With the 2013 MLS season feeling like it ended too prematurely for Vancouver Whitecaps, we held off our annual end of season awards for a few weeks.
A month down the road, it feels like the right time now, with a new manager in place soon and players already moving on. We’ve kept the core awards and tweaked some others.
Don’t agree with some (or all) of them? Great! Let us know who would have got your votes in the comments below.[Catch up with our previous choices: 2011 awards / 2012 awards]
We decided to do things a little bit differently this time by opening up some of the main awards to AFTN’s writers and podcasters. The AFTN committee. So Aaron Campbell, Jay Duke, Steve Pandher, Steven Lamothe, Zachary Meisenheimer and myself came to a points decision on ‘Player of the Year’, ‘Young Player of the Year’, ‘Goal of the Year’, ‘Game of the Year’ and which MLS changes we’d like to see. We picked our top three for each category and allocated points accordingly to get the final top three. All the rest of the awards were picked by either myself or with Steve’s input. So without any further ado….
AFTN WHITECAPS PLAYER OF THE SEASON:
WINNER: CAMILO SANVEZZO – A unanimous choice. Back with a bang after winning our 2011 award. Where would the Caps have been without his 25 goals and six assists? And where could they have been if he could have had a regular strike partner for the whole season? Would still love to see him integrated more in the overall team play, but he has made strides in that area as well. Will be under pressure in 2014 to repeat his contribution. Hoping it is not like 2012 where he struggled to find his way under a new gaffer.
2nd: Kenny Miller – With 8 goals and an assist from 21 MLS appearances, we can only ponder what difference it would have made to the Caps’ campaign if he had been able to stay healthy the whole year. There were some amazing goals in amongst that lot too. His qualities did shine through this year after the disappointments of the last half season we got out of him. He also showed the importance of a top football IQ to a team like the Caps who are missing that elsewhere and it will be a void to fill if he moves on in January or June.
3rd: Nigel Reo-Coker – We don’t think he had the impact he had hoped to…and yet can you imagine the gap in our midfield without him? Ultimately he didn’t have a great influence in more matches and/or his teammates performances weren’t able to compliment his. He is now under contract for 2014, but it will be interesting to know what the details are. We’ll all be looking for him to take more games by the scruff of the neck and lead us on to victory.
There were also votes cast for Johnny Leveron and Andy O’Brien.
(2012 winner: Joe Cannon / 2011 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo)
AFTN WHITECAPS YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON:
WINNER: KEKUTA MANNEH – Won with twice the number of points than his nearest challenger. Kekuta’s late season heroics left everyone wondering what he could have contributed if he’d gotten more minutes. Or was his playing time and gradual growth the right way forward? In this debate the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Will be interesting to see how our new gaffer uses Kekuta going forward, but there will continue to be high expectations and now additional pressure to perform and improve on his 6 goals and 2 assists rookie season.
2nd: Russell Teibert – It was an important year for Russell. He had to perform or he may not have found himself here much longer. He rose to the occasion but struggled to find his top form in the second half of the season. Whether he can maintain his position as a regular starter is still largely in his own hands.
3rd: Marco Bustos – So many of the new young crop of Residency talent could have filled the final spot, but the exciting play of Marco pushed him into the top three. Performed fantastically in the Reserve outings he was given and could make the MLS squad properly next year.
There were other votes for Sam Adekugbe, Marco Carducci, Niall Cousens, Jackson Farmer and Kianz Froese.
(2011 and 2012 winner: Caleb Clarke)
AFTN’S WHITECAPS TO WATCH IN 2014:
WINNER: SAM ADEKUGBE – The latest Residency prospect to get a MLS contract, he has already made his MLS debut and passed with flying colours. There is a real chance that he will challenge Jordan Harvey to make the starting left back spot his own before 2014 is out.
2nd: Marco Bustos – One of the most exciting outfield players the Whitecaps currently have. Hasn’t looked out of place in the Reserve games he’s played and will get a MLS contract soon. Of all the current attacking Residency talent, he has the potential to go the furthest if his development continues at it’s current pace.
3rd: Kianz Froese – He is considered by many to be maybe a year ahead of Marco in terms of build and development. Almost certain to be on the MLS roster for next year.
