WTR Year in Review: Heroes of the Year

Is she Team WTR's hero of the year? You bet she is! - Stanley Chou

One the first day of 2013, Team WTR fetes the people who made the headlines in a good way in 2012. These are the ones who made us (and Canadian soccer) proud, in a year of dark clouds.

Throughout the course of 2012, we've had highs and we've had lows -- and in the past week and a half, we've been recapping all of the best (and worst) bits of the year that was. We've had characters, villains, misplays and even a few head-scratching moments. But now, on the first day of the new year, we reveal the individuals who made members of Team WTR proud.

These are the people who showered themselves with glory, serving as bright lights in a year that had many dark points. Here they are...

* * *

First it was the Lou Marsh Trophy, then the Canadian Press female athlete of the year (and for her team, the team of the year), and now by a unanimous vote of our writers, WTR's Hero of the Year is CHRISTINE SINCLAIR.

The captain, the talisman. She's Sachin Tendulkar, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Pele rolled into one. She's been nominated for Prime Minister, Governor General and even Queen. She's been setting new records, and catapulting Canadian women's soccer to new heights -- and with three years to go before a home World Cup, no less. And on top of that, she's hawking Tide laundry detergent. Name a Canadian soccer player who can say they've done all that!

She's won every accolade available this year, and still had time to sit down with us. And if her recent tweets are any indication, she's raring to go for 2013 and beyond. Sure, she might have that inconvenient four-match ban she still has to serve, but for all of the things she's done for Canadian women's soccer, there is no other person worthy of this title. All of us have tried to find another name, and have failed. And from seeing the video below, how can you argue against that? (Unless you're Abby Wambach of course...)

* * *

Sinclair may have been our unanimous choice for Hero of the Year, but there were a number of very worthy candidates...

John, Dave, Kristin - Diana Matheson: How could she not be on this list? She did after all, score "that goal" - the one that brought a nation of Canadian football fans to tears of joy! Seriously, I cried...didn’t you? Not only did that goal give our women the bronze but to see Matheson’s joy as she kissed the badge on her shirt and ran to her teammates? Chills. Simply one of the best things I saw this entire year.

While Sinclair has been showered with glory in the spotlight, Matheson can rest easy that she will never been forgotten, as her stoppage time strike will surely be replayed over and over again in the years to come as a marquee of Canadian triumph. And without her combative guile, we likely wouldn't be feting the women's team as the heroes they are.

During her post-game interview, it was clear that she (and the rest of the team) were running on fumes, but somehow she was able to find the magic to conjure up one final incantation to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But her contributions were steady all throughout the Olympic tournament, and even during the qualifiers in Vancouver. Without Matheson, where would Canada be? And where would Sincy be?

Armen - Joey Saputo: If there is anyone as influential in Montreal's Italian community as Saputo, I don't know who that could be. His family makes millions selling Italian cheese, for crying out loud! He's taken the Impact from the USL and into the big leagues, infused them with Italian internationals and put them right in the playoff race in their first year.

Atta boy, Mr. Saputo!

Duncan - Danny Koevermans: He was important for that brief time we were good, and also gave us the 'worst team in the world' quote (which won our Quote of the Year). Overall, he just seems like a proper old school dying breed kind of footballer, not fitness obsessed but looks like an actual well rounded individual who'd be fun to hang out with. So how can you not cheer for that?

John - Megan Rapinoe: I know, I know...we still hate the Americans for how they won in Manchester. But for all the bluster and the arrogance, there was one hero that bears mentioning, and she is Megan Rapinoe. A University of Portland Pilot like our Hero of the Year, she plays an important part in the continued dominance of the sport by the US. However, this year she publicly came out of the closet, becoming one of the very few openly LGBT Olympians at the London Games.

For all the hatred and anger we still have, I have to give some kudos to 'Pinoe for her courage in coming out, and setting an example for all of us. She may be one woman, but she is a harsh lesson to homophobes who think openly out athletes can't work with their straight counterparts as a cohesive unit. Heck, WTR has had an out man writing for them for about a year and a half, and we're one of the top MLS blogs on SBNation!

But is that because of, or despite that? Not at all. So suck it, homophobes!

Kristin - Atiba Hutchinson: The Canadian Men’s team did not achieve success this year but if there was one player that stood head and shoulders above the rest and will lead the way for the CMNT over the coming years.

Add to that his success in not only coming back from the knee injury he sustained in the WCQ match against St. Lucia to shine for Canada but to also take the starting RB position for PSV Eindhoven in the summer, score his first goal in August and of course he set up the most fantastic goal of the the Men’s WCQ campaign. Hell, I didn’t even see the goal until later on that night but it deserves to be watched again!

Armen - Milos Kocic: Imagine how disastrous the season would have been if Toronto FC didn't have a ready-made backup for Stefan Frei waiting in the wings! Kocic stepped up in a big way in 2012, after Frei went down with injury. The fact that Toronto FC didn't immediately turn into a laughing stock in defending is a testament to Milos Kocic - the laughing stock bit came nine games later, but by God, Kocic didn't allow it to become 10.

Duncan - Jamie McLeod (and the Voyageurs): Coordinating the ticketing for supporters was probably a horrendous challenge, but somehow, Jamie and his team pulled it off and seriously helped get more momentum and positive crowds behind the team over the year. In turn, they created some actually enjoyable supporter experiences, so genuine kudos to all involved in that.

What you see below, probably wouldn't have been possible without their hard work.

* * *

Think we've missed someone? Vote in our poll (as usual), and comment!

Well, that's (almost) the end of our 2012 Year in Review -- there's one more special part tomorrow, but for all of you who have stuck with us over the past year, a heartfelt thank you to you all for supporting us, and we hope 2013 will bring even bigger and better things, and you will join us on our journey.

Happy New Year!

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