So it seems like a lot of various soccer related blogs and news sites are creating a sort of "mid season" award piece which highlights the best of what MLS has to offer. Unfortunately, the Portland Timbers haven't graced many lists. I guess being near the bottom of the standings will do that. But that doesn't mean we should be left out of the mid-season awards fun altogether! As such, I decided to create my own, purely for the Portland Timbers.
Keep in mind, these are entirely of my own opinion and they really just serve as recognition based on what I've seen said players contribute. You could have an entirely different opinion which is probably just as legitimate as my own. In which case, I do hope you'll add it to the comments below!
For the purposes of this article, I've divided the awards into a number of categories each with a winner and runner up:
- Best Forward
- Best Midfielder
- Best Defender
- Best Goalkeeper
- Best Substitution
Continue passed the break for the "awards."Best Forward
Winner: Jorge Perlaza
I suppose this was probably one of the easier decisions to make. Jorge Perlaza got off to a rocky start with the team, but has since made his presence increasingly felt since April. In yesterday's game against the Seattle Sounders he was actively involved in both goals, his second being a marvelously cheeky goal with a small assist by a deflection. Currently tied with cap'n Jack Jewbury for number of goals scored, I'd definitely say he deserves the honors.
Runner up: Kenny Cooper
Yes, Kenny Cooper is in a rough patch, but the stats don't lie. While Jorge Perlaza and Jack Jewsbury have the most total goals, Cooper is currently the leader in shots and shots on goal. Regardless of his actual goal tally, it's hard to argue that Cooper isn't putting out the effort.
Winner: Jack Jewsbury
No big surprise here. Cap'n Jack Jewsbury has been instrumental in leading the offense this season. In fact, he's already made a couple of "mid season" awards and was included in the MLS All Star starting 11. I shudder to think what the team would look like today without him in the middle of the field. I don't know what the future holds for the Timbers, but wherever it is, I certainly hope Jewsbury is there to see it with us. Jewsbury currently leads in goals and assists with 4 and 6 respectively.
Runner up: Kalif Alhassan
On some other teams, perhaps Alhassan would have been crowned the winner. The spunky Ghanaian is probably one of the wriggliest players I've ever seen on the field. I don't know how he does it, but it's not entirely uncommon to see him break through 3-4 defenders on a single run. Combine this with his 5 total assists and we've got one damn good, young midfielder. I can't wait to see him in the year's to come.
Winner: Mamadou "Futty" Danso
To say the Timbers defense has been shaky thus far this season would be pretty polite, but through it all, Futty has actually made a quite a few sharp saves after coming in for Kevin Goldthwaite a few games into the season. Top that off with the lone goal in a 1-1 draw in Seattle last May and it's almost hard not to give Futty the award. Granted his competition wasn't all that tough.
Runner Up: Rodney Wallace
It was a little challenging to find a runner up, but through it all Rodney Wallace has actually been pretty damn serviceable. Sure, he's had his highs and lows, but as far as consistency goes, he's done a pretty fair job on the left back which is more than we can say for the inconsistent right back. Combine that with two spectacular goals and I'd say Wallace deserves the honors.
Winner: Troy Perkins
Some might look at Perkins' goals allowed average (GAA) and believe that Perkins has been fairly poor this season. Not so. In fact, I'd say he's probably one of the better keepers in the league at the moment. The simple fact of the matter is that the backline needs more work than Perkins. Just from yesterday's match we saw some very impressive saves which lesser keepers probably would not have been able to keep out. I'd love to see what Perkins could do with a stable, solidified backline.
Runner up: Jake Gleeson
No surprise here! Gleeson stepped up for the team in a HUGE way when secondary keeper Adin Brown was injured. He then gave some damn good performances before returning as a reserve player when Troy Perkins returned from injury. While Gleeson still has some maturing and developing to do, I'd say this is a pretty easy award to gift him, even with only three candidates.
Winner: Sal Zizzo
Speed. It's a huge ability to have in the 70th minute when other players are beginning to wear down. Sal Zizzo is often a huge spark of life and energy into an otherwise fast tiring game. While he may not have any goals or assists just yet, you can see the immediate impact he has on defensive backlines every time he gets subbed in. I hope he can one day make the first team regularly, but, until then, I'm very happy to have him as a super sub.
Runner up: James Marcelin
Sometimes speed isn't what you need as a 70th minute sub. Sometimes, instead, you need to think a little more defensively, especially when you're trying to maintain a lead. That's where Marcelin comes in. As a starter in the early games I was left unimpressed not because of his lack of skill, but because, at that time, the Timbers needed that creative element where Marcelin was providing more defensive skill. Since then, as a sub, he's come on to lend that extra hand that the defensive backline desperately needs.
Most Valuable Player
Winner: Jack Jewsbury
Again, no surprise here. Anybody who thinks Jewsbury doesn't deserve the honors must not have been watching damn near every single game he's played in. His corner/free kicks are solid. His distribution is timely and, mostly, accurate. Since joining the team he's provided a clear voice of leadership and stability in the midfield. Anything can happen between now and season's end, but I'd say Jewsbury is a clear lead in winning the full season's honors as well.
Runner up: Kalif Alhassan/Jorge Perlaza
It was too difficult to pick between the two. On one hand, we've got our best striker and the other a very talented creative midfielder. I suppose they'll have to share the honors as the thought without either one in their positions is a little daunting at the moment. Perhaps by end of the season, one will make a play to be the clear runner up (or even MVP!).
So there you have it. My own personal mid-season awards. I don't have any trophies or anything to give out, but if any of the guys who won wants to I'd be more than happy to buy em a beer (or equally priced non-alcoholic beverage) should the be so inclined.
What do you think? What awards would you give out? Who do you think deserves special recognition?