(2012 winner: Ben Fisk / 2011 winner: Caleb Clarke)
WHITECAPS GOAL OF THE SEASON:
WINNER: CAMILO SANVEZZO – scissor kick v Portland (6/10/13) – What can you say about the goal that hasn’t already been said? A stunning finish. You never get tired of watching it. And it’s now officially the MLS ‘Goal of the Year’ as well.
2nd: Camilo Sanvezzo – Mazy 1st goal v Chicago (14/7/13) – The ball seemed glued to Camilo’s boots as he gets on the end of a long Knighton goal kick, goes on a mazy, twists and turns the Fire defender inside and out and slots home the opening goal of his brace and the Caps’ three. It was also fitting that it was the Caps’ 100th MLS goal.
3rd: Kenny Miller – take a bounce, take a bow second goal v New England (15/6/13) – One of two stunning goals for Miller against the Revolution in this game, although I personally prefer his other one. The experience of the Scot shines through as he allows the ball to take a bounce, wrong footing the defender and then hits a beautiful strike into the top corner.
Five other goals got votes, including Miller’s first goal against New England.
(2012 winner: Darren Mattocks v Toronto (11/7/12) / 2011 winner: Eric Hassli v Seattle (11/6/11))
WHITECAPS GAME OF THE SEASON:
WINNER: v SE4TT1E (9/10/13 – 4-1 Away win) – Really went without saying. Phenomenal performance that stunned everyone and led to our Club being the first to four Cascadia Cups, and it was a magical night for supporters that will never be forgotten in Whitecaps folklore. Shame it all counted for nothing in the playoff race in the end.
2nd: v Seattle (6/7/13 – 2-0 Home win) – Not our best performance overall, but the result was amazing and saw the Caps first win against Cascadian opposition in MLS. Kudos to Brad Knighton for his best ever display as a ‘Cap…and picking up an assist. Also, the ‘Standing Strong’ tifo was well done.
3rd: v New York (1/6/13 – 2-1 Away win) – The win that set up a mammoth month of June and showed the players, pundits and fans that the team can actually go on the road, play attacking and win.
There were also votes for the 2-2 draw at home to Portland; the 3-2 loss in Seattle; the 3-1 home win against LA; the victorious season opener against Toronto; the 2-2 Voyageurs Cup final second leg draw; and the 1-1 PDL draw with Victoria that won the Juan De Fuca plate.
(2012 winner: v San Jose Earthquakes (5/5/12 – 2-1 win at BC Place / 2011 winner: v Kansas City (2/4/11 – 3-3 draw at Empire Field))
SAVE OF THE YEAR:
Our first new award of the batch. Not sure why we didn’t have it before, but there you go!
WINNER: MARCO CARDUCCI double save v Victoria Highlanders (28/6/13 – Thunderbird Stadium, PDL)
– For fear of being a bit too self indulgent with not going for a MLS save, anyone that saw this double point blank save knows that it was world class from the then 16 year old. And it retained the Juan De Fuca plate for the Caps. Words don’t really do it justice but unfortunately that’s what you’ll have to take as there’s no video evidence of it.
TACKLE OF THE YEAR:
WINNER: NIGEL REO-COKER ON SAM CRONIN (at San Jose 6/4/13)
– Another new award and there could only be one winner. NRC for his crunching tackle on San Jose’s Sam Cronin in the game on April 6th that sent the Earthquake flying through the air with the greatest of ease. No foul. No subsequent disciplinary action for the tackle. A perfect challenge on a 50/50 ball and one of the highlights of the season. MLS could do with a lot more robust, legal challenges like that and the Caps could certainly do with a player that brings that grit to the midfield in every game.
MISS OF THE YEAR:
WINNER: NIGEL REO-COKER (v Columbus 9/3/13) – Nigel Reo-Coker makes it two new awards on the bounce but this isn’t one he’ll be bragging about. Reo-Coker blasted over an open goal from eight yards out in the home game against Columbus Crew on March 9th. it was a horrible miss and not the last we were to see from him over the course of the season as he battled with Erik Hurtado for the title of “Miss Vancouver”.
BEST AWAYDAY :
WINNER: SEATTLE (9/10/13) – Going down to Seattle just hasn’t really done it for me the last few years. The over familiarity of it all, the vast stadium and being so far away from the action, having to listen to the ECS and of course never winning down there all contribute to that. But when you go down to your closest rivals and take them apart in a stunning 4-1 win, what’s not to like? It was an amazing night and no earplugs required.
