos (under Rapids assistant Steve Guppy) from 2005 to 2008 and signed with Colorado in March. He committed 11 fouls in 23 games, including 19 starts, and only seven Rapids played more minutes than he did. He was a steady force in the middle in his first season in Major League Soccer. I had a real difficult time choosing between Harvey and Palguta.

MVP: Conor Casey. I laid out the reasons here, and some readers sounded off on why they would’ve chosen Cummings. Each player was deserving, and I have no problem with the choice of Cummings.

Pickens also was the Centennial Firm’s defensive player of the year, and Cummings was the Class VI player of the year.

I thought it was interesting that I was on the money for nearly all of my picks in the MLS Best XI balloting. But when it came to the Rapids, the team I saw play more than any other in 2009, none of my votes matched the eventual winners.

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  • Pdid10 said:

    Interesting thought about Ugo. I also thought he was solid all season and the trade destabilized the back line too much.

  • Get off the plane, it's mine said:

    i’ve always considered your awards the superior choices anyway.

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