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Wondolowski leads MVP candidates as MLS announces award finalists

Major League Soccer announced the finalists for the 2012 league awards on Thursday and there weren’t many major surprises.

Chris Wondolowski, Graham Zusi and Thierry Henry were selected as finalists for the MVP award, an honor Wondolowski is expected to run away with after tying the MLS record for goals in a season with 27.

Former Louisville teammates Austin Berry and Nick DeLeon, as well as Vancouver Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks were chosen as finalists for MLS Rookie of the Year.

Here is the full list of finalists:

Rookie of the Year Finalists

Austin Berry (Chicago Fire)
Nick DeLeon (D.C. United)
Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

Xbox Individual Fair Play Finalists*

Ante Jazic (Chivas USA)
Logan Pause (Chicago Fire)
Heath Pearce (New York Red Bulls)

Xbox Team Fair Play Finalists*

Chicago Fire
Houston Dynamo
New England Revolution

Defender of the Year Finalists

Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes)
Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)

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

Kei Kamara (Sporting Kansas City)
Michael Lahoud (Philadelphia Union)
Chris Seitz (FC Dallas)

Referee of the Year Finalists

Silviu Petrescu
Baldomero Toledo
Armando Villarreal

Assistant Referee of the Year Finalists

Ian Anderson
Gregory Barkey
Corey Parker

Coach of the Year Finalists

Ben Olsen (D.C. United)
Peter Vermes (Sporting Kansas City)
Frank Yallop (San Jose Earthquakes)

Comeback Player of the Year Finalists

Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes)
Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
Chris Pontius (D.C. United)

Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year Finalists

Michael Gspurning (Seattle Sounders FC)
Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA)
Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)

Newcomer of the Year Finalists

Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes)
Michael Gspurning (Seattle Sounders FC)
Federico Higuain (Columbus Crew)

Volkswagen Most Valuable Player Finalists

Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

What do you think of these selections? Which were you most surprised by? What player do you think has the biggest gripe for being left out?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Without a doubt the award I’m most proud of (for even having it) is the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year Award. This is what makes us Americans – the fact that we go above and beyond the call of duty. Our players are examples to the rest of us, especially the young ones and even older dudes like me could use some inspiration now and then. Bone marrow donations, raising money for cancer research – MLS WORKS is awesome and our players’ community service work can’t be promoted enough.

    The rest of the awards are cool, but this one really hits home for me.

  2. MVP — Wondolowski
    Rookie — Berry
    Newcomer — Higuain
    Goalkeeper — Kennedy
    Defender — Besler
    Coach — Yallop
    Humanitarian — Seitz

  3. Love to see Wondo graduate from MLS to a more competitive league, but with his age…hes probably wishing all this was going on 10 years ago.

  4. Henry shouldn’t be on the MVP list. The much repeated statistic of his that he scored so few goals against playoff-bound teams is a key tangible fact. The intangible is that he is not a team player–instead he can be a black hole of energy and certainly isn’t the leader he should be.

  5. I think Chivas should have a halftime promotion called “The Dan Kennedy Experience” in which they take some lucky fan, line him up behind the goal, and just freakin’ drill him with a paintball gun until the teams are back out on the pitch.

  6. Assistant Referee of the Year Finalists

    Ian Anderson
    Gregory Barkey
    Corey Parker

    I would love to know how this selection is made. Who votes for these guys? I didn’t even know they wrote down the AR’s names. Well, I’m selecting Anderson. Dude plays flute for the Tull for two decades and still has enough left in the tank to run a line in the MLS? That’s my kind of AR. So come on. Who’s with me??? Anderson! Anderson! Anderson!

  7. It’s a shame that these awards don’t include postseason, because then DeLeon and Olsen would definitely win over Berry and Yallop.

    Also think Dom should be considered for coach of the year.

      • LOLOLOL, naw seriously, i am a fan of his (just like i am a fan of donovan, arena, gonzalez, becks, and junihno). i am thinking since galaxy struggled the 1st half of the season would be why. he is tearing it up in the playoffs though, that’s when it really counts. i am sure he is in the running for playoff MVP. it really does not matter how wondo got all his goals, the fact that he was able to tie the record is impressive non the less. i know SJ is your main rival so LA fans prob dont’t agree but as a neutral i pick wondo.

    • My thoughts exactly. Anyone care to do a goal count between Wondolowski and Keane, factoring in games played this season, and not counting PK’s? Oh, and remind me – which team is still playing?

      • If I had time I’d review Wondo’s 2012 goals. I doubt more than 10-15% were PKs, but I’m confident roughly 50% were tap-ins. Keane just plays exponentially better soccer. Wondo is an opportunist of the highest caliber, whereas Keane was the playmaker for the Galaxy this year, scoring 16 goals and assisting on 10. The stats don’t really make the case, but watching him play does.

  8. The Comeback Player of the Year finalists are all worthy and all interesting stories. That is really the most intriguing award for me, because it could easily be called a three-way tie.

      • “he left a bigger impact on not only the league…” I know that , but considering he was close to retiring, and going to 14 goal season back home this is pretty good for both parties.

    • i don’t really recall Alan Gordon being anything special before any comeback… He should be in the “break out player of the year” category

      EJ is the clear comeback player of the year.

  9. I’d argue that Matt Hedges meant more to FC Dallas than any other player on the rookie list. He stepped in George John and then Ugo Ihemelu’s place seamlessly, and was rock solid on a team slammed with injuries. He’s getting punished because FCD didn’t make the playoffs, which is no fault of his.

  10. 1) De Leon
    2) Pearce
    4) Bernardez
    8) Olson
    9) Johnson (really all three are pretty equal)
    10) Nielsen
    11) Higuain
    12) Wondo


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