MLS News and Awards Finalists Names ReleasedMany things are keeping MLS fans occupied in the playoffs: games, MLS news, and awards finalists
by Katherine Rupp | Wednesday, November 04, 2015
The regular season is done and dusted and with the playoffs in full swing, of course there needs to be more news. Some surprising, others very much not. Major League Soccer is still a young league (not even yet old enough to drink) but lively enough to make some noise at the party. That said, some MLS clubs are making even more of a ruckus than the league.
Even though with the New York Red Bulls taking the ‘New York Soccer Warz’ title this season and turning New York red, these days New York is blue because of the loss of Jason Kreis from the head coach position at New York City FC. With Kreis’ departure from the Bronx, there are most definitely a few head coaching positions that he could accept that could turn around programs. One such position that could be a tasty decision is in Bridgeview, Illinois with the Chicago Fire. With Frank Yallop out and since Brian Bliss was the interim head coach through the rest of the 2015 season, there is now an opening in Chicago. There are lots of solid individual parts that could be really great if they just had a connector like Kreis.
This year, as a rookie, Matt Polster impressed this year; Harry Shipp, a homegrown player, was a sparkplug in the middle of the field; and goalkeeper Sean Johnson, although he can be a little suspect on parts of his game, continues to come up big for the Fire. Additionally, although there hasn’t been as much speculation regarding the second team that could be helped with Kreis coming in, there is his former team Real Salt Lake. RSL finished 9th out of 10 teams in the Western conference, and though there doesn’t seem to be much grumbling from the fans or owners on current coach Jeff Cassar’s role, Kreis could be a catalyst to get RSL back to the success they are used to.
So as one can see, NYCFC is one of the biggest head turners at this end-of-the-season American soccer party but so is MLS. They league announced the 2015 Awards Finalists which includes awards such as the Landon Donovan MLS MVP, MLS Coach of the Year, and MLS Newcomer of the Year.
Although all three players are worthy of taking the MVP award home with them, it’s pretty clear who will be the victor. Benny Feilhaber and Kei Kamara, with fantastic play and unreal seasons this year, should be applauded for being announced a finalist but the Toronto FC’s own, the Atomic Ant, Sebastian Giovinco, takes the cake. His first season in MLS had the former Juventus forward winning the 2015 Audi MLS Golden Boot for the most goals (22), in addition to garnering 16 assists in the regular season. Subjectively, it was always a delight to watch the Italian because it looked like he was having fun on the pitch. Make sure to watch next season as he may be breaking records again in 2016.
Giovino’s name is also in the hat for MLS Newcomer of the Year. He’s in good company for this award as well as Mike Grella of the Supporters Shield-winning New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact’s Didier Drogba are also in the running. The winner of this award is harder to decipher with each player – Drogba, Giovinco, and Grella – making their own mark on their respective teams.
Beyond Grella, another Red Bull that is up for one of the main 2015 awards is Jesse Marsch for MLS Coach of the Year. Along with Marsch (who Red Bulls fans were a little wary of at the beginning of the season after Mike Petke was fired), Oscar Pareja of FC Dallas and Carl Robinson from the Vancouver Whitecaps are also finalists. This, similar to most of the other awards, is hard to figure out who will win. Although Robinson has done a fantastic job in the Pacific Northwest with his ‘Caps, this CotY award will more than likely go to Marsch or Pareja.
Regardless of what players or coaches win the end of the year awards for MLS in 2015, it was certainly one of the better seasons the league has had in its history. Although there were some contentious aspects like the aforementioned Kreis being fired, in addition to Yallop being let go by the Fire, as well as player injury and bad tackles or bust-ups, this season has a fantastic one to watch for soccer newbies or for long-lasting fans.