Year-End Award Predictions For The 2014 MLS Season

Lee Nguyen

With the 2014 MLS Season soon coming to an end, the finalists have been revealed for the 2014 season’s year-end Awards. Whether it’s the Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year or Best Coach, there are plenty of categories. Here are the nominees for the five most important categories, and our predictions for 2014’s award winners:

Most Valuable Player:

Lee Nguyen: This midfield star for the New England Revolution put up an 18-goal season in 2014 and did so from a non-offensive position, too. His influence in the middle of the park was so impressive that he earned a U.S. national team call up for it.

Obafemi Martins: The Nigerian striker seemed to struggle last year to connect with Clint Dempsey up top but boy did that change. Martins posted big numbers, scored crucial, game-winning goals, and one of his strikes is up for Goal of the Year, too.

Robbie Keane: The man who carried the LA Galaxy on his back, Robbie Keane continues to prove, despite his age, that he is as classy a striker as any in the world. Another 19 goals under his belt put the Galaxy in the playoff conference finals.

Notable Omission: Bradley Wright-Phillips: This New York Red Bulls striker netted 27 goals this season, matching the highest-ever score tally for a single season. Why he was omitted is a mystery.

Prediction: Lee Nguyen: He did it all for New England this season and, should they make it to the final, it will be because of his dominant year.

Rookie of the Year:

Tesho Akindele: This Canadian-born striker had an impressive start to the season, petered out near the middle and then picked it up again for FC Dallas. He scored seven goals this year, too.

Steve Birnbaum: D.C. United’s rock in the back line, Birnbaum helped shore up the back line of the worst team in 2013 and made them top of the East once more with 21 starts for the club.

Harry Shipp: Chicago Fire’s red-hot winger/forward, Harry Shipp posted early numbers, too, scoring seven goals in 33 appearances.

Notable Omission: Nick Hagglund: The Toronto FC central defender posted plenty of game time on the field and established himself as a long-term prospect and a short-term solution in the middle of defence.

Steve Birnbaum: Ultimately, the best rookies are the ones who don’t look like rookies and while Shipp and Akindele scored in bunches this season, it was Birnbaum who established himself as a key cog in D.C. United’s starting XI.

Defender of the Year:

Bobby Boswell: D.C. United went from worst to first in 2014 and a large factor in that was the defensive work of Bobby Boswell. He played and started all 34 games this season with the club, scored a goal, and commanded the back line for D.C.

Omar Gonzalez: While Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan spearheaded the attack for the LA Galaxy, it was Omar Gonzalez who shored things up behind them. The stud central defender remains the elite player in his position in MLS.

Chad Marshall: Helped the Seattle Sounders get into the playoff conference finals with his solid defensive efforts against FC Dallas, and gave the Sounders a reliable rock in the back on which to build and push forward.

Notable Omission: Matt Besler: This Sporting Kansas City defender was a key figure in the U.S. national team’s World Cup effort but ultimately burned out by seasons’ end.

Prediction: Bobby Boswell – We’re going with Boswell, who just inches out over Marshall because of his consistency in minutes played.

Goalkeeper of the Year:

Steve Clark: The Columbus Crew owes a debt of gratitude to Steve Clark, who saved them multiple times late on to give the team much needed three points. Clark is one of the most underrated goalkeepers in MLS.

Bill Hamid: Another D.C. United standout, Hamid did many things right, did very few things wrong, and kept D.C.’s back line stable when it needed him the most.

Nick Rimando: Real Salt Lake’s ageless ‘keeper continued to show his dominance in the league, and even went to the FIFA World Cup with the U.S. national team for it.

Notable Omission: Stefan Frei: The former Toronto FC goalkeeper had a huge turnaround year for the Seattle Sounders and established himself as a starting ‘keeper once more in MLS.

Steve Clark: He did so well for the Columbus Crew this season and while Hamid and Rimando are bigger names, Clark’s safe presence in the back line would make him a worthy winner of this category.

Coach of the Year:

Gregg Berhalter: The Columbus Crew was on a path to missing the playoffs, what with Toronto FC on the rise, but Berhalter pushed his players onward, and the late-season surge into the post season is a credit to his never-say-die style of coaching.

Ben Olsen: D.C. United was reborn under Ben Olsen. It took a while to get there, and there were some considerable speed bumps along the way, but in 2014, it all came together for Olsen.
Sigi Schmid: Seattle’s ever-present figurehead, Sigi Schmid remains a top candidate for the coaching award, and his ability to bring together all those pieces makes his 2014 season a success.

Notable Omission: Bruce Arena: It’s hard to top yourself when you’ve had as many successful years as Arena has, but the LA Galaxy had another strong year in MLS, sans David Beckham, and that has to do with the long-term system Arena created for his team.

Ben Olsen: He came, he saw, and eventually, he conquered. No coach has had as much an impact on its team as Olsen had on D.C. United.

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Armen Bedakian
Armen Bedakian is a soccer writer covering every aspect of the game in Major League Soccer and around the world. I love a crunching slide tackle, but can't stand a bad offside call. Follow me on Twitter - @ArmenBedakian