AFTN’s End Of Season Awards – 2019 (Part One – Vancouver Whitecaps)

AFTN’s End Of Season Awards – 2019 (Part One – Vancouver Whitecaps)

Another year is over. So that can only mean one thing – it’s time for AFTN’s ninth annual end of season awards, as we look back at Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2019 season and some more aspects from the North American footballing landscape.

For the ‘Caps, it was a year to forget both on and off the pitch.

The hope surrounding Marc Dos Santos’ hire as head coach faded fast, as the magnitude of the job facing him soon became clear if he is to turn the ‘Caps into serious playoff contenders.

He swung and missed big time with a number of signings and the pressure is on everyone at the club to make sure that the same mistakes are not repeated this offseason. Any repeat will spell game over for many fans with the club, if they haven’t said that already. But with a promised new Technical Director and guarantees of money being spent on players that will make a difference, there is still a feeling that things can get better. They surely can’t get any worse!

It was a rebuild year. Many accepted that. But now the club is facing another one of sorts. While the season just managed to salvage itself from being the worst one ever by the Whitecaps in their MLS era, it was often overshadowed by scandals and perceived mismanagement off it. Some of those still haven’t reached their conclusion and hopefully won’t drag on.

The season is in the history books now, nothing can be changed, so let’s look back at the best and the worst, the highs and the lows, and the joys and frustrations from Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2019 season, and some other aspects of this season in North American football.

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 / 2018 awards (Part One) / 2018 awards (Part Two)

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AFTN WHITECAPS PLAYER OF THE SEASON

WINNER: MAXIME CREPEAU – There really only is one choice. Maxime Crepeau had a fantastic season. By no means a perfect one, but without his outstanding performances that Whitecaps goals against tally of 59 could have been so much worse. He came into the preseason the narrow underdog in the close battle for the number one jersey with MLS veteran Zac MacMath. By March he’d made the starting spot his own and finished the season with 26 MLS appearances, recording five clean sheets. Along the way he set the MLS record for the most saves in a match, making 16 in the 3-1 loss at San Jose in August. A testament to both how well he played this season and what he had to deal with in front of him.

Runner-up: Yordy Reyna – There’s not a lot of options here to be brutally honest. We had it down between Doneil Henry and Yordy Reyna if we wanted to give a runner-up, but when you have a defence with the third worst goals against total in the west (not all down to the backline I know), it’s hard to give them too much recognition. For that reason, Reyna takes it after his most productive season as a Whitecap in terms of goals (7) but least productive in terms of assists (just one). He didn’t really hit his stride till the second half of the season, part of that due to injury, but without him producing, there was very little spark in the Whitecaps attack.

2018 winner: Alphonso Davies
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: THEO BAIR – Another award where there wasn’t exactly a long list to whittle the winner down from, but there was very much a clear winner – Theo Bair. The 23-year-old Inbeom Hwang could have been in the mix, but when you come here as a young DP and an expected difference maker, you need to have the season to back that up and unfortunately he didn’t. That left the 20-year-old Bair to take the plaudits after a solid debut MLS season that saw him establish himself as a first team regular and contribute two goals and two assists from his 17 appearances. We’ve talked a lot over the years about young players needing to grab their opportunities when they are presented to them. It hasn’t happened far too often, but last year’s AFTN Residency Player of the Year seized his opportunity with both hands and ran with it. MDS talked about his attitude adjustment midseason as being the key to his success. He now faces an even more testing second season where he’ll be fighting for his place in the pecking order among what is sure to be some strong additions to the Whitecaps attack.

2018 winner: Alphonso Davies
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 ACADEMY PLAYER OF THE SEASON

WINNER: KAMRON HABIBULLAH – One of two brothers currently in the Whitecaps Academy, Kamron had a breakout USSDA season. Splitting his time between the U15s to begin with before moving up to be an impact player with the U17s, scoring 17 goals in 24 overall appearances. About to head off to play with Canada at the U17 World Cup in Brazil, he’s highly thought of in the Whitecaps organization and is part of the U23 development squad. If he can continue his upward trajectory as he moves through the levels, a homegrown deal will surely be on the table for him soon.

Our runner-up is a player who earned himself a pro deal for his exploits, just sadly not with the Whitecaps. U19 striker Jose Hernandez put away 22 goals in 33 appearances, 25 of them starts. That play earned him his first pro deal, signing with CPL side Pacific FC for their inaugural season.

