AFTN’s Vancouver Whitecaps End Of Season Awards – 2018 (Part One)

AFTN’s Vancouver Whitecaps End Of Season Awards – 2018 (Part One)

Another year is over. So that can only mean one thing – it’s time for AFTN’s eighth annual end of season awards, as we look back at Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2018 season and some more aspects from the North American footballing landscape.

For the ‘Caps, it was a year of ups and downs, highs and lows, and ultimately disappointment. A year of new faces coming in, some familiar ones moving on, and a new management team set to come in.

The year started off in the sunny climes of Hawaii, full of hope and expectations, with many believing this to be the strongest squad the ‘Caps had assembled in the MLS era. That faith was shaken by an April that saw some horrendous performances and disciplinary issues, then things looked to be turning around, before fizzling out by a run that brought an end to the Carl Robinson era in Vancouver.

All that’s in the history books now, so let’s look back at the best and the worst, the highs and the lows, and the joys and frustrations from Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2018 season, and more.

Don’t agree with some (or all) of our choices? Great! Let us know who would have got your votes in the comments below.

Here’s our first ten awards and you can also catch up with our choices from previous years in the links below:

2011 awards / 2012 awards / 2013 awards / 2014 awards / 2015 awards / 2016 awards (Part One) / 2016 awards (Part Two) / 2017 awards

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AFTN WHITECAPS PLAYER OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: ALPHONSO DAVIES – Fare ye well Phonzie, and safe travels over the sea to Deutschland. A break out year for the young star, and that’s not even factoring in his $22 million transfer to Bayern. It’s kind of incredible to think that heading into this, his third MLS season (and second full), the 17-year-old had yet to find the back of the net in the league and only had one MLS assist to his name from 35 appearances. This season saw him end with eight league goals and lead the team with 11 assists, as he became a man in footballing terms and officially stamp that ‘Future of Canadian Soccer’ card. He’ll be missed from the club in many ways. It’s been a joy to watch his grow and develop these past three years.

Runner-up: Kei Kamara – While Davies may have had most people’s Player of the Year nods, I had Kei Kamara running him a close second, and maybe even in the lead heading into that last match, where Phonzie blew us away. Kamara was finally the striker we’ve been crying out for for years. Davies may have stolen a lot of the headlines, but without Kamara this would have been a very different team, and you can even argue that some of Davies’ growth this season may not have come at the pace it did without the veteran beside him. Kamara had his second best ever MLS season, with 14 goals and six assists. He came in and did what was expected of him, with none of the locker room dissension that has been linked with him elsewhere anywhere in sight. A great addition, but yet another fleeting one in the striking ranks and he’s off to Colorado to continue his move up the all-time MLS scoring ranks. It was fun while it lasted.

2017 winner: Kendall Waston
2016 winner: Christian Bolanos
2015 winner: David Ousted
2014 winner: Pedro Morales
2013 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo
2012 winner: Joe Cannon
2011 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo

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AFTN WHITECAPS YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: ALPHONSO DAVIES – we were going to give it to a player not named Phonzie, but for the record lists for years to come, it has to be him, for all the details outlined above. Plus there wasn’t exactly a long list of alternatives.

2017 winner: Jake Nerwinski
2016 winner: Brett Levis
2015 winner: Tim Parker
2014 winner: Matias Laba
2013 winner: Kekuta Manneh
2012 winner: Caleb Clarke
2011 winner: Caleb Clarke

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AFTN WHITECAPS RESIDENCY PLAYER OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: THEO BAIR – We’ve been big fans of Theo for a couple of years now at AFTN and his final year with the Residency showed why. He finished the USSDA season with 20 goals from his 34 appearances, including a very strong showing in the playoffs, and his play was a constant attacking threat, in both the winger and striker roles he was asked to play over the season. His performances earned him a MLS Homegrown deal, to start from next season, along with involvement in Canada’s U20 and U23 teams, and we’re looking forward to seeing the 19-year-old in the next stage of his development, where he has all the attributes to make it in the pro game.

