REAL SALT LAKE ANNOUNCES 2011 SEASON-ENDING AWARD WINNERS
Captain Kyle Beckerman Claims RSL’s Most Valuable Player Honor for First Time;
DF Nat Borchers Collects Third Defensive Player of the Year Accolade;
MF Jean Alexandre and FW Álvaro Saborío Repeat as Winners of Humanitarian of the Year, Golden Boot Awards, Respectively
SANDY, Utah (Tuesday, November 8, 2011) – Real Salt Lake today announced the team’s annual season-ending award winners, which were based on voting by RSL players and members of the club’s Technical Staff. Captain Kyle Beckerman collected the club’s Most Valuable Player award for the first time during his tenure with the Claret-and-Cobalt, while Nat Borchers (Defensive Player of the Year), Jean Alexandre (Humanitarian of the Year) and Álvaro Saborío (Golden Boot Award) all defended the awards they received last season in their respective categories.
MF Kyle Beckerman: RSL Most Valuable Player
Beckerman has been the heart-and-soul of Real Salt Lake since joining the squad midway through a tough 2007 campaign and assuming the team’s captaincy at the beginning of the following campaign, however, this marks the first club MVP honor for the 29-year-old defensive midfielder. The Crofton, Maryland native ended RSL’s hectic campaign atop the squad with nine assists in 29 regular season games, while also placing third across the team during league play in goals (3), minutes played (2,423) and starts (27). In addition, Beckerman played an integral role in helping Real Salt Lake become the first team in MLS history to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League Finals, with an unfortunate suspension for the second leg due to caution accumulation seriously handcuffing RSL’s historic title bid.
Beckerman’s attack-killing abilities were on full display in 2011, as the 12-year MLS veteran stalked opposing playmakers with a vengeance, allowing RSL’s patented diamond midfield to focus on turning the play upfield as soon as the ball was turned over – usually thanks to Beckerman’s doing. His ball-hawking skills and linking between the back line and attacking options not only earned him Most Valuable Player talk at the league level as the season wound down, but were also noticed by new U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has made Beckerman a focal point of his first XI since taking over the reins of the senior team in July. Beckerman will look to build upon the four “caps” accrued under Klinsmann’s watch across the next week when the USA takes on France and Slovenia in European-based friendlies.
While Beckerman continued to do the dirty work that is so often underappreciated, it was his production on the offensive end that turned many heads in 2011. With the prolonged absence of midfield creator Javier Morales for much of the season, Beckerman put some of those creative duties on his shoulders, resulting in a new career-high of nine assists in regular season play that shattered his previous single-season best of five helpers in 2005 (with Colorado). But more than just the numbers, it was Beckerman’s willingness to lead by example and carry the team through some rough patches that ultimately allowed RSL to finish third in the league in points and equal the squad’s single-season win total of 15. Beckerman becomes the sixth different player in RSL history to win the club’s MVP honor, with only Morales earning the accolade twice (2008 & 2010).
DF Nat Borchers: RSL Defensive Player of the Year
Once again, Borchers proved to be the “Ironman” of the Claret-and-Cobalt in 2011, as the commander of the Real Salt Lake backfield led the squad’s field players in minutes played (2,547) and starts (30) during the regular season, and finished second only to Andy Williams with 31 league appearances. A season after helping Real Salt Lake to the best defensive campaign in MLS history, the 30-year-old Borchers did his part to make sure there was little drop-off when protecting the team’s goal, helping RSL to a 1.06 goals against average that was tied for the second-lowest in the league in 2011.
The Pueblo, Colorado native was also monumental in helping Real Salt Lake advance through the CONCACAF Champions League, playing in five of the squad’s six Knockout Phase contests between February and April, including both legs of the epic Finals series against Monterrey. This year’s honor marks the first time an RSL player has won the Defensive Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons, while his third such nod breaks the tie in the category he previously shared with the legendary Eddie Pope (2005 & 2007).
