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SBI MLS Newcomer of the Year: Pedro Morales

Pedro Morales Newcomer of the Year (USA TODAY Sports)

Photo by Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports



Three days after signing with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Pedro Morales made his debut off the bench in the 65th minute.

The Chilean needed only 25 minutes on the field to have a profound impact, scoring a goal and adding an assist in a Whitecaps 4-1 rout of the Red Bulls on the opening day of the season. The performance was a sign of things to come.

In 34 appearances with the Whitecaps this season, the veteran midfielder Morales scored 10 goals and added 12 assists, guiding his side to a fifth-place finish in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Morales’ overall performance this season made him the runaway choice for SBI MLS Newcomer of the Year.

Receiving all but one first-place vote in voting by SBI Soccer staff, Morales beat out an impressive group of nominee’s for this year’s award. Here’s a rundown of rest of the top five candidates for the award:

2. STEVE CLARK, Columbus Crew

Little was known of 28-year-old goalkeeper Steve Clark when the Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter signed him, but it didn’t take long for word to spread across the league.

Clark was plugged in as an instant starter on day one and was a major reason for the Crew’s rise back to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference this season. Clark started every match this season, making 123 saves this season along with 14 wins and eight shutouts. Clark’s ability to play passes to his defenders out of the back also enabled the Crew back line to push higher up, and support their midfield and attacking players.

3. JERMAINE JONES, New England Revolution

Although Jones only joined MLS on Aug. 24 after a blind draw allocated him to the Revolution, the German-American has proven to be the missing puzzle piece for a team that’s a legitimate MLS Cup contender. Through ten games played, Jones has three goals and six assists, but more importantly, since joining the Revolution, the team has scored two or more goals in 11 of his 13 appearances, going 11-1-1 in that span.

4. STEFAN ISHIZAKI, Los Angeles Galaxy

Bruce Arena signed Ishizaki to give the Galaxy a more veteran presence along the wings, and that’s exactly what the Swedish international provided. Ishizaki showcased his experience and tactical nous this season, using space along the touchline to take on full backs while also knowing when to pinch inside and combine with his forwards. Ishizaki has five goals and seven assists in 32 games so far, including the MLS Cup playoffs.

5. FANENDO ADI, Portland Timbers

Adi joined the Timbers in mid-May but made a big splash at the start of the season, scoring two goals in each of his first two starts, exciting Timbers fans who hoped that the team had found their elusive goal-scoring center forward. Although injuries slowed him down during the tail end of the season, Adi still finished the year with nine goals and four assists, including a dish on a Goal of the Year nominee scored by Will Johnson. Adi controlled a pass just inside the box with his chest, juggled the ball with his right foot before flicking a pass with that same foot into the box towards the on-rushing Johnson, who volleyed home.

What do you think of SBI’s selection? Agree that Morales was the best newcomer in 2013? Think that Clark or Jones deserved the honor?

Share your thoughts below.


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