(2012 winner: Orlando / 2011 winner: Portland)
MOST EMBARRASSING OR ANGER INDUCING MOMENT :
WINNER: JUN MARQUES DAVIDSON’S HEADBUTT AGAINST PHILADELPHIA – Embarrassing to see a player of yours react like that, albeit provoked by a horrible couple of challenges from Keon Daniel that deserved a red card of their own. Just sheer stupidity though as first the red mist and then Toledo’s red card came over him. A costly sending off too as the Caps lost their unbeaten home record in the game, despite playing well, in one of the major turning points of the season. Creates so much anger thinking back on it.
(2012 winner: Failure to beat TFC in three games / 2011 winner: The Empire grass pitch debacle)
DISGRACE OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: LOSING THE VOYAGEURS CUP BY NOT HAVING A MAN ON THE POST – Losing the Voyageurs Cup at home is always going to be hard to take. Losing it because of a schoolboy defensive error in the closing minutes makes it even harder. I don’t care if it was Martin Rennie, Brad Knighton or YP Lee that made the decision or if it was some sort of joint effort, but it should never have happened and the Caps were severely punished for it when Hassoun Camara headed home the Cup winning goal. Who knows, Rennie may still have a job if the decision hadn’t been made.
(2012 winner: Sekeres and Price for reaction to “Fuck You Dallas” chant / 2011 winner: Sportsnet)
HERO OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: CARL ROBINSON – We went back and forth on this one but in the end we went with the assistant coach for the hard work he has done in helping make Camilo and Teibert the key contributing players they were this year, along with a lot of other work with players not so widely known. It’s not just what’s been said publically about his input, but also from private chats with some players. The impact and his influence on getting Rennie to see the light with those mentioned cannot be underestimated.
Honourable mentions go to Jay DeMerit for coming back from injury so quickly and to Kekuta Manneh for his performance in Se4tt1e in winning Vancouver their fourth Cascadia Cup.
(2012 winner: Young-Pyo Lee / 2011 winner: Joe Cannon)
VILLAIN OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: WILL JOHNSON – Some players you love to hate. Some you just hate. Johnson falls into both categories for different fans, with his Canadian roots saving him from too much backlash at times. One thing that is certain though is that he ups his game when he plays Vancouver, winds up the fans and usually makes the Caps pay. He is great to talk to in the locker room post game though, which puts him in the former category for us. Just. Damn him!
(2012 winner: David Ferreira / 2011 winner: Tommy Soehn)
THINGS WE’D LOVE MLS TO CHANGE :
A new winner! In fact the winner for the last two years didn’t even make the top three or a mention this year, so that’s a good sign of progress.
WINNER: TRANSPARENCY OF RULES – Every year without fail it seems that we hear about some rule that we didn’t know about before. Football is a simple game, MLS is not a simple League. There needs to be transparency for all rules and a single place where everyone can go and read everything they need to know about them. Without that it’s a mockery.
2nd: CHANGES TO THE HOMEGROWN RULES – Teams like Vancouver are being effectively punished by not being able to offer good value homegrown contracts to more Residency players. There are moves afoot to change this a little but it goes nowhere near far enough and if a club like Vancouver wanted to put more emphasis on their homegrown talents than college drafts then they should be able to do so. And pay them a wage they can actually live on in a city like Vancouver.
3rd: SINGLE TABLE WITH A BALANCED SCHEDULE – Becoming increasingly unlikely as the numbers of teams increase but it’s still popular amongst our panel.
(2011 and 2012 winner: The standard of refereeing)
THE WILLIE JOHNSTON “DID THAT JUST REALLY HAPPEN?” AWARD :
WINNER: THREE GOALS IN 140 SECONDS IN CAPS v PORTLAND GAME (6/10/13) – The most amazing couple of minutes of play in a Whitecaps MLS match since the stoppage time comeback against Kansas City in 2011. The Caps score to tie things up and revive our playoff hopes, then the Timbers go right up the pitch to retake the lead, then the Caps go up the pitch and score again themselves thanks to Camilo’s wondrous scissor kick. That goal in itself could make you say “did that just really happen?”, but the whole 140 seconds wins it for us.
