Three quick thoughts on this year’s honor, which went to the Colorado Rapids’ midfielder Monday:
Are we getting smarter about this stuff?
A good holding midfielder can stitch his team together in ways many fans and supporters cannot see without the most careful study. Casual observers might see a guy who doesn’t contribute enough to the attack, or does not manhandle enough opposition attackers for their liking. But there is a handsome value on the holding mid who can shape a contest through defensive positioning, by covering ground, by using skill and space wisely in linking possession front to back, etc.
It’s not always glamorous work. But show me a solid team, I can probably show you a steady-eddy holding midfielder.
So we come to Dillon Powers, the first-year Colorado Rapid who was today named MLS Rookie of the Year.
It would have been so easy for voters to choose teammate Deshorn Brown, whose stats made a screaming account. His 10-goals equaled an MLS rookie record – and if there is one thing we American sports fans love, it’s a “scoring record” of any shape or form.
We’ve seen central mids picked as RoY, Maurice Edu most recently, although that was back in 2007. But this one seems different because there was an attractive choice among attackers (Brown).
Young American playing centrally? Impressive
U.S. born-and-bred central midfielders have hardly been non-existent. Claudio Reyna, Tab Ramos, John O’Brien, John Harkes, Chris Armas, Kerry Zavagnin, Ben Olsen … well, the list could go on. They all made contributions from the center of the field.
But if we’re honest, the list of stately U.S. center backs, forwards and, of course, goalkeepers is probably longer. Bottom line, it’s tough for a U.S. man, especially a younger one, to make his mark as a central midfielder, where technical work and a savvy first touch is of highest value.
So, a bonus congrats to young Powers. Well done, young man.
The award was always bound for Colorado
But then, we were saying that three months ago.
What would have been really interesting: had Rapids’ left back Chris Klute, goalkeeper Clint Irwin or center back Shane O’Neill been eligible. All were practically rookies, although not technically so, having signed low-level pro deals before 2013.
Now that would have created a selection pool of RoY candidates from one team the likes none of us have ever seen.