Major League Soccer announced the finalists for its year-end awards tonight, and Sebastien Le Toux was not among the three finalists for Most Valuable Player. The finalists were Los Angeles Galaxy forward Edson Buddle, FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira and San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski.
You would have to think that Wondolowski is the favorite, followed by Buddle. I happen to think that Buddle is less "valuable" than Wondolowski, but if I were voting for a Most Outstanding Player prize Buddle would be in the mix.
I'd pick Wondolowski for that kind of prize, though, and he'll get my vote in the North American Soccer Reporters' Player of the Year balloting. The NASR is a writers' organization that votes on the official Player of the Week and Player of the Month awards. It has its own Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards.
There is some significant consolation for Union fans, as Danny Mwanga is a finalist for Rookie of the Year. It's no surprise that his competitors for the award are D.C. United midfielder Andy Najar and New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream.
I voted for Najar. I thought hard about it, but Najar has played more minutes and more games than Mwanga. In addition, Mwanga hasn't recorded a goal or an assist since September 4, and he's only played 90 minutes once since then.
Najar scored two goals in mid-September, and has played 88 minutes or more in every game but one since Jume 5. So maybe you can put it on Peter Nowak for not playing Mwanga as much, but I think Najar has been more consistent through the season.
As for Coach of the Year, I voted for New York's Hans Backe. Yes, the Red Bulls are loaded with talent, but the franchise in America's biggest market was a joke for many years. Now it is a serious club that plays serious soccer, and Backe has played a major role in that change.
Voting for MLS MVP and the rest of the league's official end-of-season awards is done through the league's website. The pool of voters includes players, general managers, coaches, referees and members of the media.
Here are all the award finalists. The schedule of when the winners are announced is here, as published in the Daily News this morning.
Most Valuable Player: Edson Buddle, Los Angeles Galaxy; David Ferreira, FC Dallas; Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes
Rookie of the Year: Danny Mwanga, Philadelphia Union; Andy Najar, D.C. United; Tim Ream, New York Red Bulls
Coach of the Year: Hans Backe, New York Red Bulls; Schellas Hyndman, FC Dallas; Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake
Defender of the Year: Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake; Omar Gonzalez, Los Angeles Galaxy; Jamison Olave, Real Salt Lake
Goalkeeper of the Year: Kevin Hartman, FC Dallas; Donovan Ricketts, Los Angeles Galaxy; Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
Newcomer of the Year: Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls: Joel Lindpere, New York Red Bulls; Alvaro Saborio, Real Salt Lake
Comeback Player of the Year: Chris Albright, New York Red Bulls; Bobby Convey, San Jose Earthquakes; Brek Shea, FC Dallas
Fair Play Award: C.J. Brown, Chicago Fire; Sebastien Le Toux, Philadelphia Union; Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes
Referee of the Year: Mark Geiger; Kevin Stott; Baldomero Toledo
Humanitarian of the Year: Brian Ching, Houston Dynamo; Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City Wizards; Seth Stammler, New York Red Bulls
Here are some quotes from Le Toux and Mwanga, courtesy of Daily News soccer writer Kerith Gabriel:
On being considered for Rookie of the Year:
When you do good, people are going to talk about you. It’s a given, but I try not to let it get to my head. I just want to play my game, and whatever happens at the end, whether I get it or I don’t get it, I still want to be in a position at the end of the season where I feel like I did everything I could to make my team better.
On whether he'd play for the U.S. national team if the opportunity comes:
That’s another tough question. I’d have to think about it. I have to talk to my family and really decide what is the best option, especially because I am considering playing for the US team as well [as Congo]. It puts me in a hard situation, but it’s a good situation to be in.
I was born in the Congo and grew up there and a lot of people back home know that I am doing good, and want to see me play for the national team. But at the same time, I moved here, went to school here and had so many more opportunities here. To me, this is like my new home.
Sebastien Le Toux
On being the running for MVP:
It’s an honor just to be considered, but it’s not something I think about. For me I just want to help my team win and help my teammates get better.
On moving to Philadelphia from Seattle:
Seattle was great, but here my opportunity to grow and get better as a player really has helped my career. It was a long year, but I think we have grown a lot as a team. I am already looking forward to next season, because I think now that we know what to expect, we are going to be a lot more consistent - which will only make us better.