MF Jean Alexandre: RSL Humanitarian of the Year
Following on the heels of his first RSL Humanitarian of the Year award in 2010, Alexandre again garnered the accolade in 2011 for his continued efforts in communities near and far. In addition to serving as an ambassador on behalf of the Claret-and-Cobalt at local soccer clinics and community appearances, the Haitian international and South Florida native once again was designated as RSL’s spokesperson for MLS W.O.R.K.S.’ “Nothing But Nets” anti-malaria campaign. The third-year pro also stepped up his efforts to collect donations on behalf of the Jean Alexandre Football Academy, a program he established with his father back in 2007 that helps teach under-privileged youth in his hometown of Verrettes, Haiti valuable skills both on and off the playing field.
FW Álvaro Saborio: RSL Golden Boot
After a restructuring of his deal with Real Salt Lake in the offseason resulted in Saborío being named the first Designated Player in club history, the talented target forward entered 2011 hungry to prove his goal total of 12 the year before was no fluke. However, 2011 didn’t exactly pick up where 2010 left off, as off-season knee surgery slowed him out of the gates. While a pair of goals in six CONCACAF Champions League contests in the spring helped RSL to the cusp of lifting the CCL trophy, the Costa Rican international departed Utah in late May to represent the “Ticos” in the CONCACAF Gold Cup without netting a single goal for his side in league play up to that point. Struggles in that tournament throughout June would cause some to wonder if “Sabo” was a one-hit wonder, but his return to Real Salt Lake for its home clash against Toronto FC on June 25 would show otherwise, his two-goal effort in a 3-1 win over the “Reds” serving as his coming out party in 2011.
Saborío would go on to record his second brace of the campaign on July 23 against San Jose to spearhead a 4-0 rout and cap off a run of five goals in four appearances for the Claret-and-Cobalt. The race for the squad’s Golden Boot award was the closest in team history and would go down right to the wire, as strike-partner Fabian Espíndola and Saborío were tied at 10 goals apiece heading into the season finale against the Portland Timbers. It was Saborío’s goal against the expansion Timbers that would help RSL garner a 1-1 draw and push him into the team’s scoring lead all alone, his 11 tallies also placing him tied for ninth in scoring across all of Major League Soccer.
After his last goal in the regular season helped RSL to the #3 seed in the Western Conference, Saborío would continue his run of form into the MLS Cup Playoffs, as he was able to record yet another brace in the opening leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against Seattle Sounders FC, including a marvelous back-heel goal that allowed the Utahns to open up a crucial two-goal advantage in the aggregate goals series. Saborío found the back of the net one last time in Sunday night’s Western Conference Championship at the LA Galaxy, his re-direct header from the top of the six allowing the Claret-and-Cobalt to immediately answer the home side’s opening tally in an eventual 1-3 defeat.
Across all competitions, the San Carlos, Costa Rica native bagged 16 goals in 32 games during another standout campaign in 2011. After his slow start, Saborío finished the season by becoming the first player in RSL history to win back-to-back Golden Boots awards and is only the second player to collect multiple scoring titles for the Utah side, alongside Robbie Findley (2007 & 2009).
Real Salt Lake Career Season-Ending Award Receipients
RSL Most Valuable Player: Kyle Beckerman (2011) , Javier Morales (2010), Nat Borchers (2009), Javier Morales (2008), Nick Rimando (2007), Jeff Cunningham (2006), Andy Williams (2005)
RSL Golden Boot Award: Álvaro Saborío (2011), Álvaro Saborío (2010), Robbie Findley (2009), Yura Movsisyan (2008), Robbie Findley (2007), Jeff Cunningham (2006), Jason Kreis (2005)
RSL Defender of the Year: Nat Borchers (2011), Nat Borchers (2010), Jamison Olave (2009), Nat Borchers (2008), Eddie Pope (2007), Carey Talley (2006), Eddie Pope (2005)
RSL Humanitarian of the Year: Jean Alexandre (2011), Jean Alexandre (2010), Robbie Russell (2009), Nat Borchers (2008), Carey Talley (2007), Seth Trembly (2006), Brian Kamler (2005)