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Sean Franklin named MLS Rookie of the Year


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You might ask yourself how a defender on the absolute worse defense in Major League Soccer can win an award. While that is a valid question what you should ask yourself is just how good does a defender have to be to get noticed playing on the nightmare that was the 2008 LA Galaxy defense.

Sean Franklin was that good. A rookie who spent much of the year covering for the mistakes and deficiencies of the players around him, Franklin showed that he has all the tools to become a standout defender for years to come. He was impressive enough to earn a look from U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley earlier this week, and he impressed enough to win 2008 MLS rookie of the year.

Franklin beat out New England’s Kheli Dube and Houston’s Geoff Cameron for the award in what has to be described as an extremely weak year for rookies. That’s not a knock on Franklin, but rather on a rookie class sorely lacking in impact players.

Franklin certainly looks like just that, and it will be interesting to see how good he looks once he goes back to his natural position of right back after spending much of the year in central defense.

What do you think of Franklin winning MLS rookie of the year? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Harden showed potential in 2007, but made a lot of mistakes.

    Franklin looked like a veteran in his rookie season. The amazing thing was that he was forced to play out of position in the middle. He is going to be even better on the right whenever the Galaxy get a Centre Back and figure out that Chris Klein is not a defender.

  2. ” … Ty Hardin (who was honestly, LA’s MVP in 2007) … ”

    L.A.’s true MVP in 2007 was Landon Donovan. Nobody else close, no matter what the team said (gave it to Chris Klein). Donovan should have been Best XI in ’07.

  3. Dube did not lose because he was supplemental draft. League could care less where the rookies came from.

    Dube was not robbed. He was very good in his first month or so, outstanding really, but as teams learned his tendencies they started to stop him. Then he was hurt. When he returned he wasn’t nearly the player he had been.

    Cameron was very good but made his biggest impact in non-MLS games.

    Franklin’s a most deserving winner, and perhaps Braun should have been runner-up.

  4. Sad thing is that LA’s defense could have been something having two young guys like Franklin and Ty Hardin (who was honestly, LA’s MVP in 2007) in the back. What could have been, turned into a nightmare for LA.

  5. The people who criticize Franklin most likely never saw him play week in and week out. His technical skills are phenomenal. The fans started to call him “the Eraser” cause he erased the mistakes that his teammantes made. This is no soft choice. Franklin is a real star of the MLS.

  6. @sawatsky

    I think you’re completely wrong. I also agree with Jeph that likely the league had issues with giving rookie of the year to a player who went in the Supplemental Draft because it would be an indictment of the SuperDraft and the league’s process of inviting players to attend the combine.

    Dube scored 4 goals and tallied 4 assists in 21 games, 13 of which he started. If he played in 2/3rds of NE’s games, he must have earned playing time against the Cristman and Mansally both of whom are young and promising strikers.

    Despite your derision for Cristman, a player doesn’t stumble into 6 goals. Give credit where credit is due.

    Franklin, playing in position or not, was part of a defense that let in on avg. 2 goals per game and only generated 2 clean sheets all season, both of which came against the Earthquakes in the first half when they were atrocious. So why was Franklin rookie of the year, because he played 27 games and started 26? On a team with a defense so bad and so slow that the coaches had no better option? Did Franklin really do something special? No.

    I reiterate, Kheli Dube got ROBBED. Shame on you MLS.

  7. I can live with Sean Franklin getting the Rookie of the Year but if Donovan gets the MVP as a parting gift on a team that didn’t make the playoffs these awards are a total joke.

  8. Congratulations to SEAN FRANKLIN!!!! He is a hard working athlete who was a shining star in the dull back line of the LA galaxy. He put is heart and soul out on the field every game and it showed in his play. He is well deserving of this award. Congratulations as well to the other nominees on the success they had this season.

  9. weak draft classes are actually a sign of growing maturity of the league, players and the entire system in the US. soccer is more like baseball than basketball in the potential impact of rookies, when played well. teams are no longer looking for the 22 year old out of college who will contribute this year, they are looking at the 18-19 year old who needs some seasoning, but has a much bigger upside. Teams can afford to wait, more then ever, for two-three years while players develop (thank Columbus, Houston and New England for establishing that model)

  10. I think there were a fair few rookies who looked good in the games they played, but just didn’t play enough to get a nomination, so it certainly looks worse than it was.

    I liked Nyarko, Iro, Beltran, Leathers, Espinoza and Sassano too.

  11. Quoting sawatasky:

    “Best of 2008 SuperDraft

    GK – D. Cervi, B. Edwards

    D – S. Franklin, J. Leathers, T. Beltran, B. Shea, A. Iro

    M – G. Cameron, P. Phelan, R. Espinoza, S. Salinas, E. Avila, B. McDonald, L. Sassano

    F – K. Dube, P. Nyarko”

    The problem is that Kheli Dube didn’t go in the SuperDraft but in the Supplemental. Its just my opinion but I think it might have been embarrassing for the league to give ROY to a guy that went completely unpicked in the premier process where their young talent is supposed to come through…

  12. Perhaps too early to determine quality of the 08 SuperDraft. For comparison anyways:

    Best of 2006 SuperDraft:

    GK – R. Burse

    D – M. Wynne, T. Wahl, N. Sturgis, M. Burch, J. Bornstein

    M – S. Kljestan, D. McCarty, M. Ballouchy

    F- J. Altidore, Y. Movsyssian, K. Kamara, D. Oduro

    Best of 2007 SuperDraft:

    GK – C. Seitz, T. Hall, L. Robles

    D – B. Soumare, B. Burling, A. Wallace, M. Harrington

    M – M. Edu, D. Richards, N. LaBrocca, B. Arguez, C. Ashe

    F – O. Cummings, A. Cristman, R. Findley, A. Ibrahim, B. Evans

    Best of 2008 SuperDraft:

    GK – D. Cervi, B. Edwards

    D – S. Franklin, J. Leathers, T. Beltran, B. Shea, A. Iro

    M – G. Cameron, P. Phelan, R. Espinoza, S. Salinas, E. Avila, B. McDonald, L. Sassano

    F – K. Dube, P. Nyarko

  13. How about a shoutout for Geoff Cameron? I suspect most readers of this blog have little insight into his performance this year because most of his PT came in SuperLiga and Champions’ League. Had he been given the playing time in MLS that he had in those tournaments he might have achieved similar results.

