Three soccer brains are clearly better than one. So Richard Farley, Noah Davis and I huddled virtually to sort out our ProSoccerTalk picks for Major League Soccer awards.
(MORE: Our Coach of the Year conversation and choice)
Steve Davis: I plan to have a quick gavel on this one. Because anybody who can’t see that Chicago Fire’s Austin Berry is the obvious choice loses his automatic entry into the next ProSoccerTalk skeeball tournament; you’ll have to go through qualifying rounds.
Just kidding, guys. You are free to tell I’m off my meds on this one:
I do like Berry, although the Fire’s late-season semi-collapse makes me feel less wonderful about it.
Richard Farley: I don’t want to take anything away from Berry or FC Dallas’ Matt Hedges (or whomever comes up in this conversation), but this award has seen better years, right?
Steve Davis: Probably. Or are we all just being “attacker” snobs? These things just seem more exciting when the young swashbucklers are scoring goals and not being all stingy and preventing them. I dunno, maybe I’m just being too soft here. The weather has me worried about Noah up in New York.
Noah Davis: Neither of them really have any of that wow factor, do they? Vancouver’s Darren Mattocks certainly does, but not the consistency you need to win this award. It’s too bad New York’s Ryan Meara got hurt; he was a lot of fun.
Steve Davis: Right? Curse you, Ryan Meara! If you had kept the injury bug away, we could all be at Happy Hour by now. Obvious choice. But here we are, still getting this one sorted out. I hope you’re happy with yourself, young man!
Richard Farley: Yeah. And he would have added some variety to the debate. Now I feel like D.C. United’s Nick DeLeon is the man we have to leverage to break up the two center backs. Feels like reaching.
Steve Davis: DeLeon? Fast start, fast finish, but fairly soft in the middle.
Richard Farley: The attack snob point is a good (if sharp and painful) one. There’s also an element of like-for-like here that makes this a bit dull. Though Berry and Hedges have both been good, I don’t see much to recommend the UNC man over the Louisville alum. Since they’re at the same position, the comparison is pretty straight-forward. There isn’t much grey area beyond your interpretation of their play. We’re not comparing a goal scorer to a goal stopper, trying to measure how much of one makes up for the other.
Steve Davis: Hedges is a talent, but he makes a fair amount of positional mistakes. He probably wasn’t quite ready — not that it was his fault that both Dallas CBs spent much of the year injured. In all honesty, if Hedges had Arne Friedrich sitting next to him to provide tutelage and direction, this conversation might be a lot different.
Noah Davis: I have DeLeon really far ahead in the Rookie of the Year hair comp.
Richard Farley: Now I’m worried about Noah, too.
Steve Davis: You guys with pretty hair … you’re so damn smug! I’m punching my chad for Austin Berry. You boys?
Noah Davis: I’ll be different and take DeLeon, but it’s an intentionally hanging chad.
Richard Farley: With a better explanation than I could have given myself, that’s why Berry’s at the top (or, as it’s laid out, far left) of my ballot.
Steve Davis: It has nothing to do with the neat-o Austin Berry cereal box gambit cooked up by the Fire’s PR staff, but it looks like Berry gets the goods.
Our pick: Chicago Fire center back Austin Berry