By RYAN TOLMICH
When taking a look at the 2013 standings, it’s hard to imagine D.C. United becoming any sort of threat in the always-competitive Eastern Conference. After tying the MLS record for lowest win total in a season with just three, few could have ever seen Ben Olsen’s D.C. United as any sort of contender in 2014.
But yet, here they are, less than one year removed from one of the worst campaigns in MLS history, sitting right near the top of the conference. Olsen and co. have gone from laughing stock to Supporters’ Shield challengers, just two points behind last year’s MLS Cup champions, Sporting KC.
Chosen as SBI Mid-Season Coach of the Year by the SBI editorial staff, Olsen beat out a field that included Real Salt Lake’s Jeff Cassar, FC Dallas’ Oscar Pareja and Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes.
Here is a closer look at the Mid-Season Coach of the Year finalists, as well as your chance to vote for the award:
SBI MLS MID-SEASON COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
1. BEN OLSEN
With big money signing Eddie Johnson yet to find his rhythm in D.C., Olsen has built the team around one of the league’s strongest defenses and could be on his way to leading the club to one of the biggest turnarounds in league history.
2. JEFF CASSAR
Real Salt Lake haven’t missed a beat after the departure of former head coach Jason Kreis. Cassar has made the transition a successful one by living up to RSL’s standards of excellence.
3. OSCAR PAREJA
Pareja’s transition to FC Dallas has been seamless. After joining the club in January, Pareja and FC Dallas are in contention to make the team’s first playoff appearance since 2011.
4. PETER VERMES
Despite the absences of cornerstones Graham Zusi and Matt Besler during the World Cup, Vermes and Sporting KC have avoided the post-MLS Cup hangover. The reigning champions sit top of the Eastern Conference and are in contention for the club’s first Supporters’ Shield since 2000.
5. PABLO MASTROENI
The former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder has hit the ground running with his first head coaching gig. The Colorado Rapids currently find themselves in contention for a playoff spot among the Western Conference’s elite.
Now it’s your turn to cast your vote for MLS Mid-Season MVP:
Who did you vote for? Who do you think should have made the ballot that didn’t?
Share your thoughts below.