PLAGUE RAT OF THE YEAR: (Given to the least welcome newcomer.) No, seriously, **** you, Luke Rodgers. HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR: Brian Mullan took ten games off this year to help raise awareness of the dangers of leg injuries - and made a $5,000 donation to the US Soccer Foundation, too. Well done, Brian -you're what MLS is all about.
COMEDOWN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: (Given to the player who has regressed the most.) Last year at this time, Dax McCarty was the captain of an MLS Cup finalist, basking in the respect of American soccer fans everywhere. Then, FC Dallas left him unprotected. He's on his third team since then, and way, WAY off the national team radar. He's got time to rebuild his career - he's only 24. Just like Hillary Duff.
ROACH COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD: If you compare the standings, you might be tempted to think that Hans Backe got a bad rap. The Red Bulls had 51 points last year, and 46 this year. That's only a dropoff of oh, yeah, they played four extra games this year.
Still, Frank Yallop took the Earthquakes from the 48 points and the semifinals to 36 points and seventh place. It's baffling that Yallop is escaping unscathed, while emails to firstname.lastname@example.org bounce back undelivered.
WORST XI: Frank Rost, New York Francisco Mendoza, Chivas USA George John, FC Dallas (once the Blackburn transfer fell through) Rafa Marquez, New York Tim Ream, New York Bobby Convey, San Jose Edmundo Zuna, San Jose (Edited because I forgot, and because apparently people think De Guzman is worth Toronto's money) Dax McCarty, New York Blaise Nkufo, Seattle Maicon Santos, Toronto/FC Dallas Thirty Goals Estupinan, Chivas USA (Edited for extreme and inadvertent insensitivity - sorry)
LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER: The LVP metaphorically graces the symbolic mantels of players of some of the great players of the world, from Jorge Campos to Lothar Matthaeus to Hong Myung-Bo to Denilson to Nery Castillo to the one and only David Beckham. But for sheer dedication to making his team much worse, both on and off the field, it's hard to match the unremitting performance that Marquez brought to the task. He ended the season with a disgraceful red card, which according to consensus made the Red Bulls stronger.
After a season like this, any self-respecting franchise would ship him off as quickly as possible. So, naturally, he will be back with the Red Bulls next year.
“Rafa will be back,’’ said Soler, who conducted a lengthy exit interview with Marquez yesterday and said the El Tri star is in the Red Bulls’ long-term plans.
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: See previous entry.