Mount Royal Soccer 2012 MLS awards voting

Steve Dykes

The 2012 MLS Awards ballot is out for the media and Mount Royal Soccer's Sofiane Benzaza shares his secret vote ballots, not so secret to be honest.

It is an expansion season for the Montreal Impact but also for Mount Royal Soccer. The MLS sent out invitations to vote online for the 2012 MLS awards. The media portion of the voting is one portion among three, with the players and clubs also giving their inputs in the winner of awards.

I am not perfect and neither will be my voting to the eye of the beholder :-)

* * *

2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP

1st Choice: Chris Wondolowski 2nd Choice: Graham Zusi

The San Jose Earthquakes could have been a reknowned polish international striker and I would have believed you. The US International was chasing Roy Lassiter goal-scoring record of 26 goals and he tied it. A real scoring machine and in the typical mold of the defunct old-school striker role, '' Wondo '' is not the sexiest player to watch but is smart and knows stealth positioning by heart.

Graham Zusi probably became one of my favorites MLS players. The technical, smart offensive midfielder has that offensive midfielder/distributor profile that really makes him dangerous. With excellent crosses and a precise shot, he is one of the pillars of Sporting Kansas City and most probably the US National team.

* * *

Defender of the Year

1st Choice: Matteo Ferrari 2nd Choice: Jamison Olave

Was I influenced by watching all of Matteo Ferrari's game at Stade Saputo and/or TV? most probably. The 32-year Italian defender became the rock of the Montreal Impact defense, an expansion club. He played alongside Tyson Wahl, Hassoun Camara, Alessandro Nesta and more and still managed to hold the ship. We all know the struggles of any defense when a chemistry is not set over a few games. Ferrari did not enjoy playing with highly experienced MLS defenders before Nesta coming and he had heavy legs from a previous Serie A season.

Jamison Olave is just a monster in the backline and mixes up physical play, positioning and a good first pass. Playing in an excellent Real Salt Lake team, Olave could have been my 1st choice but Ferrari was in the list.

* * *

Comeback Player of the Year

1st Choice: Javier Morales 2nd Choice: Troy Perkins

Javier Morales is an excellent midfielder with RSL and his unfortunate fracture-dislocation on his left ankle put him out for 4 1/2 months in May 2011. The 32-year old Argentinean overcame the challenge to coming back from an injury and really played well throughout the season.

With a difficult expected first season with expansion club in 2011, the Portland Timbers, Perkins has had a break in 2012. Whether it was badly managed expectations within the club or bad coaching/managing , the Ohio native did not enjoy what was happening in Portland. Having committed with the club and G. Wilkinson taking over the team (after firing John Spencer), Perkins' trade to the Montreal Impact was a blessing in the sky for both.

* * *

Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year

1st Choice: Andy Gruenebaum 2nd Choice: Nick Rimando

The Columbus Crew goalkeeper should be his team's MVP after saving his team in a bad patch for the club. With the arrival of Arrieta and Higuain, Gruenebaum's work was ever more noticed with the Crew going for a playoff run. Not making the playoffs should still make him a strong candidate for best GK in MLS in 2012.

If it was not for Gruenebaum's excellent season, I still think that Rimando would have been a shoe-in. He is able to prevent plays from happening with pre-emptive defensive ''strikes'' and compensating his height (5'10) with great reflexes and good sense of his goal posts.

* * *

Newcomer of the Year

1st Choice: Felipe Martins 2nd Choice: Saer Sene

No one should call me a homer in the choice of Felipe Martins as the MLS Newcomer of the Year. The 22-year old was probably the most unknown player when the squad took shape. The pre-season game against the Houston Dynamo in Florida opened my eyes and he became the potential best player in the team. He became essential to the team when he was pushed up a notch as full-time offensive midfielder.

Saer Sane is a close second and would have been beaten out Felipe if the Revolution made the playoffs (but that was never going to happen). The French-striker really showed versatility and skills as a striker and ''winger''.

* * *

Rookie of the Year

1st Choice: Austin Berry 2nd Choice: Darren Mattocks

(Honorable mention to Luis Silva)


Andrew Wenger showed skills and talent to be considered but school until May, mid-season injury and the system played did not give him the playing time he needed.

* * *

MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year

1st Choice: Patrice Bernier 2nd Choice: Kei Kamara

* * *

Coach of the Year

1st Choice: Peter Vermes 2nd Choice: Frank Yallop

Yes Frank Yallop should win it by default but Peter Vermes' team has been so constant in their style of play and true to its philosophy. I will fall in love with a team that use offensive full backs as a standard way of playing. I suppose I prefer powder blue to dark navy blue but Sporting KC has impressed me in the 3 games the Montreal Impact played the Midwest MLS club.

* * *

Referee of the Year

1st Choice: Silviu Petrescu 2nd Choice: Ian Anderson

I will not lie to you and say that I actually graded referees and remember every performance. I just did not see both these names mentioned in controversial calls. Though, Petrescu left a good impression on his style of refereeing during the 1-1 of the Impact at D.C.

* * *

Best XIs

Andy Gruenebaum

Matteo Ferrari -- Corey Ashe -- Chance Myers

Felipe Martins -- Graham Zusi -- Landon Donovan -- Javier Morales

Eddie Johnson -- Chris Wondolowski -- Fredy Montero

What do you think of the votes and share your choices in the comments below.

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