Best Coach: Sigi Schmid. After a disappointing 2007, Schmid has rejuvenated Columbus with young talent and has MLS’s usual also-rans running up front. Despite other managers’ designs to smother Schelotto, Schmid has figured out how to keep him in space.
Most Valuable Player: Landon Donovan. With 8 goals and 5 assists, Donovan is on his way to having the greatest statistical season in the history of MLS. If he keeps the pace up, he will score 30 goals and have over 20 assists, both likely MLS records. Yes, Beckham helps. Alot. But LD is the league’s best player. Honorable mention though must go to Blanco, Schelotto, Guevara, Gomez and Cooper.
Most Surprising Player: Jon Busch. Busch was the target of rumors at the beginning of the season. The Fire had drafted a hot young keeper (who never showed), and brought in some others, presumably to push Busch out. Well, despite seeing more shots than any keeper in the league, Busch has given up the fewest goals. Consider the rumors squashed.
Most Improved Team: There are so many you could go with here: L.A., Colorado, Columbus, Chicago. But for my money, no one has come farther so far this year than TFC, who is close to matching their win total from a year ago already. You’ve got to hand it to Carver and Johnston.
Best Player Acqusition: Speaking of Johnston, his bringing in of Guevara, although controversial, has thus far paid dividends. But, I have to go with Christian Gomez in Colorado. For years, the Rapids have played stifling defense, but lacked the offensive playmaker to spark the offense. Well, for a pittance, they got perhaps the league’s best, Gomez.
And of course, the booby prizes!
Worst Coach: Tom Soehn. He’s got the players, he just doesn’t have them playing well together. Whatever they do to get up for road games, they need to do the opposite. One goal in 360 minutes away from home? Soehn needs a healthy Olsen soon, or he may be looking for a new job.
Least Valuable Player: Marcelo Gallardo was supposed to be an upgrade from Christian Gomez, but he has looked like a big-time downgrade. Defensively, he is still pretty sharp, but he can’t spark the offense the way Gomez could. He’s too easy to contain and lacks his predecessor’s imaginative play. If I were a DCU fan, I would long for the man who actually delivered Supporters Shields and MLS Cup Championships, Gomez.
Most Surprising Player (in a bad way…): Brad Guzan. The man once hailed as the Next Big Thing in American soccer looks pretty pedestrian this season. Sure, injuries may be hampering him, but if that’s the case just sit until your healthy. The last thing the Goats needs is Guzan delaying his return to 100% health while ceding 3 goals a game.
Least Improved Team: DCU (see any trend here?). This team has fallen apart. Their road play is ghastly and their former dominance at home has been replaced by mediocrity. The biggest problem is the defense, which has struggled despite the additions of respected South American stalwarts. Soehn needs to right the ship soon, or United will be divided over his future with the club.
Worst Player Acquisition: One could go with Gallardo again here, but that would just be plain mean. The Louse, Claudio Lopez, hasn’t been a huge success in KC, but he’s not a grand failure either. Well, not yet. I am going to have to go with Carlos “the Fish” Ruiz, which isn’t fair necessarily because he has been injured all season except for two games, but it still is kind of fair because Lalas and the Gals knew they were buying a fragile fish. Well, you break it, you bought it, L.A. Here’s to hoping Ruiz returns healthy and proves me wrong.