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The 2011 MLS Awards: SBI’s Predictions

 Landon Donovan 3 (

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With the 2011 MLS season ready to kick off tonight when the Los Angeles Galaxy takes on the Seattle Sounders, now is a good time to share our picks for this season's individual awards.

The MLS writing staff at SBI has voted on six regular season awards, as well as on the Golden Boot. Avi Creditor, Adam Serrano, Thomas Floyd and I have cast our votes and the results are pretty much what you might expect. Real Salt Lake is well-represented, while one Eastern Conference team has two selections among the group.

Here are SBI's predictions for the 2011 MLS Awards: 



Landon Donovan MVP ( 

2nd- Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake; 3rd- Freddy Montero, Seattle Sounders



Jamison Olave 1 ( 

2nd- Rafa Marquez, New York Red Bulls; 3rd- Tim Ream, New York Red Bulls



Nick Rimando ( 

2nd- Kevin Hartman, FC Dallas; 3rd-Donovan Ricketts, Los Angeles Galaxy



Charlie Davies DC ( 

2nd- Jorge Perlaza, Portland Timbers; 3rd- Omar Bravo, Sporting Kansas City



 WillBruin (

2nd- Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers; 3rd- Perry Kitchen, D.C. United


AlvaroSaborio1 (  

2nd- Freddy Montero, Seattle Sounders; 3rd- Juan Pablo Angel, Los Angeles Galaxy



Dominic Kinnear ( 

2nd- Ben Olsen, D.C. United; 3rd- Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake

What do you think of our picks? Which did you agree with? Which did you disagree with?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m guessing you’re not filling out any NCAA tournament brackets this year? Hell, even the president fills out brackets.

  2. WHAT ABOUT ZAREK VALENTIN FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR? He is starting along one the strongest back lines in the league. I think he will be one of the big if not biggest impact rookies of the year.

  3. Davies is going to be trying to score for a bad team getting no service.

    Philly was a good goalkeeper away from making the playoffs in thier first year. They’ve improved thier defense and I think Mondragon will get Newcomer of the Year. (Not GK, tho, because they are shorthanded of defenders and will still get blown out a few games.)

  4. I think your picks are pretty good. I do expect big rebounds from Houston and DC, so Olsen and Kinnear will be in the running. Kreis never gets any respect (except from me, since I think he’s been amazing). Kinnear has the reputation, so it’s a solid pick.

    Saborio is probably the odds-on choice to lead in scoring. One of the top players in CONCACAF. I still don’t know how RSL pulled off that signing. Does Kreis get credit, or the front office?

    Bruin and Davies have looked good in training, and look like they’re gonna get lots or playing time. Good picks there. Once again, credit to Kinnear for getting great value with the draft-day trade. Not sure whether DC’s front-office deserves credit, or whether it goes to CD’s agent. I suspect the latter.

    Love me some Nicky. With that team, this is an easy call. Not sure I agree with Olave though. I’ve got all your other award-winners on my MFLS squad. As it happens, I’ve got Ream in my defense, but I think you might have him too highly-ranked. He’s good for his years, but I’m not sure he’s already at that level. I’d go with one of LA’s defenders, either Franklin or Gonzalez.

    LD is the best bet for MVP.

  5. “You are trying to predict a retrospective and subjective judgment of events that have not yet begun to occur.”

    You’ll agree that it’s normal to make predictions about which teams will do well, make the playoffs, win the Supporters’ Shield, and the MLS Cup, no? Of course, these are about events that have not yet begun to occur. That’s why they’re predictive. And, we may judge the quality of those predictions later, when the events have occurred.

    So, you’re objection would be that Ives is predicting personal awards instead of team achievements? Seriously?

    This is what sportswriters do. Pick up a baseball preview article and you will find predictions — not just for division winners and World Series champs, but also for league MVP and Cy Young awards. It’s what sportswriters do. It’s also what bloggers do. I bet you could find a number of blogs with writers attempting the same — going on record to test their powers of prognostication and to provoke discussion.

    I might add that the individual award are subjective in name only. The voters may have somewhat differing criteria, but basically they’re looking at the same statistics and majority (or plurality) do agree on a winner.

    I won’t touch your criticism of Ives’ defensiveness because his reaction was totally reasonable considering your very strange comment. It really seems as if you’ve just discovered professional sportswriting.

  6. Of course. They’re predictions. Nothing bizarre here except the critical reaction. They’re predictions. Making them after the season has started is rather less impressive, wouldn’t say? Anyone can predict the awards winners at the end of the season. The trick is doing it before the season starts.

  7. Let me try to explain. Posting a thread that asks “who are going to be the big players in MLS in 2011?” and then responding by saying “Landon Donovan’s going to have a big year,” is totally normal. Obviously that’s the kind of discussion that fans have everywhere in any preseason.

    But choosing the future 2011 awards (and then posting your top three picks!) is kind of a strange way of rhetorically framing that discussion. You are trying to predict a retrospective and subjective judgment of events that have not yet begun to occur. At that point you are trying to guess a future contingency based on another future contingency. And that’s a little weird. It’d be like saying “I think Charlie Sheen will be the year’s most surprising celebrity trial acquittal,” when he hasn’t even robbed the 7-Eleven yet.