2018 winner: Theo Bair
2017 winner: Jose Hernandez
2016 winner: Alan Camacho

(new award in 2016)

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WHITECAPS GOAL OF THE SEASON

WINNER: ALI ADNAN v FC DALLAS (25/05/19 – 2-1 home win) – This will no doubt be a somewhat contentious winner to some, but for me Ali Adnan’s fantastic strike against Dallas in May was the best Whitecaps goal of 2019, not just in terms of the sublime finish, but the build up to the goal and the way Adnan just ran between two Dallas defenders as if they weren’t even there. Everything about that goal was fantastic.

Theo Bair’s first ever MLS goal, his stunner in Portland, was a very, very close second, with Derek Cornelius’ stoppage time volley in Kansas City third. Bair’s goal obviously had the wow factor but for me, Adnan’s had it all.

2018 winner: Alphonso Davies v Minnesota United (29/07/18)
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: 4-3 AWAY WIN v LA GALAXY (29/09/19) – Everyone loves a late winner and we had one in this category as the ‘Caps headed south to California in their penultimate game of the season and put in arguably their best team performance of the year to come away with a stunning 4-3 win over the Galaxy, severely denting their playoff positioning in the process.

The sheer unexpectedness of the victory was one thing, but it was also deserved, with four different scorers, three of them Canadian, and a 93rd minute winner from Michaell Chirinos. What a win!

2018 winner: v Portland Timbers (11/08/18 – 2-1 Timbers unbeaten streak breaking win)
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: MAX CREPEAU’S TRIPLE SAVE v ATLANTA (15/05/19 – BC Place) – This is likely the closest the Whitecaps will come to a treble in MLS. Individually, Crepeau had way better saves over the season than any of these three on their own, but collectively, the triple save combination he pulled out against Atlanta was an indication of just how switched on he is as a ‘keeper. His positioning and awareness were excellent, and the saves weren’t too shabby. We could have gone for an individual one, but in this case we’ll go with the combo for the win, well it was a loss in the actual game but you know what we mean!

2018 winner: Stefan Marinovic v NYRB (18/08/18 – 2-2 home draw, MLS)
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 2020

WINNER: JASSER KHMIRI – Is this award a poisoned chalice? Apart from Alphonso’s win in 2016, none of the previous winners have risen up meet the expectations while remaining as a Whitecap. David Norman won it the last two years and he’s now been shipped off to Inter Miami via Pacific FC without ever making the breakthrough he was capable of making, for a multitude of reasons.

We feel it’s going to be different this year though! This time we haven’t gone for a homegrown prospect, instead handing the award to 22-year-old Tunisian centre back Jasser Khmiri.

It’s been a personal season to forget for Khmiri, who struggled to recover from an initially unsuccessful meniscus surgery in time to make any impact with his new team this year. He played one match in LA in the ‘Caps penultimate game of the season, making a staggering 19 clearances and looking good back there. Unfortunately he picked up a quad strain for his efforts after being out for more than a year, and sat out the season closer against RSL as a precaution. But I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him in training. He’s a tough tackling, no nonsense defender, and gives MDS some interesting formations to look at next season. I feel/hope he’s going to be a standout and this defence badly needs that.

2018 winner: David Norman
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: GIANFRANCO FACCHINERI (CANADA U17) – Slim pickings to ponder in this one, not helped by Canada’s flop at the Gold Cup. So we’re going down to youth level this year to find out winner and another top Whitecaps prospect – Gianfranco Facchineri. The 17-year-old centre back had an excellent CONCACAF U17 Championship, captaining the side, and hitting home the winning penalty in the shootout against Costa Rica to secure Canada’s spot at this month’s FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil.

2018 winner: Kendall Waston (Costa Rica)
2017 winner: Kendall Waston (Costa Rica)
2016 winner: Blas Perez (Panama)
2015 winner: Darren Mattocks (Jamaica)

(new award in 2015)

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

WINNER: JOAQUIN ARDAIZ (No one game, just in general!) – The signing of Ardaiz was always going to be a gamble. A player that had promised so much in his younger days, but was on something of a steady decline in his career. Could MDS stop that and turn him back around? Sadly, no.

When you come in as a DP, young or not, more will always be expected of you and Ardaiz simply failed to deliver. For that reason he is the ‘Miss of the Year’ in general, and not just in one game as we usually do (we had Ali Adnan’s penalty miss penciled in initially but were swayed to this, and Ardaiz did have some glorious squandered chances in his own right).

He only made 16 MLS appearances, just three of those starts, and didn’t feature in the first team for the last two months of the season. No goals, no assists, got into some excellent positions, but couldn’t finish a toffee. He didn’t even help me solve any crimes either. Still, nice tattoos. I really wish it had worked out as he looked such a badass, but at least thankfully this was only a loan deal.