2017 winner: Jose Hernandez
2016 winner: Alan Camacho

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WHITECAPS GOAL OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: ALPHONSO DAVIES v MINNESOTA UNITED (29/07/18 – 4-2 home win) – We saw a few nice goals this season. We had Yordy Reyna’s solo effort against Minnesota, that saw him waltz past four Loons before firing home. Our winner came from the same match, and was one of two Alphonso Davies goals that were in consideration for the top prize. The other was his solo consolation goal in D.C. That one came in a 3-1 defeat, so meant nothing. The fact that our winner came in a victory was what pushed it to the top spot. Both were great goals that showed Davies’ dazzling speed and fantastic footwork. Against Minnesota he control the ball superbly, danced through five Minnesota players, and ended up nutmegging Loons keeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Take a bow son!

2017 winner: Cristian Techera v Sporting KC (20/07/17)
2016 winner: Blas Perez v Chicago (11/05/16)
2015 winner: Gershon Koffie v RSL (30/5/15)
2014 winner: Erik Hurtado v Seattle (24/5/14)
2013 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo v Portland (6/10/13)
2012 winner: Darren Mattocks v Toronto (11/7/12)
2011 winner: Eric Hassli v Seattle (11/6/11)

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WHITECAPS GAME OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: 2-1 AWAY WIN v PORTLAND TIMBERS (11/08/18) – Another award where there were a few things in the running for the prize. The 4-2 win over Minnesota was in the mix for a good all round performance and some nice goals, as noted above. The 5-2 win at home to Orlando was another. Both of those were against weak teams though. The 2-1 win in Toronto in October was unexpected and ended TFC’s season. That was a close second to the eventual winner.

Coming off back to back draws and being undefeated in four matches, it probably shouldn’t have been that big a surprise to come away from Portland with at least a point or even all three. But yet it was. Part of that was we weren’t playing all that well really and the Timbers were on a 15 match unbeaten run, but the Whitecaps proved streak breakers once again thanks to first half goals from Kei Kamara and Cristian Techera, some comical Portland goalkeeping, and some of the most resolute defending seen from Vancouver players all season.

2017 winner: v NYCFC (05/07/17 – 3-2 come from behind home win)
2016 winner: v Portland (23/10/16 – 4-1 end of season home win)
2015 winner: v LA (04/04/15 – 2-0 coming of age home win)
2014 winner: v Seattle (10/10/14 – 1-0 Cascadia Cup clinching away win)
2013 winner: v Seattle (9/10/13 – 4-1 away thrashing of Sounders)
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)

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SAVE OF THE YEAR :

WINNER: STEFAN MARINOVIC v NEW YORK RED BULLS (18/08/18 – BC Place) – Stefan Marinovic had a couple of big saves this year, with ones against New York City FC, Portland Timbers (off a Diego Valeri free kick), and Montreal Impact (off Saphir Taider in the Canadian Championship) in the mix. The winning save though went to his effort against New York Red Bulls at BC Place on August 18th, where he sprawled full length to deny Alex Muyl at point blank range. I’ll miss the Kiwi keeper. Great guy to chat to off the pitch and saves like this on it. He maybe needed more of the latter to have kept him here.

2017 winner: Stefan Marinovic v San Jose (15/10/17 – 1-1 home draw, MLS)
2016 winner: David Ousted v Orlando (16/07/16 – 2-2 home draw, MLS)
2015 winner: David Ousted v Philadelphia (09/05/15 – 3-0 home win, MLS)
2014 winner: David Ousted v New England (22/3/14 – 0-0 away draw, MLS)
2013 winner: Marco Carducci double save v Victoria Highlanders (28/6/13 – Thunderbird Stadium, PDL)
No award in 2011 or 2012.

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WHITECAP TO WATCH IN 2019:

WINNER: DAVID NORMAN – We’d talked about retiring this award after the lack of integration and impact the Whitecaps young players have made from the Residency/WFC2 over the years. But with a new coaching staff, hopefully there’ll be new hope and a way better integration. So with that in mind, we’ve picked a player who has a MLS deal and should hopefully see some minutes next year. And for the second time in the award’s history (which may or may not be a good thing or indicator of our track record in this category!), we have a back to back winner, and it’s David Norman. We genuinely felt that 2018 would be the season that saw the midfielder make the breakthrough into the Whitecaps MLS matchday squad after signing a Homegrown deal. But instead, Carl Robinson packed his squad with defensive midfielders and the 20-year-old fell further and further down the depth chart and didn’t get a sniff of first team action, apart from some brief Voyageurs Cup minutes. That saw him finish the season out on loan, heading over to Scottish Championship side Queen of the South, where he performed well, making 11 appearances. That loan is now officially done, but it will be interesting to see if the Doonhamers try and get him back till the end of the season. If he isn’t going to be in Dos Santos’ first team plans, this feels like the best option for him.

