- Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen
Rationale, motive and intent: Frequently in 2012, Nielsen took shutout credit when, in all honesty, he didn’t need to be very big in Sporting Kansas City goal. Well, he certainly did on this night at Red Bull Arena, where no player on the field was more responsible than Nielsen for keeping the goal-count to zero.
- D.C. United’s Andy Najar (pictured)
- Montreal’s Matteo Ferrari
- L.A. Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez
- Portland’s David Horst
Rationale, motive and intent: At one point on the D.C. United broadcast, John Harkes asked if Andy Najar is now the league’s best right back? Defensively, the answer is probably “no.” But on the attack, you can make a case the answer is a resounding “yes.” It’s been a bold stroke from Ben Olsen that has certainly paid off.
- Seattle’s Brad Evans
- Portland’s Jack Jewsbury
- Houston’s Brad Davis
- D.C. United’s Chris Pontius
Rationale, motive and intent: Brad Evans was a midfield force and a forceful finisher (two goals, including one from the penalty spot) as the Sounders pulled away from L.A. to more or less settle playoff positioning in the West. Sometimes with guys around like Mauro Rosales and Osvaldo Alonso, it’s hard for someone like Evans, whose forte is tactical acumen, astute cover, positioning and similar, lesser tangible qualities, to gain the proper recognition. He sure did Sunday.
Marcelo Saragosa should get some major credit for D.C. United’s playoff-clinching win, but it’s impossible to overstate what Pontius’ determined work over 90 minutes did for the cause.
- New England’s Diego Fagundez
- Seattle’s Fredy Montero
Rationale, motive and intent: Fagundez hit a great goal as his team closed out its home season on a high note. In a game stamped “future evaluation” for all individuals around Gillette Stadium, the kid (He’s just 17!) did well for himself. Montero had two assists and always looked up for the job in a 3-1 win over Dallas.