2018 winner: Brek Shea (v Houston 11/05/18)
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: DONEIL HENRY ON DIEGO VALERI (v PORTLAND TIMBERS AT BC PLACE – 10/05/19) – At some point before a Whitecaps v Timbers match every season I mention to someone that the ‘Caps tactics should be to nail Diego Valeri early. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it happens later in the game. Either way, I love to see it and I guess we may not be getting the chance for too much longer. This cracker from Doneil Henry in the 1-0 home win over the Timbers in May is fantastic. Hard, clean, no card. It’s what you want to see. Or it’s what I want. And a hat tip to B&G Media for reminding us of this!

2018 winner: Aly Ghazal (Home v Dallas 23/09/18)
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 2019 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

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Avatar
    Geoff Flamank at 10:19

    Michael, I thought I’d share a letter I wrote this morning to the Whitecaps about the season to Fan Relations. Cheers “Geoff in T-Town”.

    —-
    Hi there,

    I feel the need to share my thoughts on the Whitecaps as 7-year season ticket holders. My son and I have enthusiastically supported this club for the past years, sharing our great enjoyment for the whole experience with friends and promoting the Whitecaps as a terrific value. We looked forward to receiving the Season Ticket Holder package every Spring and eagerly awaited the First Kick. These past two years have been very disappointing, so much so that we had to think very hard about renewing our season tickets.

    Things we’ve loved over the years:
    • the atmosphere of fans and supporters
    • the chanting of “wanker” and the reciting of lineups and the shouting out the goal scorer’s name, the response “You’re Welcome!”
    • seeing the returning season ticket holders in our section every year and sharing our pain and our joys
    • the ease of getting into the stadium and to our seats
    • Marie Hui and other National Anthem singers
    • Singing White is the Colour
    • That 5-0 playoff victory over San Jose (seems like a lifetime ago)
    • Alphonso Davie, Waston, Laba, Parker, Pedro, Jordan Harvey, Kai Kamara and others
    • Looking forward to new tweaks to the lineup each year and finding optimism
    • Maxime Crepeau’s wonderful year
    • Marc Dos Santos’ deep commitment and heart for this team

    Things that have taken away our enthusiasm:
    • who are we supporting when the players are a constant revolving door? Russel Teibert has been a loyal foot soldier but that’s all that is remaining and it isn’t enough
    • the torturous kick-and-chase style with little or no offensive creativity
    • the ridiculously low number of playoff games
    • this past year’s gut wrenching performance and record
    • the obvious rapid decline in attendance and lack of anything to get the crowd excited
    • the Sounders playoff game where we parked the bus and basically gave up
    • Robbo’s decline and obvious disinterest in being with the club
    • the end of the year soap opera of players being unhappy with the team makeup
    • the sad series of events relating to Ciara McCormack and the drudgingly slow response by the Front Office
    • whether true or not, it was perceived that the club was taking its loyal supporters for granted
    • most importantly to me, I did not feel like coming to the games anymore. That killed me and I know I was not alone.
    • we had made several road trips to Seattle and Portland but couldn’t find the heart to do that again this year. That makes me sad.
    • this year’s ridiculous roster assembly and how woefully unsuccessful any of the moves have been
    • I kept hearing that this was a process but no where were we informed as to what this process actually was.
    • The Alphonso Money? I accept that finding talented players is challenging but other teams have done this.
    • We finished LAST with a boring style of play and an unclear roadmap as to what we can expect for next year.

    We have renewed our season tickets for next year but it was not an easy decision. We desperately want to support this team but we feel a little like battered people in a relationship. Who do we support??? The players? They keep changing every year. Other than Bobby leaving, the Front Office is still relatively unchanged and it just feels like there is still a deep perception that the pain of all of this failure doesn’t cut deep enough in the ownership and management of this team. Failure and mediocrity appear to be acceptable. MDS has been excellent from a spiritual standpoint but his first year, for various reasonable reasons, was a tire fire of failure beyond all acceptable re-build expectations.

    I get choked up writing this as I have been such a loyal supporter and it feels like a great joy in my life is leaving. Nothing short of making the playoffs in 2020 – or even a decent run at the playoffs – will save our season tickets.

    Please fix this – NOW! Get some talent, somehow. Be winners!

    Regards,
    Geoff and John Flamank
    Section 246

  2. Avatar
    David Kent at 05:15

    I suppose we must carry on, I feel MDS has done a good job and his honestly and clear direction have been a breath of fresh air, however I don’t feel the same alliance to the upper management and really wonder what is there path is,i have enjoyed both Cory and Collin on 1040, but generally have found other coverage badly lacking, Have found both Michael and Steve to be most interesting on AFTN

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