Today Major League Soccer announced the nominees for the annual End of Year Awards, which include the Landon Donovan MLS MVP, Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, Defender of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year, Referee of the Year, and Assistant Referee of the Year awards. You can see the whole list of nominees here. The nominees will be voted on by MLS players, coaches, technical directors, and general managers, and select national media members. Since we’re here to talk about Real Salt Lake though, let’s jump right in to which players have been nominated for what awards and then look at if they have a chance of winning any.
Landon Donovan MLS MVP
- Herrera, Aaron
- Kreilach, Damir
Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year
- Ochoa, David
Defender of the Year
- Glad, Justen
- Herrera, Aaron
Newcomer of the Year
- Julio, Anderson
- Rubin, Rubio
Young Player of the Year
- Ochoa, David
Comeback Player of the Year
- Rubin, Rubio
MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year
- MacMath, Zac
Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year
- Mastroeni, Pablo
So that’s eight individual RSL representatives on the ballot this year and 11 nominations overall. While other teams definitely have more overall nominations, it’s all about quality over quality in these sorts of things, right? So let’s break down our nominations in each category to see what they’ve got and what they’re up against.
First, and maybe most important, are our two MVP nominees: Aaron Herrera and Damir Kreilach. Both of these guys are having the season of their lives, with Kreilach’s being the more notable of the two in my opinion. He has 15 goals (tied for 3rd in the league), 8 assists (not too shabby), and has been RSL’s most important player this season. Herrera has 1 goal and 10 (!) assists, which for a defender is very good. Kreilach has the better chance of winning in my opinion, but he has some rough competition to go against, most notably Carles Gil, Dániel Sallói, and Hany Mukhtar. Herrera is an outsider here and I don’t expect him to poll very high, at least in this category...
For Goalkeeper of the Year, we have our own Wonderwall (that’s a thing, right) David Ochoa. While he’s probably not winning this award, he’s come into his first full season with confidence and has shown well and deserves to be RSL’s nominee on this list. Here’s to at least a couple more years with RSL for Ochoa!
Defender of the year: Herrera and Glad. By far the most important defenders for RSL this season, I’d guess that Herrera will be the more competitive of the two in this category. I think he’s still a longshot to win though considering he’s going up against regular USMNT center-backs (which are usually favored in this category), but I expect him to get part of the vote at least for the incredible season he’s having.
I’ll be honest, we probably don’t have a shot at Newcomer of the Year. Anderson Julio and Rubio Rubin have been great (and at least one of them will probably end up in the top 3 goals of the year), but my guess is they’ll probably get beaten out by the likes of Yeferson Soteldo, Eduardo “Chofis” Lopez, and Cristian “Chicho” Arango. Maybe if they had a cool nickname they might place higher.
For Young Player of the Year, we have Ochoa again. This list is basically a rehash of the 22 Under 22 list from last month, so this award is basically Ricardo Pepi’s already.
Moving on, we have one that we might actually have a chance at. Rubio Rubin as Comeback Player of the Year makes a lot of sense to me. After being touted as the future of the USMNT, he fell off to the point that he didn’t have a team to start 2020. San Diego Loyal took a chance on him for the last part of the 2020 USL season, RSL took a chance on him for 2021, and he’s done extremely well with 8 goals and 5 assists. While there are definitely bigger names than his on this list like Chicharito and Josef Martinez to name a few, I truly think that with the turnaround that Rubin’s career has had in the past year, he should be seriously considered for this award.
I’ll be honest that I haven’t followed Zac MacMath’s humanitarian work this year, but he’s done some awesome stuff for the community. He has already been named RSL’s 2021 Humanitarian of the Year (according to his bio) and has done awesome work with the special olympics. This isn’t the first time he’s been nominated for this award and hopefully it won’t be the last. Keep up the good work Zac!
And finally we have Pablo Mastroeni, RSL’s Coach of the Year Nominee. If any of you had guessed that this would ever happen, I’d be shocked. Realistically, he’s probably not going to win this one because of the incredible season that Bruce Arena’s had with the New England Revolution, but you can always hope that someone takes pity on his situation and votes for him because he was handed a bad situation and has kept us in playoff contention.
Well, there’s that for you! Do you think that any of our guys have a shot at an award this year? Make your case in the comments for the RSL player you think will win one of these awards.