2013 Defender of the Year: Beltran edges out others, Schuler in the mix

USA TODAY Sports

The end of the regular season brings with it an opportunity to reflect on what we've seen over 34 games spanning March to October. RSL Soapbox contributors bring you our picks for the best players this season. Now: our best defender this year.

Charles Barnard: Chris Schuler. This might be a controversial pick with the limited time that he played due to injury. But when he did play he was RSL's best defender. The team only gave up a goal every 96.00 minutes when he played compared to giving up a goal every 62.31 when he didn't play.

Chad Loveland: Tony Beltran. This is probably the hardest category. A month ago this was an easy choice Tony Beltran next. But his form has been terrible recently. Nat Borchers played the most but his year while still great seems not quite as good as previous years. I think Chris Wingert had a great year as a defender but he missed so much time surely that figures into the equation. Can I pick Nick for this one too? No, well I tried. I think the of the year part will make me pick Tony Beltran.

Matt Montgomery: Tony Beltran. This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer. There is no clear victor here. At first glance, handing it to Chris Schuler seems the most reasonable option. The start of the season saw Schuler a little lacking, and he missed huge swathes of the season. But when he came back from injury, he was an incredible steadying force. But he played only half of the available games this season, and maybe that's not enough to win an award. Tony Beltran is the other option on hand, and though his form may have dipped a bit in the last few weeks, he's been defensively solid through most of the season. In a side in which it's difficult to describe anybody as defensively solid through the entire season, that's saying something. He may not be the best crosser of the ball (though I maintain that's not something to worry about) but he's one of the best one-on-one defenders we have at the club, and he offers a boost to our right-sided play, connecting the little passes to and from Luis Gil and others in the midfield.

Randal Serr: Tony Beltran. Tony Beltran has had a season for which he has received the recognition of the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann having been called up to the U.S. Men's National Team a few times as well as by MLS having made the All-Star team. Beltran has been a stalwart in the back and it is no secret that RSL allows less goals when Beltran is playing.

Join the discussion: Who's been the best defender this year? Who has impressed more than you expected? Who stands out for the right or wrong reasons?

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