My first post on this blog was April 5, 2005. Which means this blog is only about half-a-year old. But it's been around for most of the season, starting with the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and I think it has certainly meant that I've paid closer and better attention to the soccer I was seeing. Which means that there are some people I'd like to honor this season, and since most of them won't see a MLS Award or a BASA or perhaps even DCU's own awards, here's my chance to say thank you to a few special players over the course of the regular season.
My categories are slightly different than most. For instance, I have no "Best Coach" category or "Best Keeper". I really don't even do "Best Forward" or "Best Defender", instead I want to focus on how each player shaped the game regardless of their position. So here goes:2005 Best Defensive Player: Brian Carroll.
Early in the year, I felt that the midfield was not helping out on defense enough, that Ryan Nelsen's presence had perhaps made everyone too comfortable. I mark the change in DCU's fortunes from the early season struggle at the point when Carroll, and to a lesser extend Olsen, started playing a little more back and really focusing on disrupting the opponent's possession. Sure, Brian may not be a great player going forward, and his clearances are adventuresome at times, but there was no one better at shutting down an opponent's passing game in DCU's third of the field. I can't give this award to anyone in the backline, as I feel like your candidates of Boswell, Erpen, Namoff, Prideaux, and Wilson never were sufficiently proficient to survive without help. Playing in more regular season games (32) than any other player for DC United, Brian Carroll was that help.Runner-Up: Nick Rimando2005 Best Attacking Player: Jamie Moreno
Yes, nine of those goals are from the penalty spot. But when you see Jamie on the field, you see the way opposing defenses will bend their shape around him. He worries them, the RB stays just a bit closer to the box than normal, the CB takes a step or two trying to anticipate what pass will come off Moreno's foot, and space appears. Moreno may only have seven goals from the run of play, but the space he opens counts for at least one hidden assist for each real assist he has. In many ways, he is now the Marco Etcheverry of this team. He may not be quite the player he was five years ago, but he his also the heart and soul of the magic that this team can be.Runner-Up: Christian Gomez2005 Best possession Player: Christian Gomez
Stepping into Christian Gomez's head must be like entering the horror world of an H.P. Lovecraft story. The angles and geometries of his mind do not seem to exist in nature, but he still sees them. He plays balls into space like no one else, never seems to take too many touches, but rather just enough before rattling a ball off at an angle that is neither obtuse or acute to Gros or Kovalenko as they make a run into space.Runner-Up: Ben Olsen2005 Best Impact Substitution: Jamil Walker
Jamil when used as a sub is a joy to behold. He doesn't worry about running himself out, but rather delights in the sprint, gliding over long distances as though he were on ice skates. Some point, during this year, he learned how to finish his shots, and the result has made him the perfect substitution around the 60th minute. While I quibble with many of Piotr Nowak's substitutions, seeing Jamil come into the game in the 60th, no matter what the situation, is never one I argue with.Runner-Up: Freddy Adu2005 Workhorse Award: Dema Kovalenko
This is an award not based on skill, but on heart and drive and determination. Dema does not have the best touch out there (or even a particularly good touch). His shots are just as likely to find the Visa Sky Cam (TM) as the net, and he leaves his feet at, shall we say, interesting moments. But there isn't a harder worker out there, he digs, digs, digs at balls. He runs back to play defense. He stares down opposing players through eyes that, if they were rendered in a Marvel Comics Adaptation, would be nothing but blue flames extending from his head. At some point, he realized that the point of all this work isn't just to intimidate to opposition, but to turn defensive moves into attacking moves, to pressure opposing defenses, and to pick up the odd goal here and there. You may not think he's making the best move at any given time, but he's always trying out there.Runner-Up: Clyde Simms 2005 Most Improved Player: Jamil Walker
No one, including me, thought Jamil Walker was anything other than the occasional desperation third attacking sub at the start of this season. He has improved far more than any other player on DCU's roster, including Freddy Adu. What's more, he's done it not just during the offseason, but from game to game. His shots at the beginning of the year were haphazard affairs, almost after-thoughts to making a great run. Now they've developed into well-taken strikes.Runner-Up: Santino Quaranta2005 Best Prospect: Bobby Boswell
I've taken a few shots at the defense over the course of this season, but I can't deny that Bobby Boswell hasn't performed way above expectations. Undrafted out of Florida International University, don't tell me that RSL, the Metros, Los Angeles, Colorado, or Kansas City wouldn't kill to have this guy starting for them right now. He provides height on set pieces which have been problematic for at least three years for DCU. His defense, while not perfect, seems like it will improve with better technique and experience. He has not replaced Ryan Nelsen's skill level in the back, but he just might at some point.Runners-Up: Clyde Simms, Matt Nickell2005 DCU Goal of the Year: Freddy Adu At Real Salt Lake
Really, DCU is going to be involved one way or the other as the MLS Goal of the Year. I hope it's this one.Runner-Up: Bobby Boswell vs. Chelsea. For four minutes, he made us think it might just be pulled off.2005 DCU MVP: Jamie Moreno
This one is tough. Yet it comes down to one thing, Moreno is missed more when he's out of the game than Christian Gomez. No one comes close to replicating Moreno's impact to the game when he's in there. Not Santino Quaranta. Not Jamil Walker. Not Freddy Adu. When Christian Gomez is out, Freddy Adu has been competent in running the midfield. But the drop off is much more severe when Jamie has had to miss a game. He currently leads the team in goals, points, points, shots on goal, fouls suffered, and even ejections (a far cry from the 1998 season). If DCU is to take a fifth MLS cup, he will have to be the difference maker more often than not.Runner-Up: Christian Gomez