Today the Canadian Soccer Association announced the short list of finalists for this years Canadian Soccer Awards. There was some Toronto FC content in the finalists but only on the Under-20 ballot. The top prize in the awards is the BMO Canadian Player of the Year award, presented to one male and one female international. The other prizes are under 20 player of the year and under 17 player of the year which are again presented one to each gender.
The race for the awards, if you can call it that, will be between 9 players (plus the option to write in) for the BMO players of the year prizes. They will be voted on by Canadian Media and Canadian coaches while the youth awards will be contested by 6 finalists (plus write in option) and will be decided by the Canadian coaching staffs.
The big news from a Toronto FC perspective comes in the under-20 male category which is dominated by Reds. Ashtone Morgan will be the clear favourite to win the award from the list as he was the only one getting regular minutes in a top professional league as well as being the only player eligible for this award to take part in senior team action. Morgan is joined on the final ballot by fellow TFC academy products Matt Stinson, Oscar Cordon, and Doneil Henry. The nomination list is rounded out by Vancouver Whitecaps Russell Teibert and Johnathan Lao who plays for FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt in Germany. TFC can certainly take pride in the fact that this list is dominated by products of their academy and that it will almost certainly go to the brightest young talent of that bunch.
I will look at the races for the top prizes after the jump.The men's race for Canadian player of the year is sure to be a fairly tight race with several players on the list having a decent case. I have a feeling that most people will be able to guess the winner in the end but lets not spoil the surprise of that now. The nominees are:
Marcel de Jong: Currently plying his trade in Germany's top flight where he is a regular player for FC Augsburg. He was a key part of getting them promotion to the top flight last season when they finished second in 2.Bundesliga. This season he has already proven that he is not out of his depth at the top level and has enjoyed one of the best years in terms of club level success for any current Canadian international. Injuries and personal issues derailed him so far this season and limited his involvement in qualifiers though.
Dwayne De Rosario: The DC United midfielder, was also a Toronto FC and New York Red Bull player this year, has the strongest looking resume on paper. In the past year he won an MLS Golden boot, the MLS MVP, and equalled the Canadian international scoring record with a penalty in the final match of the fall.
David Edgar: The Burnley center back seems to have cemented a starting spot for the Championship side this past season. He is now regularly playing 90 minutes and is a key part for the team as they chase promotion back into the Premier League. He was a pleasant surprise for many when he got the chance to play with the national team this fall as he showed the ability to pick out a good pass and showed the calm and poise you look for in a centre back.
André Hainault: Was probably the best player for the Houston Dynamo this fall during their run to the MLS Cup. Not only did he manage to chip in with goals for his club but he has also developed into one of the best defenders in the MLS. He made 7 appearances for the National team but did take a bit of criticism for turning down the call in October to focus on helping Houston make the playoffs.
Simeon Jackson: Technically Jackson currently plays in the Premier League even if his minutes with Norwich have been very limited so far this season. His spot on this list was earned by the fact that he was vital in helping to get Norwich promoted to the top flight in England but was also joint top scorer for Canada on the year and the best in this fall's round of qualifiers.
Will Johnson: Had a very strong season in the midfield for Real Salt Lake where he really seemed to come into his own this past season. By the end of the year he was one of their best and most important players which really shows how far he has already come. Johnson is known around the league for being a tenacious midfielder who is willing to do the dirty work that a team needs to win games in the MLS. He was also a regular for the national team and performed better then the likes of Julian De Guzman and Terry Dunfield on a regular basis.
Olivier Occean: He is currently leading the 2.Bundesliga in scoring with 10 goals already on the season. He has already made management at SpVgg Greuther Fürth glad that they made the move to sign him back in May. On top of being one of the hottest scorers around for his club team Occean was able to chip in 3 for the national team in the five games that he did play this year.
Tosaint Ricketts: What a difference a year makes for Ricketts. A year ago he was probably not even on the radar for most Canadian fans but now he is on this list and was actually the clear man of the match in Canada's last qualifiers. He is currently playing in Romania with FC Politehnica Timisoara where he is a regular on the scoring charts but he will likely be on to bigger and better things in the near future. For Canada he chipped in two goals in qualifiers along with a very thrilling late equalizer in the spring friendly against Ecuador.
Josh Simpson: Played a role in every single game that Canada played in the past year with 12 appearances. He seems to be one of the first names that Hart likes to put down on the team sheet and who could blame him as the pacey wide player contributed with three goals this fall. He also has a habit of chipping in goals for his club in Turkey and is one of the most important players for Manisaspor.
In the end the fact that Dwayne De Rosario was the first Canadian player to win an MLS MVP will probably be too much for the others to overcome, but just looking over this list of names and then considering the fact that the likes of Atiba Hutchinson and Julian De Guzman do not even feature you can actually get excited about what the top Canadian internationals are doing right now.
On the woman's side of things the nominees are: Candace Chapman, Christina Julien, Kaylyn Kyle, Karina LeBlanc, Diana Matheson, Kelly Parker, Sophie Schmidt, Christine Sinclair, and Rhian Wilkinson.
The simple choice for the winner is probably Christine Sinclair since she really is the clear leader of the team and she has had to change her game the most to work with the various styles that Canada has tried to play under Morace and now Herdman. She was also one of the best players for Canada in the PanAm Games where the team won Gold. Combine that with her goals in the World Cup and her heroic showing despite suffering a broken nose and you have your likely winner.
If you want to go with a bit of an underdog that is still very much deserving then you need look no further than Sophie Schmidt. At this summers disastrous would cup she was by far the best player for Canada and was again solid at the PanAms. If voters can look past the larger than life image of Sinclair then Schmidt might be a good dark horse choice to win this.
The only other name of note to Toronto FC fans is Keven Aleman who is on the under-17 list. Aleman is a former TFC academy player whose MLS rights now belong to the Whitecaps but he still holds a spot in the hearts of many Reds fans.