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Omar Gonzalez named MLS Rookie of the Year

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Los Angeles Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez was named the winner of the 2009 Rookie of the Year Award on Thursday, beating out Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei and D.C. United forward Chris Pontius for the honors.

Gonzalez started all 30 matches for a Galaxy defense that went from worst in MLS to one of the best in the league. The No. 3 pick in the 2009 MLS Draft, Gonzalez partnered with veteran Gregg Berhalter to give LA a steady centerback pairing that anchored the Galaxy's stingy defense.

Gonzalez is the second straight Galaxy player to win the award. Sean Franklin was MLS rookie of the year in 2008.

What do you think of Gonzalez being named Rookie of the Year? Think he was the clear-cut winner? Did you vote for somebody else?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. KO’d–we’ll just have to disagree on your position that Gonzalez deserves ROY b/c he scored 1 goal and took 14 shots. I think that if AJ Delagarza had been forced to play centerback (say….if Gonzalez had torn an ACL in game 1), I believe that the LAG’s overall defensive stats (and offensive stats too for that matter) would have been pretty much the same. Gonzalez is clearly stronger in the air, also slower than delaGarza. To argue that Gonzalez had more impact on his team seems a bit confounding to me when one can argue that he could have been replaced by another rookie on the team without too much of a disaster ensuing. Not so with Barnes. Or Alston. Or Cronin. Or Frei. Or Pontius.

    Again, Gonzalez is a fine player. But as ROY he’s a “safe” choice. I think 4 years from now, we’ll see Cronin, Pontius, Aston (and Frei probably with Switzerland) as internationals getting lots of caps. I don’t think we’ll see that with Gonzalez. I think Franklin with probably have more caps than Omar.

  2. @JoeW:

    “1. The attempt to argue that Gonzalez is clearly a better defender than Barnes was a weak one. Yeah, Barnes didn’t score (but Gonzalez had….one? And a few more shots?).”

    I couldn’t disagree more. Gonzalez had 1 goal, 1 assist, 14 shots, and 4 shots on goal. Barnes had NONE. No goals, no assists, no shots, and obviously no shots on goal. Gonzalez, by those statistics, had a greater impact on his team. And, he had a greater impact on a team that was better than Barnes’s team. We can argue the qualitative factors all day, but the quantitative factors pretty clearly favor Gonzalez.

  3. Completely agree… With that list of previous rookie of the year players someone mentioned earlier that had gone on to play for the nats, franklin and omar should def have a legitimate shot. Also as a G’s fan DeLaGarza needs a shout! Couldnt have done it without both of them! I hope bruce can find a way to have DLG Franklin and Omar all on the backline.

  4. 1. The attempt to argue that Gonzalez is clearly a better defender than Barnes was a weak one. Yeah, Barnes didn’t score (but Gonzalez had….one? And a few more shots?). I’d take the talent on LAG over NE (which was basically Shalrie Joseph and a lot of spear carriers/piano movers).

    2. The comparisons to Gooch are bad. Gooch is amazing physically. Gonzalez is tall. He’s extremely slow. He doesn’t have Onyewu’s athleticism. Maybe he’ll become a NT centerback. But I tend to think not.

    3. And all of this may sound like I’m bashing him–nah, he’s a very good rookie who in most years would have been a runaway winner. But again, my argument this year is that he’s a “safe” choice. You pick him b/c his team could win it all (regardless of his contribution), they got better defensively (regardless of his contribution), and he played a lot of minutes. All of those things are nice. But to me, Gonzalez still has moments where he looks very much like a rookie. Most of the time, while I thought he played well, I didn’t rate him as the best defender for the LAG in any of their games that I saw. But for Frei, Cronin, Barnes, even Alston, definitely Pontius you can go back and find probably a handful of games if not more where each of those players was the best player on their team for that game and certainly the best at their respective position. OTOH, if LAG had played DelaGarza at center back, I think their defensive performance this year would have been about the same (they’d have given up another couple of goals in the year but AJ would have not given up some goals and chances that Gonzalez did at times).

