MLS announced the finalists for their year end awards today, and Sporting KC is well represented among the finalists, as 5 players and head coach Peter Vermes are up for awards.
Graham Zusi is a finalist for MVP this year, along with Chris Wondolowski of San Jose and Thierry Henry of New York. Unfortunately for Zusi I don't think this will be much of a contest, Wondolowski should win the award going away for the season he had. Zusi is a completely deserving finalist for his 5 goals and 15 assists in league play this year. Henry is really only on the list because of name recognition of people that vote but don't really pay attention to the league. The MVP award will be announced on November 29th.
Jimmy Nielsen is a finalist for goalkeeper of the year. Sporting's captain finished one shutout short of tying the league record set by Tony Meola in 2000 of 16. Nielsen is up against Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and Chivas USA's Dan Kennedy. Gspurning missed a good portion of the season due to injury which hurts his case for the award. And while Kennedy had an amazing season, it wasn't enough to keep Chivas from looking extremely poor this year. Nielsen finished with a .79 goals against average, behind Gspurning's, but Nielsen has played 10 more games than the Seattle net minder. Really this should be Nielsen's award. Goalkeeper of the year is announced on November 28th.
Peter Vermes is a finalist for coach of the year. Leading Sporting KC to a team record in wins (18) and points (63) in a season and to the team finishing on top of the East for the second straight year. Vermes is up against Frank Yallop who led the Supporter Shield winning San Jose side that finished 3 points ahead of KC in the standings, and Ben Olsen who has helped to resurrect DC United finishing second in the East and into the playoffs for the first time in 5 years. The winner is announced on November 27th.
Kei Kamara is a finalist for Humanitarian of the year. Kamara has done a ton of work in the past year to help his home country, Sierra Leone. He's helped with getting schools built and has set up the HearShapedHands Foundation. Kamara is up against Michael Lahoud of the Union who has also done work to help Sierra Leone, and Chris Seitz, who recently missed a good number of games after giving bone marrow. The winner will be announced on the 20th.
The final award that KC has players up for may be the most interesting. KC has two finalists up for the defender of the year award. Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin are both finalists along with Victor Bernardez of San Jose. Besler and Collin helped to anchor the league's best defense this year. Besler started 30 of the 31 games he played while Collin started 28 of the 29 he played in. The one worry I have about this award is that voters may split their vote between Besler and Collin, leading to Bernardez winning the award instead. While Collin had a decent season, this award really should go to Besler who has had a fantastic season, really establishing himself as one of the league's better defenders and pushed himself onto the national team radar. The winner will be announced on the 20th.
As a whole I think KC has a very good shot at winning 3 of the 5 awards, the two exceptions being MVP which I think will go to Wondolowski and coach, which I think Yallop will win this year. The other 3 I think KC can and should win, the one worry again is the defender of the year vote being split between the two.