I took some personal time this morning, and while I was away, a few things happened.
One, Chivas USA keeper Zach Thornton won Goalkeeper of the Year. He was an All-Star, though he got hurt in the second half of the All-Star Game in Sandy, Utah. Thornton beat out finalist Kasey Keller for the honor.
There were a couple of other awards announced today by the league.
NEW YORK (Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009) – Major League Soccer announced today that Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton was voted the 2009 Goalkeeper of the Year. New England Revolution midfielder Steve Ralston was named the winner of the individual MLS Fair Play award, and the Chicago Fire earned the MLS Team Fair Play award as the MLS club with the fewest disciplinary points during the 2009 regular season.
The Goalkeeper of the Year and the Individual Fair Play award winners earned the most votes in polling of MLS players, general managers, coaches, referees and members of the media.
Thornton, 36, had arguably his best season in his 13-year MLS career. He led Chivas USA to a 13-11-6 record and posted a career best 12 shutouts and 0.87 goals against average. His 12 shutouts were one shy of the club record and his goals against average ranks second all-time behind Pat Onstad’s 0.82 in 2007. Thornton led the League in goals against average, shutouts and ranked second in wins with 12.
Thornton took over the starting role for Preki’s club this season, after being acquired in 2008 and playing in eight regular season games last season. The 2009 season was his first full season as a starter since 2006, when he was a member of the Chicago Fire. He started 27 of the team’s 30 games during the regular season and led Chivas to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
This marks the second Goalkeeper of the Year honor for Thornton. He joins Onstad and Joe Cannon as the only players to win the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award twice. He received the honor in 1998, after being selected by the Chicago Fire in the expansion draft, Thornton led the first-year club to an MLS Cup championship. He finished the 1998 season with 16 wins and a 1.17 goals against average.
Thornton ranks second all-time in shutouts (70) and wins (125), behind only Kevin Hartman in both categories. He played collegiately at Loyola College in Maryland and was drafted by the MetroStars in the 7th round of the 1996 MLS Inaugural Player Draft. He played two seasons with the club as a reserve behind Tony Meola before spending the bulk of nine seasons with the Fire. In 2004 he spent six months on loan with Benfica in Portugal. Thornton played with the Colorado Rapids in 2007 and New York Red Bulls in 2008. During the 2008 season, he was traded to Chivas USA, where he played seven games before earning the starting role to begin the 2009 campaign.
Thornton led the voting ahead of Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller and Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, the other finalists named earlier this week.
Ralston is claiming his third MLS Fair Play Award. The 35 year-old, MLS Original and New England Revolution midfielder from St. Louis, Mo., becomes the first three-time recipient of the award. Michael Parkhurst, Ralston’s former Revolution teammate, won the award in 2007 and 2008.
Ralston started 17 games for the Revolution this year and recorded seven goals and seven assists. In 1,543 minutes of play, Ralston committed only four fouls and received two cautions. The all-time leader in games played (378) and assists (135) Ralston helped the Revolution to an 11-10-9 record and the club’s eighth consecutive playoff appearance. Before joining the Revolution, Ralston spent six seasons with the Tampa Bay Mutiny, earning the Rookie of the Year award in 1996.
The Chicago Fire claimed the Team Fair Play award for accumulating the fewest disciplinary points (259.5) of any team during the 2009 regular season. Disciplinary points are assigned as follow: 4 points for each caution received, 10 points for each red card, 0.50 points for each foul committed and a reduction of 15 points for each game that a team completes without receiving any cards or action from the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Winners:
2009: Zach Thornton – Chivas USA
2008: Jon Busch – Chicago Fire
2007: Brad Guzan – Chivas USA
2006: Troy Perkins – D.C. United
2005: Pat Onstad – San Jose Earthquakes
2004: Joe Cannon – Colorado Rapids
2003: Pat Onstad – San Jose Earthquakes
2002: Joe Cannon – San Jose Earthquakes
2001: Tim Howard – MetroStars
2000: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
1999: Kevin Hartman – Los Angeles Galaxy
1998: Zach Thornton – Chicago Fire
1997: Brad Friedel – Columbus Crew
1996: Mark Dodd – Dallas Burn
MLS Fair Play Award – Individual Winners:
2009: Steve Ralston – New England Revolution
2008: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2007: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2006: Chris Klein – Real Salt Lake
2005: Ronald Cerritos – San Jose Earthquakes
2004: Eddie Pope – MetroStars
2003: Brian McBride – Columbus Crew
2002: Mark Chung – Colorado Rapids
2001: Alex Pineda Chacon – Miami Fusion
2000: Steve Ralston – Tampa Bay Mutiny
1999: Steve Ralston – Tampa Bay Mutiny
1998: Thomas Dooley – Columbus Crew
1997: Mark Chung – Kansas City Wizards
MLS Fair Play Award -Team Winners:
2009: Chicago Fire
2008: New England Revolution
2007: Columbus Crew
2006: Kansas City Wizards
2005: Kansas City Wizards
2004: Columbus Crew
2003: New England Revolution
2002: Kansas City Wizards
2001: San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Tampa Bay Mutiny
1999: Columbus Crew
1998: Kansas City Wizards
1997: Columbus Crew