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November 1, 2013 at 9:28 AM

My MLS postseason awards

Photo credit: AP

Photo credit: AP

Ballots for MLS postseason awards are due today, so I figured it’s a good time to share my votes. Here is a reminder of when the specific awards will be announced (we’ve still got a few weeks).

Let’s get to it:

*     *     *

MVP — Mike Magee, Chicago

I’ll be honest, right up until my final dive into the stats, I thought I was going to vote for Galaxy star Robbie Keane, who I feel is the best player in the league. Keane had 16 goals and 11 assists (one of two players with double digits in each, along with Portland’s Diego Valeri) and L.A. had a 12-4-7 record when he played (a 0.96 jump in PPG compared to when he didn’t). Looking at Magee, who would have won the Golden Boot with 21 goals if Camilo didn’t have a last-day hat trick, he increased the Fire’s PPG by 1.05 when he played. Another factor was Magee played 32 games this season compared to Keane’s 23, and how much of the year you played is something I value more than others. Obviously Keane made the playoffs and Magee didn’t, but I feel Chicago certainly would have been in the field if Magee was there the whole season. The team’s 1.75 PPG with him in the lineup was better than New York’s overall, which won the Supporters’ Shield and had a 1.74 PPG. I feel you can’t go wrong with Magee or Keane. Crazy to think they were on the same team at the start of the year. (Runner-up: Keane)

Coach of the Year — Caleb Porter, Portland

This was another competitive race with a number of possibilities, but Porter was a clear choice for me. The team improved 23 points on last season to finish first in the West and earn the franchise’s first MLS playoff berth. The team also improved 43 goals in goal differential compared to last season, which is the biggest performance turnaround in league history. Other top candidates were Mike Petke, who led the Red Bulls to their first major trophy, and Oscar Pareja, who led a young Rapids team, which I didn’t think would do much, to the playoffs. (Runner-up: Petke)

Goalkeeper of the Year — Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake

Amazing to think this guy has never won the award in his 14 seasons in the league. For me, this is more of an eye-test thing than what the stats say. Portland’s Donovan Ricketts is better in most statistical categories and made a lot of tremendous saves, but a lot more goes into the position than numbers. I feel Rimando lifted his team the most this season, especially when people thought RSL would have a down year losing Will Johnson, Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola. I could be biased, though, since Rimando always saves his best for Seattle. (Runner-up: Ricketts)

Defender of the Year — Jose Goncalves, New England

To be fair, I didn’t watch much of the Revolution this season, therefore I didn’t see the 28-year-old Portuguese newcomer in action a whole lot. One thing you do notice is he played every single minute this season, which gives him a huge boost over guys like Matt Besler (23 starts), Omar Gonzalez (27 starts) and Olave (27 starts). This is also a center back’s award, fair or not, so it’s harder for a guy like Chris Klute, who had seven assists as the Rapids left back to garner a lot of votes. New England’s defense was tied for third in goals allowed and Goncalves was a workhorse in the back to help get them in the playoffs. (Runner-up: Klute)

Newcomer of the Year — Diego Valeri, Portland

I mentioned him earlier when it comes to guys with double-digit goals and assists, and he had 10 and 13, respectively. I believe there was a point in the season where he assisted on eight-straight Portland goals from July 13 to Aug. 21, which is ridiculous. He had four multi-assist games and his 13 overall led the league. A lot of things have gone right for the Timbers this season, and bringing him in is probably No. 2 on the list (after hiring Porter, see above). Goncalves and Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin were other good options, as well. (Runner-up: Goncalves)

Rookie of the Year — Dillon Powers, Colorado

The Rapids have a couple top candidates who will probably split votes, as forward Deshorn Brown had an amazing year, as well, with 10 goals and four assists. The numbers for Powers are solid, too, particularly for a central midfielder, at five goals and six assists. You could also tell how much he was missed in Wednesday’s Western Conference knockout round in Seattle. For a team that exceeded expectations probably more so than any other this year, for me, I feel Powers played a huge part in that. (Runner-up: DeAndre Yedlin, Sounders FC)

Comeback Player of the Year — Kevin Alston, New England

I’m not a big fan of this award in general. You see a lot of weird candidates, like Sounders FC’s Lamar Neagle, who simply came back from a ho-hum year in Montreal to have a standout year in Seattle. He wasn’t hurt or anything. Still, there are some guys who deserve recognition, and for me that’s most clearly Alston, who came back this season after being diagnosed with leukemia. Sure, he hasn’t ended up playing that much, but I feel he best captures the spirit of the award. (Runner-up: Conor Casey, Philadelphia)

Humanitarian of the Year — Jeb Brovsky, Montreal

There are no losers in this category, obviously. (Runner-up Michael Lahoud, Philadelphia)

Referee of the Year — Ismail Elfath; Assistant Referee of the Year — Kermit Quisenberry

Didn’t evaluate the finalists closely, but I don’t remember writing about him as much as Baldomero Toledo and Hilario Grajeda. Same goes for my top AR, and that’s a name I would’ve remembered.

MLS Best XI

Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
Jose Goncalves, New England
Omar Gonzalez, LA Galaxy
Chris Klute, Colorado
Tim Cahill, New York
Diego Valeri, Portland
Camilo, Vancouver
Mike Magee, Chicago
Diego Fagundez, New England
Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
Marco Di Vaio, Montreal

Obviously not a functional lineup, but this is always the hardest part of the ballot. I lean toward honoring the players I felt had the best seasons instead of forcing something.

*     *     *

So what do you think? Feel free to share some of your picks in the comments section.

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