    I realize this largely is a semantic point. Of course, everyone is trying to predict who the big players are in MLS in 2011 and I entirely understand that that’s what you’re doing here. And it’s fun to do that! And as you say, people do that all over the world. In the summer, for instance, we’ll all be trying to guess the EPL champions and relegated teams and star performers in 2012. But what you won’t hear is EPL journalists trying to pick the 2012 PFA awards before the season starts.

    And SBI, I love your site and visit it every day, but I’ve always been puzzled by the way you respond so touchily to mild criticism on your site. Honestly, you guys are more defensive than a Roberto Mancini-coached XI with a one goal lead at the second leg in the Nou Camp.

  8. Call my a homer (im a sounders fan) but Freiberg may be a sleeper pick for newcomer of the year, hes looked quite good in preseason for the sounders and with evans injury history he will get his chances.

  9. Really? “What planet are you from” was your nicest way possible?

    How about just “because it’s fun,” since that is the only actual justification (and the only one that’s needed.)

    (SBI-Jeremy, how about you mind your business? And no, that wasn’t the nicest way to say that, but definitely not the worst. Haha)

  10. I’d like to see an award for Transaction of the Year for shrewd roster moves. RSL’s acquisition of Alvarez or LA picking up JPA may turn get my vote this season.

  11. You are completely right, winning all those games was a complete fluke, making shrewd off season roster moves and being the DEFENDING champs with the their starting XI in tact, who would ever think that could be a sign of a top team in 2011.

  12. That there are CO Rapids fans complaining about meaningless pre-season predictions shows how far MLS has come in fan loyalty. Now all Crapids fans can get ready to be destroyed by RSL for Rocky Mnt Cup.

  13. yea, that’s why they call them predictions. what, do you want them to make them the day before the awards are given?

    welcome to the sport world pal, every sport in the entire world does this, i don’t know where you’ve been all this time

  14. Don’t forget he picked them to lose every playoff match last year, including the Cup. Said the RedBulls got the best of the Ballouchy trade, etc etc

    (SBI-Last time I checked I wasn’t the only person to pick against the Rapids repeatedly. And I’m willing to bet not many people outside Colorado picked them. They won via PKs in the 1st round, then beat an overachieving team at home, 1-0, then won a game in overtime on a deflected own goal. They get credit for showing great heart, but anybody acting like they showed they’ll be a top team over 34 games in 2011 is kidding themselves. Or the’re just a really loyal Rapids fan.

    Call me a hater if you’d like. I just keep it real. My picks won’t always be right, but I’ll stand by them every time. It’s funny how the people getting bent about my Rapids predictions are Rapids fans. Guess what guys? If I was a Rapids fan I’d pick the Rapids to win too.)

  15. But hey, with 10 teams making the playoffs, anything can happen!

    It would be disastrous if Colorado repeated after being the 9th/10th seed in the playoffs.

  16. You’re free to make your own predictions, and then you can bookmark this thread and tell everyone “I told you so” when Colorado repeats. Or you can never mention it again when it becomes obvious that they are an average team that got hot over a few games.

  17. Is this your first time following professional sports?

    Experts throughout the country are currently making their baseball predictions, too.

  18. He needed to snub Colorado one last time before the season started. I mean, he already said that they wouldn’t even make the playoffs this year, which may be the first time any commentator has ever said that about a defending MLS Cup Champion. But hey, Soccer by Ives didn’t get to be the top of the class by doing anything halfway.

    (SBI-Whoa, when did I say Colorado wouldn’t make the playoffs? I ranked them sixth in my Fox Soccer power rankings, six gets in easily. Kudos to them for getting hot and winning MLS Cup, but I’m hardly alone in thinking they still aren’t one of the best teams in the league.)

  19. There should be a category for “Best Impact Player” that goes to the individual who made the biggest difference for his team from a trade. I.e. inner-MLS trade.

    Dax is my bet for that award…

  20. Agree… This is a very bizarre post…. Above anything else, a single injury in the first game could ruin these predictions.

  21. Isn’t it a little bit weird to be posting a prediction about who will win individual awards in 2011 before a single ball has even been kicked?

    It’s kind of like predicting the 2012 Oscar winners without having seen a single film.

    (SBI-What planet are you from that the idea of making pre-season predictions on awards is somehow completely foreign to you? It’s done in every sport anywhere. It’s something to talk about. If you can’t grasp the point I really don’t know what to tell you.

    And I mean all that in the nicest way possible.)

  22. Ha, I suspect the SBI staff has suspicions with the validity of Chris Wondolowski’s golden boot last year. He may not be that great of a player, but hey, neither is/was Van Nistelrooy. They both just put the ball in the net given half a chance.

  23. A few “safe” picks but I don’t disagree with any of them, and adding second and third place gives them some nice weight.

    Donovan is a no brainer for MVP, I wish he was doing his thing in England though.


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