The MLS end of the year awards finalists (as voted on my players, club officials, and members of the media) are in and LA Galaxy players Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane have finished in the top three of voting for the categories of Defender of the Year and Most Valuable Player respectively.
Omar Gonzalez won MLS Defender of the Year in 2011, and was a finalist for the award in 2010 when it was won by Jamison Olave. It's unsurprising that Gonzalez finished in the top three again during his first full year with the US men's national team. Ranking defenders is often subjective and Gonzalez' partner at centerback with the national team, Matt Besler, was also named a finalist. Besler won the award last season. Jose Goncalves rounds out the finalists after a great year turning around the New England Revolution defense.
The campaigning for players to win MLS end of the year awards is often done at the grassroots level, more of a social media conversation than anything else. Keane's name was one discussed toward the end of the year, and he'd certainly be a deserving winner. He's joined by Mike Magee who turned around Chicago's season and Marco di Vaio who was a goal machine this season without taking penalty kicks.
The case for Keane is in just how balanced his season was, one of only two players finishing in double digits for both goals and assists. His goal efficiency was better than the other defenders, but Keane missed a significant amount of time this season and that could have cost him MVP.
The Galaxy haven't had an MVP finalist since Edson Buddle's almost Golden Boot winning year of 2010. Only two Galaxy players have won the award: Landon Donovan in 2009 and Carlos Ruiz in 2002. Donovan was also a finalist in 2008, and Cobi Jones was nominated in 1998.
LA were also finalists for the MLS Fair Play award, which is an objective award based on fewest fouls and cards with a subjective evaluation of sportsmanlike behaviour. LA committed the third fewest fouls in the past MLS season and were last in cards received.
The Fair Play award will be announced on November 25th, and Defender of the Year will be announced the following day. MVP is the last award announced, along with goal of the year and save of the year on December 5th. MLS Cup will be held the following Saturday.