NEW YORK — Major League Soccer announced the finalists for its 2011 year-end awards on Monday, with the group including RSL center backs Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers among the three finalists for the MLS Defender of the Year honor for a second consecutive year. In 2010 it was Olave garnering the honor for the first time, with Borchers finishing second and the LA Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez - who again rounds out the trio of finalists in the category - landing third in the balloting.
The winners will be announced over the next 10 days during the lead up to the MLS Cup final on Nov. 20, beginning with Rookie of the Year and the Xbox Fair Play Individual & Team of the Year on Tuesday and culminating on Nov. 18 with the Volkswagen MVP and Commissioner’s Award. The Defender of the Year award will be announced this Wednesday, Nov. 9, alongside the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year and Referee and Assistant Referee of the Year honors.
The three players vying for the Volkswagen MVP award include the regular-season assist leader (Brad Davis), the 2011 Golden Boot winner (Dwayne De Rosario), and one of the top attacking prospects in North America (Brek Shea).
Davis led MLS with 16 assists for a Dynamo squad in which no player scored more than five goals during the regular season.
De Rosario put together a career year in 2011 with 16 goals and 12 assists while splitting time between Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United.
Shea picked up the offensive slack for FC Dallas following a season-ending injury to 2010 MVP David Ferreira and solidified his place in Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team setup by leading FC Dallas with 11 goals to more than double his previous career high.
Coach of the Year will come down to the two managers who led their teams to the top regular-season records in MLS by a wide margin, LA's Bruce Arena and Seattle's Sigi Schmid, and Peter Vermes, who engineered a worst-to-first turnaround with Sporting Kansas City after starting the season with 10 games on the road.
Voters pulled nominees for Defender of the Year from two clubs, narrowing the field to the Real Salt Lake duo of Nat Borchers and Jámison Olave as well as LA Galaxy stalwart Omar Gonzalez. Borchers and Olave combined to lead RSL to the second-best defensive record in the league, and Gonzalez anchored MLS’ best defense as the Galaxy gave up just 28 goals in 34 games, eight fewer than any other team.
Rookie of the Year will be the award of the season announced, and it will go to one of three Eastern Conference freshmen. Philadelphia’s Michael Farfan scored two goals and dished out three assists in just 13 starts for Peter Nowak. Perry Kitchen made 30 starts for D.C. United while playing in multiple positions across on the back line and midfield, and Sporting's C.J. Sapong led all rookies in points with five goals and five assists and was the only Sporting player to appear in all 34 regular-season matches.
The finalists all of the year-end awards were determined by polls of MLS players, general managers, coaches, referees and members of the media.
Rookie of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 8
- Michael Farfan (Philadelphia Union)
- Perry Kitchen (D.C. United)
- C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City)
Xbox 360 Individual Fair Play Finalists* – Winner to be announced Nov. 8
- Darrius Barnes (New England Revolution)
- Kosuke Kimura (Colorado Rapids)
- Sébastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union)
*Selected by MLS based on objective criteria such as fouls committed, cards received, games and minutes played, as well as subjective evaluation of sportsmanlike behavior.
Xbox 360 Team Fair Play Finalists* – Winner to be announced Nov. 8
- Chivas USA
- Philadelphia Union
- Portland Timbers
*Selected by MLS based on objective criteria such as fewest fouls committed, cards received, and on subjective evaluation of sportsmanlike behavior.
Defender of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 9
- Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake)
- Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
- Jámison Olave (Real Salt Lake)
MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 9
- Zak Boggs (New England Revolution)
- Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo)
- Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Referee of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 9
- Mark Geiger
- Ricardo Salazar
- Kevin Stott
Assistant Referee of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 9
- Sean Hurd
- Corey Rockwell
- Adam Wienckowski
Coach of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 14
- Bruce Arena (LA Galaxy)
- Sigi Schmid (Seattle Sounders FC)
- Peter Vermes (Sporting Kansas City)
Comeback Player of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 14
- David Beckham (LA Galaxy)
- Charlie Davies (D.C. United)
- Dominic Oduro (Chicago Fire)
Goalkeeper of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 15
- Kevin Hartman (FC Dallas)
- Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders FC)
- Faryd Mondragón (Philadelphia Union)
Newcomer of the Year Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 15
- Eric Hassli (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
- Luke Rodgers (New York Red Bulls)
- Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders FC)
Volkswagen Most Valuable Player Finalists – Winner to be announced Nov. 18
- Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo)
- Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
- Brek Shea (FC Dallas)