(2012 winner: Darren Mattocks aerial goal in Toronto / 2011 winner: Eric Hassli’s double jersey sending off celebration)
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY AWARD :
WINNER: ALAIN ROCHAT – Whereas previous award winners were players we tried, and failed, to sign, we’ve taken this year’s award in a slightly different direction with Alain Rochat, someone we had and let go. The award isn’t for his release, which as I’ve argued before did make some sense, but for the fact that we let him go so cheaply and then lost out on a transfer fee when DC United couldn’t believe their luck and sent him back to Switzerland for some hard cash.
(2012 winner: John Carew / 2011 winner: Robbie Savage)
QUOTE OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: NIGEL REO-COKER’S COMMENTS ON THE DIVERS OF DALLAS – When I chatted to Nigel Reo-Coker in April ahead of the game in Dallas and asked him how you deal with a team of divers like Dallas, I couldn’t have expected that his reply would go viral and cause such a fuss. It did though but he was certainly spot on when he said (laughing it has to be noted which no-one else did):
“I’ll make sure if they’re gonna go down they go down for a good reason.”
(2012 winner: none awarded / 2011 winner: Tommy Soehn)
THE “PLEASE JUST SHUT UP” AWARD :
WINNER: MEDIA WHO JUST CAN’T SEEM TO GRASP THE CONCEPT OF A DECISION MAKING GROUP ABOVE THE MANAGER – The infamous C word. Bobby Lenarduzzi must have nightmares about the word committee with the way that some media have build a giant molehill out of it. Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t legitimate concerns as to just how much power and decision making tools they wield, but the whole concept is no different to a Board of Directors at a UK club. It’s not some new thing thought up in Vancouver and the reaction was somewhat baffling, although we do still blame the use of the actual C word itself for much of that.
(2012 winner: Old media fuddy duddies who just don’t get football crowds / 2011 winners: Poor TV commentators)
HAIRCUT OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: TOMMY HEINEMANN – WEREWOLF WONDER – Now it would be easy to give it to Russell Teibert’s fauxhawk, or one of his many other looks. But as a baldy myself, I get annoyed how much time he must spend on his hair! I prefer the unkempt, haven’t seen a pair of scissors for a while look of Tommy Heinemann. Add in the mutton chops and you’ve got a great look to market. He did tidy it up a bit as the season went on, but it gave us the impression of a man more interested in honing his footballing skills than getting his look right. Are you reading this Erik Hurtado?!
(2012 winner: Greg Klazura’s Shaven Locks / 2011 winner: Eric Hassli’s Mohawk)
THE MUSTAPHA JARJU “WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY” AWARD :
WINNER: DARREN MATTOCKS – Too early to call a flop? Does a year of redemption lie ahead and if it does will it be elsewhere? All questions we’ll know the answer to this time next year, but for now, Mattocks took home $212,000, almost double what Corey Hertzog and Tommy Heinemann took home combined. Those two released strikers managed to find the back of the net four times between them over the season. One more goal than Mattocks managed at over $70,000 per goal. Horrible value. Horrible performances. Horrible attitude.
A dishonourable mention goes to the recently departed Daigo Kobayashi who showed glimpses of what he could have been but was nowhere near the guaranteed $238,833 he took home.
(2012 winner: Kenny Miller / 2011 winner: The Empire grass pitch)
THE PAUL BARBER “TALKING OUT OF YOUR ASS” AWARD :
WINNER: DARREN MATTOCKS’ JAMAICAN TV INTERVIEW – Quelle surprise! Darren does the double. Planet Mattocks must be a great place to live. If you’re Darren Mattocks. Delusional, self-aggrandizing and jaw dropping stuff all at once. More about carrying a huge chip on his shoulder than carrying the team.
(2012 winner: Media pundits disrespecting Caps achievement in reaching playoffs / 2011 winner: Paul Barber)
FAN CHANT/SONG/BATTLE CRY OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: “WE LOVE OUR COUSENS” – Another nod to the valiant few that get our asses out to watch the PDL games. Inspired by the goalscoring exploits of Niall Cousens, it was impromptu, fun and stuck. Just like all good football chants should evolve. I’d have nominated my new Marco Bustos song but we’ve only given it an airing once so far, so we’ll save that for next year!
(2012 winner: “Fuck You Dallas” / 2011 winner: “Boom!”)
And that’s the end of our 2013 awards. So share your thoughts and award winners below. Who knows what next year will bring? Hopefully some more success for starters!