MLS today announced the finalists for this year's end of season awards. Two Sporting KC players are among the finalists for awards this year. Benny Feilhaber and Tim Melia are the two representatives from KC that could bring home individual hardware this year.
Feilhaber is up for the big award, MVP, where he is up against Sebastian Giovinco and former KC forward, Kei Kamara. Feilhaber finished the season with 10 goals and 15 assists in league play, the first player in KC history to hit double digits in goals and assists since Josh Wolff scored 10 and had 10 assists in the 2005 season. It's difficult to see Feilhaber winning the award though after the season that Giovinco had, leading the league in both goals (22), and assists (16). It's more a battle to see who finishes second between Feilhaber and Kamara (22 goals, 8 assists) as Giovinco really should be the run away winner here.
The other award is Comeback Player of the Year, which Melia is up for. Melia had been a league goalkeeper last year after being released by Chivas USA. Sporting KC had brought him in with their rotating goalkeeping issues during the 2014 season. After waiving Andy Gruenebaum and Eric Kronberg after the season KC signed Melia to be the primary back up for new goalkeeper, Luis Marin. After Marin failed to adapt quickly to the style of play in MLS, Melia stepped in and made the goalkeeping position his own. Melia finished the season with an 11-8-4 record as a starter, and recording eight shutouts and a 1.22 goals against average. Melia is up against Will Trapp of the Columbus Crew, who overcame concussion issues earlier this season to appear in 19 games and record three assists while helping hold down the Crew midfield. Melia is also up against Portland Timbers midfielder, Diego Valeri who returned from an ACL tear in October of last year to play 22 games, scoring two goals and adding eight assists. This one will be a closer race than MVP, but I think Valeri is going to pull this award.
When the award nominations come out there were a couple awards where KC fans thought Sporting players should have gotten a nod. Many felt Melia deserved to be in the conversation for goalkeeper of the year, where Bill Hamid, David Ousted, and Luis Robles are the three players up for the award. While Melia has had a very good season, KC's two shutouts since July 13th probably did not help Melia's case in this instance.
The other player many thought should have been nominated for an award was Krisztian Nemeth for the league's Newcomer of the Year award. Giovinco is up for this award like with MVP, so his inclusion on this list is no surprise. While Didier Drogba didn't join the Montreal Impact until late this season it is hard to argue about his contribution to the Impact since then with his 11 goals and one assist in only 870 minutes. The third nominee, Mike Grella is probably the one KC fans could point to as someone that could be replaced by Nemeth. In five fewer games than Grella, Nemeth produced one more goal (10) and only one fewer assists (6) than Grella did. On the opposite side of that though it is hard to argue with a player who played in 33 of 34 games and started 30 for the Supporters' Shield winners.