2017 winner: David Norman
2016 winner: Alphonso Davies
2015 winner: Marco Bustos
2014 winner: Marco Bustos
2013 winner: Sam Adekugbe
2012 winner: Ben Fisk
2011 winner: Caleb Clarke

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY A WHITECAP AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL:

WINNER: KENDALL WASTON (COSTA RICA) – Another back to back winner. Kendall won in 2017 for his folklore goal that clinched Costa Rica’s place in Russia for this year’s World Cup. Although that World Cup experience didn’t go as well as hoped, with the Ticos crashing out at the group stage and Waston only playing in their final match, he left his mark on the tournament by getting his own World Cup moment – a goal against Switzerland in their 2-2 draw. He played seven times for his country this year, scoring four goals. His time in Vancouver may have ended on a bit of a sour note, but there’s no doubting his international play has been stellar.

2017 winner: Kendall Waston (Costa Rica)
2016 winner: Blas Perez (Panama)
2015 winner: Darren Mattocks (Jamaica)

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MISS OF THE YEAR AWARD (AKA THE BREK SHEA MEMORIAL TROPHY):

WINNER: BREK SHEA v HOUSTON DYNAMO at BC PLACE (11/05/18) – You could be forgiven for calling Brek Shea ‘Miss Whitecaps’. That’s just his long hair. It’s deceiving. As is his ability to get himself in great goalscoring siutations and then fluff it up completely in front of a gaping goal. He had a couple of howlers again this past season. His miss at home to Houston on May 11th was something special though. Alphonso Davies played a great ball across the six yard box to a wide open Shea, and with the goal gaping and Dynamo keeper Joe Willis scrambling, the ‘Caps Designated Player somehow got the ball caught into this feet and managed to blow the chance. The Whitecaps ended up drawing that match 2-2, throwing away two points that would have been very important come the end of the season. So not just a bad miss, but a very costly one as well.

Of course you could argue that the biggest miss involving Shea actually came at the end of the previous season, when the triggers on a new deal with the ‘Caps was missed and we were stuck with the American and his horrendous salary for another year, with a contract no club would take him off our hands for.

There were some other notable misses, with Kei Kamara mishitting in front of goal and Yordy Reyna rounding KC keeper Tim Melia, only to mess it up and set up a 6-0 hammering, also right up there!

2017 winner: Brek Shea (at Tigres 14/03/17)
2016 winner: Erik Hurtado (v New York Red Bulls 03/09/16)
2015 winner: Kekuta Manneh (at San Jose 03/10/05)
2014 winner: Darren Mattocks (Lifetime Achievement award)
2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker (v Columbus) {new award}

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TACKLE OF THE YEAR:

WINNER: ALY GHAZAL ON MICHAEL BARRIOS (v FC DALLAS AT BC PLACE – 23/09/18) – Every year when I’m putting these awards together I make a mental reminder to start writing things down as I go along over the course of the season. I never do, which made this award particularly hard this year. There didn’t feel like too many standout tackles, but this one did stay in my mind a little and two of our readers tweeted this suggestion to us, so we went for Aly Ghazal’s great track back work and well time tackle from behind on Michael Barrios to possibly save a run in on goal when Dallas came to BC Place on September 23rd. Just a week shy of being a year from his winning tackle from 2017 funnily enough. There were certainly a few crunchers from Ghazal in his last year as a Whitecap. If you feel we missed a better one, let us know!

2017 winner: Aly Ghazal (Home v Sporting KC 30/09/17)
2016 winner: Garret Kusch (on Mexican pitch invader 25/03/16)
2015 winner: Matias Laba (at Montreal 12/08/15)
2014 winner: Matias Laba (Home v Dallas 4/10/14)
2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker (at San Jose) {new award that year}

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And so concludes our first ten awards from the 2018 season. We’ll be back soon with Part Two which features Best Away Day, Quote of the Year, our Heroes and Villains, Most Embarrassing Moment, Disgrace of the Year, and more.

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Authored by: Michael McColl

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