    For those who don’t know, Cameron played right midfield, forward, and central defense for the Dynamo (talk about versatile). He never looked like a dangerous player but on the attack he consistently got past his marker and put in a good cross, and on defense he looked remarkably composed. I’m not saying he should have won ROY because based on his MLS play he didn’t deserve it. I’m just saying his rookie campaign was excellent and he bears watching in the future. I kept hoping in the Houston loss to RBNY that Kinnear would sub him in for Mullan, but alas Kinnear needed more than 3 subs to fix what was wrong that day 🙁

  14. Congrats to Franklin. Nice to have positive news in LA LA land. I concur, thanks, CAC, a team conceding goals doesn’t logically lead to Franklin’s ROTY being undeserved.

  15. re Dube:

    “Dube on the other hand contributed a number of goals and assists on a team that has a good and crowded young striker corp.”

    Not so much, Eugene. Twellman was injured for most of the year and only ended up making 12 starts. Cristman became a starter by default and managed to stumble into 6 goals in 16 starts before he was lost with a season-ending injury for the second half. K. Smith and Nyassi both attack well but are more wingers than strikers. That really only left Dube and Mansally, so it not surprising that they each made a fair number of starts (13 for Dube, 11 for Mansally).

    So, while it’s true that Dube produced well in the opportunities he was given, it not as if he beat out a pool of other great options.

    Dube as ROY can be justified, but I think it’s a big stretch to say he was robbed.

  16. Thanks for the defense Kaiser, and just to clarify, I wasn’t saying it will be one of the best or that it isn’t weak. It is not a great class. I just don’t think that it will go down as an historically weak class overall when it is looked back on.

  17. <>

    With all due respect, RSL fan obviously hasn’t watched some of these guys play. To say Julius James made meaningful contributions in Toronto is absurd. He was a freakin’ nightmare every time he stepped on the pitch. No positional sense, poor tackling, terrible marking. Witness one of his few starts, in New England, where he was the only defender in the box anywhere near Taylor Twellman’s free header for a goal….and watches the ball sail over his head instead of closing down the player.

    He’s a great natural athlete but truly unready for this level. In fact, he’s so far off the pace I have to seriously doubt whether he can play professionally as a central defender.

  18. RSL Fan got it right. This year didn’t have ton of standouts, but it did have some good young players that should contribute for years to come. Nyarko in Chicago, Iro in Columbus, JJ up in Toronto, and several others will be quality players in MLS. They just didn’t get much playing time this year.

    We can say its a weak class now, but I think we will find it to be a pretty good one in the future.

  19. The scary thing is the kid played out of position most of the time. I hope to see him in a Nats jersey for years to come.

  20. HEY IVES, You know there’s a conference final today right? Is there going to be a preview? Or are you still catching your breath from the NYRB win?

  21. It’s kind of a further indictment of Ruud Gullit. He didn’t pay much attention at the scouting combine and didn’t attend the draft, but their best defender came through there.

  22. Rookie of the year is for individual effort, not team (or back line) effort. Franklin was a rock in the back, playing out of position. He saved us from letting in even more goals. Why should he be punished (aka not win ROTY) for the failure of other players? Bob Bradley took notice of his skill and called him into the national team camp. Sean Franklin deserves this award.

  23. Extremely weak class.

    Even so, this is BS. Kheli Dube should have gotten the award easily. Franklin may have had a lot of playing time, but his team gave up a ridiculous number of goals. That kind of indicates that there is no basis to really judge him as a “stand-out” performer.

    Dube on the other hand contributed a number of goals and assists on a team that has a good and crowded young striker corp.

    Kheli Dube got ROBBED.

    Franklin winning just makes MLS awards that much more of a JOKE.

  24. Here’s the Galaxy’s first real test… will they trade away their young talent to bring in more experienced defenders, or whether they keep their young guy and try to build a support system around him.

  25. SF is the best DEF ever drafted by LA and the best in the league since EDDIE POPE .. .. And, he is that good .. ..

    He held his own in the middle and proved that he was also our best left-back .. ..

    His youth coach said he is the fastest player in MLS, which he wasn’t able to prove playing in the middle .. ..

    We best enjoy him now, because when he nails down the right-back spot at the 2010 WC, he’ll be leaving MLS for greener ($$$) pastures!!

  26. One more thing…

    I think this draft class didn’t look quite as strong as it might in the future because of so many players drafted for the future (Shea, Lambo, Nimo, Beltran) and some of the better talents being further down on depth charts because the league as a whole is slowly gaining more depth. (Nyarko, Iro)

    Overall there were a lot of solid contributors just not any stars players Lenhart, Leathers, Sassano, James, McDonald, Espinoza, Phelan, Tierney, Nunez, Edwards, and King may not have been standout rookies, but certainly made meaningful contributions at different times they got minutes during the season.

  27. It would have been interesting to see how Tony Beltran would have faired had Ian Joy not been able to recover from injury. He was playing very well in his starts with the first squad, minus the own goal versus KC.


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