REAL SALT LAKE ANNOUNCES 2010 TEAM AWARD RECIPIENTS
MF Javier Morales Claims Most Valuable Player Honor;
DF Nat Borchers Named Defender of the Year;
MF Jean Alexandre Earns Club’s Humanitarian Award;
FW Álvaro Saborío Garners Golden Boot Award as Team’s Top Scorer
SANDY, Utah (Friday, November 12, 2010) – Real Salt Lake today unveiled the team’s annual season-ending award winners in three categories, which were based on voting by RSL players and team’s Technical Staff. Midfielder Javier Morales took home the team’s Most Valuable Player for a second time during his tenure with RSL, Nat Borchers was also a repeat performer after earning his second Defensive Player of the Year nod in three seasons, and second-year midfielder Jean Alexandre received the squad’s annual Humanitarian of the Year honor. In addition, forward Álvaro Saborío, who was Wednesday named MLS 2010 Newcomer of the Year, claimed RSL’s Golden Boot Award at the end of the regular season as the club’s top scorer during League play.
MF Javier Morales: RSL Most Valuable Player
The Claret-and-Cobalt’s midfield maestro had another brilliant season pulling the attacking strings for the League’s highest-scoring offense, Morales’ steady campaign causing some pundits to sing his praises as a legitimate contender for the MLS MVP honor. The Argentine tallied seven times and provided a team-leading nine assists, but, while his stats were impressive, it was his ability to control the midfield, navigate through defenders with flair, and make the unlocking pass that came to the forefront every time he stepped onto the field.
“This is a wonderful honor because we have a great team with really, really good players, so I am very thankful to my teammates for voting for me,” said Morales, who also earned the RSL MVP award during his first full season with the squad in 2008. “This season was really important for the players, for the club, for everyone. We had a very good season and played some excellent soccer, but that is all over now. I’m already looking to focus on next year, to keep our team going and to try and make it even better.”
After a 2009 campaign in which he was often left bruised and battered by the opposition – including in the team’s 2009 MLS Cup triumph – Morales saw his production jump in 2010, his bright start to the season leading to a spot on the 2010 MLS All-Star Team’s First XI squad and a subsequent showcase performance against legendary English Premiership side Manchester United. Morales’ bounce-back season began immediately at San Jose in the season opener, the midfielder notching a brace on a pair of highlight-reel goals from distance that led the Utah side to a dominating 3-0 result. That performance led to the first of Morales’ two MLS Player of the Week nods this season, another brace in a high-profile 2-0 victory against Columbus on August 14 helping him to earn the Week 20 award as well.
DF Nat Borchers: RSL Defensive Player of the Year
The commander of the Real Salt Lake backfield, Borchers saw his leadership role on the field expand in 2010, as the Colorado native took on the role of Captain for two months following an injury to Kyle Beckerman in May. The “Ironman” of the squad, Borchers was the only RSL player to start all 30 regular season contests and saw 2,673 minutes of action, also tops on the team and ranking as the fifth most across MLS in 2010. The 29-year-old was a key cog in a defensive unit that was statistically the best in MLS history, as RSL shattered the MLS goals allowed record by letting in only 20 goals in 30 regular season contests, set another League record by allowing just seven goals at home, and posted the second most shutouts by a team in a single season with 15 clean sheets.
“I’m very humbled by this award. As a unit we were very good defensively all year long, and we wouldn’t be as good defensively if everybody on the field didn’t buy into that mentality,” said Borchers. “To be fair, my job is made easier by my teammates. I say that quite honestly because I look in front of me, beside me, and behind me and see an incredibly talented group of players that make my job look very easy.”
Borchers – who also garnered RSL Defender of the Year honors in 2008 – also provided a flair for the dramatic on the offensive end, as his first goal of the year – and first score in MLS play in 41 games – in the final minutes of stoppage time on Sept. 25 against archrival Colorado saved Real Salt Lake’s MLS-record home undefeated streak, which now stands at 25 games. Apparently his taste for scoring wasn’t satisfied, as he duplicated his backward header from the Rocky Mountain Cup affair a week later at New England, kicking off RSL’s scoring in an eventual 2-1 road win against the Revs.
Receiving the RSL Defender of the Year was not the only good bit of news in recent days for the center-back, as Borchers was yesterday named to the U.S. Men’s National Team roster that will travel to South Africa for next Wednesday’s Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town. Borchers is in line to make his first appearance for the United States since 2005, when he made both of his previous “caps” for then-head coach Bruce Arena.
MF Jean Alexandre: RSL Humanitarian of the Year
As a native Haitian in Major League Soccer, Alexandre was in a unique position to serve in a humanitarian role after a devastating earthquake rocked his birthplace’s capital of Port-au-Prince in January. The midfielder sprang into action, raising awareness locally in Utah for the millions of lives shattered by the event in the Caribbean by taking part in charitable drives for clothing and soccer equipment. Those items were then sent to his birthplace of Verrettes, Haiti, the donations going directly to the families of children attending the Jean Alexandre Football Academy, a program he established with his father back in 2007 that helps teach teenaged youth in his hometown valuable skills both on and off the field. Alexandre also lent his voice to the ongoing “Shoes for Haiti” donation drive being sponsored by RSL and KUTV2, in addition to serving as RSL’s co-spokesperson for MLS W.O.R.K.S.’ “Nothing But Nets” anti-malaria campaign.
“It’s a great honor and a blessing to receive this award,” said Alexandre, who also leaves Utah today to join his Haitian National Team mates for their international friendly next Wednesday in Qatar. “I want to thank my teammates for voting for me, but most importantly I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity that he’s provided me, and only through that opportunity am I fortunate enough to be able to help others.”
FW Álvaro Saborio: RSL Golden Boot
Saborío stormed onto the MLS scene in 2010, immediately commanding the attention of the opposition with his classic target-man skills and the ability to put the ball into the back of the net in a variety of ways. The Costa Rican international would lead the squad with 12 goals in League play – five better than second-place Morales – the first of which helped the Claret-and-Cobalt to a dramatic 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC in the squad’s home opener on April 10. After continuing to pour in the goals at Rio Tinto Stadium – his first nine League tallies all came in Sandy – Saborío would take his goal-scoring show on the road late in the year, as he notched a late game-winner in a 2-1 win at New England on Oct. 2 before single-handedly allowing RSL to keep the Rocky Mountain Cup with a stoppage-time brace that forced a 2-2 draw at Colorado in the season finale on Oct. 23.
Saborío’s 12 goals in League play placed him 8th on the MLS Golden Boot chart in 2010 and were tied for the second most in a single season by an RSL player, equaling Robbie Findley’s goal haul from 2009 and ranking behind only Jeff Cunningham’s MLS Golden Boot-winning 16-goal campaign back in 2006. In addition, Saborío’s veteran presence in CONCACAF Champions League play paid off handsomely for the Utahans, as his six goals in five contests paced the squad during the competition and were tied for the second most in the 2010 portion of the regional club championship.
Real Salt Lake All-time Team Award Winners
RSL Most Valuable Player: Javier Morales (2010), Nat Borchers (2009), Javier Morales (2008), Nick Rimando (2007), Jeff Cunningham (2006), Andy Williams (2005)
RSL Golden Boot Award: 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 (2010), Jamison Olave (2009), Nat Borchers (2008), Eddie Pope (2007), Carey Talley (2006), Pope (2005)
RSL Humanitarian of the Year: Jean Alexandre (2010), Robbie Russell (2009), Nat Borchers (2008), Carey Talley (2007), Seth Trembly (2006), Brian Kamler (2005)