Three soccer brains are clearly better than one. So Richard Farley, Noah Davis and I huddled up virtually to sort out our ProSoccerTalk picks for Major League Soccer awards.
We started with Coach of the Year:
Steve Davis: All right guys, the other day on a radio show I just kind of prattled something off the top of my head about D.C. United’s Ben Olsen being the obvious choice. But I find life without a backspace key brings out the stupid in me. Not that Olsen is a bad choice; first playoff berth for United since 2007? No Dwayne De Rosario at the end? And he’s the league’s youngest coach?
But I talked about it like there was no choice to be made. Which really is quite stupid. (It was too early; no more radio interviews without morning coffee for me!)
So, who wants to make the case for … can I get a Frank Yallop? …
Richard Farley: I’ll gladly do so, since I was the PST guy that fell in love with San Jose at the beginning of the season. If Frank’s still driving, I’m still riding.
For Coach of the Year, I look for what a guy did with the talent he had, but I want to be able to point to specific examples (just in case a Steve Davis of the world asked me to go on record). By this standard, Yallop’s got the best case.
At the beginning of the season, few were picking San Jose to make the playoffs. The West was tough, and their talent just didn’t look up to snuff. Early on, though, it was apparent that he had fused the parts together to create a greater sum. In a year in which they were supposed to be gone by November, San Jose cruised to the Supporters’
Shield, Yallop’s setup getting career years out of almost all of his regular starting XI. You could say all the stars aligned for him, but that’s a lot of stars and a very straight line. It’s far more plausible that Yallop’s done an incredible job.
If he needs more support, look at San Jose’s late match effectively.
Not only does that speak to the changes Yallop makes in-game (San Jose is regularly a completely different team come full time), but it also tells of the mentality he’s helped instill in the team.
Noah Davis: I’ll see your Yallop — the Goonies can’t win all the post-season awards — and raise you my midseason pick, Mr. Martin Rennie. Getting that Whitecaps team to the promised land of the playoffs, even if it is simply to lose to the Galaxy, ain’t no thang. That roster, being kind here, is not that good. Sure, Jay DeMerit is the best on-field leader in MLS but someone has to put the pieces on the field. While I didn’t love all the moves they made up in the Great White North, they made enough to eek into the post-season. Now it’s time for the real test.
Steve Davis: Hmmm. I think Noah has already run out of provisions in his NY bunker. Somebody rush the man over some Slim Jims and a mineral water. Stat!
Rennie helped erect that crane and wrecking ball they took to a team that was doing pretty well. They “rebuilt” the roster to within an inch of its life. I like the guy personally, but I just don’t think the final product in 2012 speaks well of him.
Richard Farley: Crane and wrecking ball? Is that an allusion to Merritt Paulson and John Spencer? Very clever, Mr. Davis.
Steve Davis: So, you are advocating John Spencer then? I kid, I kid! Anybody else we need to consider before moving on to Rookie of the Year?
Richard Farley: I’d be curious to hear your guys’ thoughts on Chicago’s Frank Klopas [pictured].
Steve Davis: Meh.
Noah Davis: I’m with Steve. Too late to throw my lot in with Yallop?
Steve Davis: Got you down, Noah. So I’m out-voted. Democracy rules. Thomas freakin’ Jefferson got nothing on us.
Our Pick: San Jose’s FRANK YALLOP