Each year the MLS releases its awards ballot and asks a wide variety of media members to cast a ballot to help decide who will be taking home the hardware. The media vote is just one part of the process and when combined with votes from the clubs and players determines who will win many of the leagues end of season awards.
On SB Nation we are lucky enough to get to cast our own votes, and get to share with you just who we voted. Of course, most people will disagree with some or all of our votes -- so let us know in the comments. For most of the awards the league asked us to give a first and second choice. So without further ado, this is how Duncan, John, and myself (Dave) all voted in 2012.,,
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2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP
Duncan: 1st - Chris Wondolowski, 2nd - Thierry Henry
John: 1st - Chris Wondolowski, 2nd - Graham Zusi
Dave: 1st - Chris Wondolowski, 2nd - Robbie Keane
It seems that Wondo's chase of the MLS single season goal scoring record has him as a near lock to bring home the highest honour this year. After him the choice is between the likes of Keane, Henry, and Kenny Cooper with their impressive goal tallies or ignoring the numbers and taking a leading assist man like John did. The only Toronto FC player on the ballot for MVP is Terry Dunfield, just let that one sink in.
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Defender of the Year
Duncan: 1st - Jamison Olave, 2nd - Matt Besler
John: 1st - Jamison Olave, 2nd - Zach Loyd
Dave: 1st - Jamison Olave, 2nd - Victor Bernardez
We once again are all in agreement on who we thinks if the leading candidate for this award but I don't think that Olave is a lock to win this award by any means. In fact, I would suggest that there are even a few names that didn't appear on any of our ballots who could make a run at the award. Lots of players who had strong seasons and a few who were forces all year long make it a more open race than our voting would suggest. Toronto is again only represented by one candidate in Richard Eckersley.
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Comeback Player of the Year
John: 1st - Brian Ching, 2nd - Omar Gonzalez
Dave: 1st - Alan Gordon, 2nd - Eddie Johnson
Always one of the toughest awards to try and figure out because of the variety of ways that people can vote. I went with the two most impressive seasons from players who were included on the ballot even if neither was really coming back from a massive injury while others, like John, will take more consideration of the seriousness of the injury in deciding which of the comebacks was the most impressive. Toronto's Jeremy Hall was on the list but really he is not high on the list by either voting logic.
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Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year
Duncan: 1st - Nick Rimando, 2nd - Jimmy Nielsen
John: 1st - Nick Rimando, 2nd - John Busch
Dave: 1st - Jimmy Nielsen, 2nd - Nick Rimando
For my money, this is going to be a two horse race this season between Rimando and Nielsen. They have both had top class seasons with over 30 starts and with save percentages in the 70's. I gave Nielsen the nod for the award because he made 34 appearances and only gave up 27 goals while Rimando allowed 33 goals in 31 matches but that was behind the weaker team defense. Milos Kocic is on the ballot for Toronto for this award.
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Newcomer of the Year
Duncan: 1st - YP Lee, 2nd - Boniek Garcia
John: 1st - Blas Perez, 2nd - Darren O'Dea (no bias here at all...)
Dave: 1st - Victor Bernardez, 2nd - Patrice Bernier
Another wide open award in my books and you can see that in the way the three of us voted as not one name managed to appear on more than one ballot. Add in the likes of Federico Higuain and Saer Sene who had impressive seasons despite not playing full seasons for a variety of reasons and it is a fairly deep field for the award. O'Dea is the only Toronto player on the list and if people think like John he might just get a vote or two since he brought a shred of stability to TFC's back four.
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Rookie of the Year
Duncan: 1st - Luis Silva, 2nd - Austin Berry
John: 1st - Luis Silva, 2nd - Darren Mattocks
Dave: 1st - Austin Berry, 2nd - Luis Silva
We are biased on this one with giving that much love to Silva but the fact is that he had a very good season for a team that was far from good. If he had been lucky enough to play in an organized midfield or even to work with Danny Koevermans he might well have ended up the favourite for this award. Instead, he finds himself in the mix along with Berry, Matt Hedges, and Mattocks with the likes of Nick DeLeon, Andrew Wenger, and Ryan Meara not all that far behind. Should be interesting to see where this award ends up going with two impressive defenders and two bright attackers near the top of the list.
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MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year
Duncan: 1st - Chris Seitz, 2nd - Kei Kamara
John: 1st - Will Bruin, 2nd - Will Johnson
Dave: 1st - Chris Seitz, 2nd - Logan Pause
No winners or losers for this award as all the men nominated have done a great job of giving their free time to try and make a difference in their communities. Seitz may be the standout candidate as he brought his own season to an early end so that he could donate bone marrow to a stranger who he had never met after he was informed that he was a match to them. Seitz joined the donor list in 2009 when he was with Real Salt Lake after the wife of one of his teammates, Andy Williams, was diagnosed with leukemia. Toronto is represented by Stefan Frei thanks to his work in creating a massive banner and other pieces for the 90th minute auction in support of the Team Up Foundation.
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Coach of the Year
Duncan: 1st - Frank Yallop, 2nd - Frank Klopas
John: 1st - Frank Yallop, 2nd - Peter Vermes
Dave: 1st - Frank Yallop, 2nd - Peter Vermes
Hard to see someone other than Yallop winning this award having led his San Jose Earthquakes side to a supporters shield win in the difficult Western Conference and done so with limited spending power. He got the most out of one of the less expensive rosters around the league which is similar to what Vermes did at Sporting Kansas City. Both are top notch candidates not only because of their great records and conferences titles but because they did so much without the spending power of the likes of say LA or New York. For some reason they bothered to put Paul Mariner on the ballot for this one out of a move that could not have been motivated by more than a desire to be kind to TFC.
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Referee of the Year
Duncan: Armando Villarreal
John: Silviu Petrescu
Dave: Armando Villarreal
No votes for Baldemero Toledo! Three really good candidates for that award. They also have us vote for top Assistant Referee but that is clearly not an award that many have interest in.
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Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando
Defenders: Y.P. Lee, Jamison Olave, Matt Besler, Nat Borchers
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Osvaldo Alonso, Boniek Garcia
Forwards: Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon, Thierry Henry
Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando
Defenders: A.J. DeLaGarza, Zach Loyd, Jamison Olave, Omar Gonzalez
Midfielders: Graham Zusi, Chris Pontius, Brian Ching, Will Johnson
Forwards: Chris Wondolowski, Alvaro Saborio
Goalkeeper: Jimmy Nielsen
Defenders: Aurelien Collin, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Victor Bernardez
Midfielders: Graham Zusi, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Davis
Forwards: Chris Wondolowski, Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Keane
There is very little agreement between the three of us here, the only two that's unanimous between us is Wondolowski and Jamison Olave. His RSL teammates Rimando, Saborio and Borchers do get two out of three (which isn't bad) -- but when you're picking 11 players, it's hard to get a uniform agreement.
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So what do you think? Let us know in the comments below!