    I think Cronin, Alston, Pontius, maybe Wallace, Frei are all likely to see NT time (with their respective countries) before Gonzalez (who is likely to be a very good pro but someone on the level of maybe was Nat Borchers is/was).

  5. clear winner for me, this guy is the next iteration of gooch if he can keep his growth as a defender. i saw gooch in college and he didnt look at good as gonzales does now. gooch had made some serious improvements to his game though, just hope gonz can do the same.


  6. LA’s college picks have been good which is a start to building back up the franchise that we know can threaten the MLS Cup. DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Franklin have been great and hey, who knows? After World Cup time, they may get themselves a shot.

  7. Yes, guys like Pearce, who had brilliant perfomances against teams like Argentina, Spain, and England…….. Why doesn’t Gonzalez get a shot????

    ….I found some sarcasm in my underpants….

  8. Not too surprising to see a trend of defenders picking up this award. It’s got to be way easier to slot into a defensive or holding role and have a bit of time to settle in and be successful. Attacking players have to produce right away or ride the pine, and then there are few opportunities to redeem yourself. So the only attacking rookies that make a serious impact are the absolute studs like Deuce.

  9. Other facts of note regarding Gonzalez and his USMNT prospects: 4 of the 5 rookies of the year prior to Gonzalez have played some role on the USMNT (with Franklin being the exception, Parkhurst a bit of an outlier, and Edu, Bornstein and Dempsey constituting the remainder of the group). Also, of the 13 rookies of the year prior to Gonzalez, 9 have played for the USMNT, some with huge roles: Edu, Bornstein, Parkhurst, Dempsey, Martino, Bocanegra, Heaps, Olsen, Ralston. Obviously, some have had greater impact than others. Notably, of the four who did not get USMNT chances, two were not American–Ralph (Jamaica) and Faria (Brazil). That leaves Duhaney and Franklin. I think Franklin will still get some opportunities.

    Just sayin’.

  10. He played all season because LA had no other defenders. Also, he is slow and clearly lacks the speed and touch to play at a higher level. If we see him in a US game we are in trouble.

  11. I think there is a decent explanation. The “shortlist” included players from three different positions: defense (Gonzalez), Keeper (Frei), and forward/striker (Pontius).

    Barnes wasn’t even the best rookie defender in the group. Gonzalez played exactly 28 minutes less than Barnes, but scored a goal and had an assist, threatened the goal several other times (where Barnes had no shots at all), was integral to a defense that gave up 31 goals (compared to New England’s 37) during the regular season (and which cut the Galaxy’s previous year’s goals-against in half), and played on a team that took first place in the Western Division. And Gonzalez’s team is still in the playoffs, although I think that matters less.

    Oh, and an interesting tidbit–4 of the last 5 rookies of the year were defenders (the exception being Edu, who I think played a holding/defensive midfielder role while in Toronto). I am sure we can interpret that in a variety of ways.

  12. Well-deserved award for Omar. Not only a really good center back but a really nice guy. I go to UMD so I got to see him play up close for two years, dude was a monster in the ncaa. Still flies back into town for the big games and tailgates with all the fans before kickoff and everything.

  13. Great season for Gonzalez.

    As I recall, Omar had a very bad first day (albeit decent second day) at the MLS Combine.

    Ives, it would be interesting to see how rookies have done in MLS compared to their Combine ratings. Is the Combine effective as an indicator?

  14. Congrats to Gonz, good guy, good player…not quite ready for International play. Lets keep the expectations somewhat to reality.

    A healthy Gooch would make him a wild card to make the WC team, but with no Gooch, no chance you take a ‘flyer’ on a wild card.

    He’ll likely be at Bradleys Jan camp and will become integrated if he can play at that leve for the 2014 WC.

  15. Well-deserved. I liked Pontius a lot, but his form faded during the latter half of the season.

    Gonzalez was a regular starter on the best team in the Western Conference. This was a no-brainer.

  16. An outstanding first season from a kid with the potential to be a future US center back. Watch for him in 2014, and with another year like this one, may even be a wild card for 2010!


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