MLS postseason awards

Media voting for the Major League Soccer postseason awards has begun. Myself, Dan Rasmussen and Michael Black all get votes for the Deseret Morning News, but we’d like your input before we cast our ballots. The following are the awards we will vote on and in parentheses are RSL’s nominees, followed by a description of RSL’s nominees sent out by the team’s media relations department,

Which RSL players and coaches deserve to be in the hunt for the postseason awards, let us know?

2008 Major League Soccer Awards (RSL nominees in parentheses):

Best XI (similar to the NFL’s ‘All-Pro’ team, the MLS Best XI represents the top 11 players in the League in a lineup-based format ‘ RSL players warranting serious consideration are: DF Nat Borchers, DF Jamison Olave, MF Javier Morales and MF Kyle Beckerman)

Coach of the Year (RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis)
Since taking over the reins of RSL in May 2007, Kreis has completely turned over the roster he inherited, changing the mentality in the locker room and on the practice field, building a competitive core for the first time in Real Salt Lake’s brief history. A mix of dynamic young players and veteran leaders, including several Americans with European experience, Real Salt Lake is poised to attain its first-ever MLS Cup Playoff berth and reach team-highs in wins and points in a regular season, finishing +.500 for the first time ever with a win @ Colorado on Saturday.

Comeback Player (RSL MF Javier Morales)
A late addition for Real Salt Lake during the 2007 summer transfer window, midfielder Javier Morales began to show glimpses of his brilliance despite a shoulder injury that limited him to only seven appearances in his maiden MLS campaign. But Morales would return to full health and form for the 2008 season, and the Argentine magician delivered steadily throughout the year to lift Real Salt Lake to new heights in the club’s search for its first-ever postseason berth. The 28-year-old playmaker carried the scoring load for the Utah side, spending most of the season in second place across MLS in assists while also taking over the team’s single-season (15) and career (17) assist marks late in the campaign. Morales showed he could finish as well, as he entered the final game of the season in position to take the team’s Golden Boot award with six tallies.

Visa Defender of the Year (RSL DF Jamison Olave)
This imposing Colombian joined RSL late in preseason from perennial South American power Deportivo Cali, bringing a rare combination of linebacker-esque physique and sprinter’s speed and grace to the RSL back line. Olave has routinely dumped opposing forwards into the boards, often surprising foes with his closing speed. During his first 3 months in the lineup, RSL allowed an average of fewer than a goal per game, and his penchant for game-changing goals at home against Toronto and New York provides RSL a literally huge weapon on set pieces.

Fair Play Award (RSL DF Nat Borchers)
Real Salt Lake’s effort to bring American expatriates back to play stateside was embodied by defender Nat Borchers, who cut short his stint in Norway after just two seasons in February to serve as a focal point in the rebuilding of the Utah side’s roster.’ After developing a steady and cerebral style of play during his first three years as a professional with Colorado from 2003-05, Borchers showed that he still possessed those qualities upon his return to Major League Soccer in 2008, as the towering center back was one of a handful of field players to play every minute of the season while committing less than one foul per contest and only three cautions along the way.

Panasonic Goalkeeper of the Year (RSL GK Nick Rimando)

Volkswagen Most Valuable Player (RSL MF Javier Morales)
Morales is the straw that stirs the RSL drink, delivering regularly throughout the year to vault RSL to new heights in the club’s history, including first place in the Western Conference on June 18 and the search for its first-ever postseason berth. The 28-year-old playmaker’s combined 6 goals and 15 assists place him ahead of designated players David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, spending most of the season in second place across MLS in assists while also taking over the team’s single-season (15) and career (17) assist marks late in the campaign. Morales showed he could finish as well, as he entered the final game of the season in position to take the team’s Golden Boot award with six tallies.

Newcomer of the Year (RSL DF Jamison Olave)
This imposing Colombian joined RSL late in preseason from perennial South American power Deportivo Cali, bringing a rare combination of linebacker-esque physique and sprinter’s speed and grace to the RSL back line. Olave has routinely dumped opposing forwards into the boards, often surprising foes with his closing speed. During his first 3 months in the lineup, RSL allowed an average of fewer than a goal per game, and his penchant for game-changing goals at home against Toronto and New York provides RSL a literally huge weapon on set pieces.

Public Relations Award (Real Salt Lake)
Real Salt Lake has earned accolades league-wide for both the quantity and quality of the team’s print and electronic coverage in 2008, winning praise from media members for the access and innovation its affable staff provides area media members.

Gatorade Rookie of the Year (RSL DF Tony Beltran)
This Generation adidas addition to RSL was selected #3 overall out of UCLA in the January MLS SuperDraft, and appeared in 15 games, starting 10, during the first half of the season before being sidelined by a groin injury in August. Despite the setback, Beltran earned significant minutes based on his technical skill and intelligence and his ability to combine well and overlap in the attack with RSL right midfielders. Beltran will be a fixture for years to come.

Leave a comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.

*