The MLS All Star roster came out yesterday, and everyone is mad because the very deserving player on your favorite team who’s having the very best year in MLS at his position wasn’t selected.
So, we figured we’d jump into the controversy by releasing our 2017 Total MLS Midseason Awards! We’re just over halfway through the regular season, so now is as good of a time as any to give out these five very prestigious midseason awards:
Defender of the Midyear
Goalkeeper of the Midyear
Rookie of the Midyear
Newcomer of the Midyear
We asked each of our writers to nominate a player for each award. The player who received the most nominations wins. Pretty straight forward.
Keep in mind these are awards for players based on what they’ve done up until this point in the season. This is not necessarily who we think will win at the end of the season.
MVP – Nemanja Nikolic, Chicago Fire (4 votes)
Perhaps the most surprising thing about our midseason awards is that the top two vote getters for MVP are both members of the Chicago Fire. Quite the turnaround from last season, no? Regardless, our Midseason MVP award goes to the Hungarian striker who’s only halfway through his first MLS season. Nikolic currently leads MLS with an astonishing 16 goals, four more than second place David Villa and Cubo Torres. Only two of those 16 goals came from the penalty spot, unlike Villa and Cubo who have three and five PK goals respectively. Nikolic has three assists to go along with his 16 goals, and is one of the main reasons Chicago currently sits atop the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings alongside Toronto FC with 38 points. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do in the second half of the season.
Others receiving votes: David Accam (2), David Villa (1), Ike Opara (1)
Defender of the Midyear – Ike Opara, Sporting KC (5 votes)
It’s no secret that we at TMLS love Ike. Is there anyone who doesn’t, though? He’s one of the funniest, nicest guys in the league. His potential has always been there, but injuries have kept him from really fully breaking through. Unfortunately, a nasty concussion will force him to miss at least the next month or so, but Ike was hands down the winner for us. He’s been the best player along the best backline in MLS this year. He’s helped Sporting KC’s defense keep goals allowed to a league low 14 goals through 20 games, which is simply astonishing. He’s also scored two very impressive goals this year, including the incredible #IkeBike, as Sporting KC likes to call it. We wish Ike a very speedy recovery, and can’t wait to see him get back on the field and continue his fine form.
Others receiving votes: Justin Morrow (1), Francisco Calvo (1… we’re not sure, either)
Goalkeeper of the Midyear – Tim Melia, Sporting KC (7 votes)
In our only unanimous category, Tim Melia is the clear winner of Goalkeeper of the Midyear. The former MLS pool goalkeeper is having not only a career year for himself, but a career year for just about any keeper in MLS. Sure, he has the benefit of playing behind the best back line in MLS, but anyone who’s watched a Sporting KC game knows that SKC would not be sitting atop the Western Conference without Melia in goal. He’s made numerous game-saving stops that seem inhuman at times. He’s saved three of the five penalty kicks he’s faced this year. He’s allowed a league low 14 goals, which is actually outperforming Sporting KC’s xGA (expected goals against) of 19.67 by more than five goals. What that means is Tim Melia has been able to stop a lot of shots that were reasonably expected to go in. Simply put, Tim Melia has been the best keeper in the first half of the season, and it’s really not close.
Rookie of the Midyear – Julian Gressel, Atlanta United (6 votes)
There aren’t many standout rookies so far this year in MLS, so Gressel didn’t have much competition. The eighth overall pick in this year’s SuperDraft has started 15 games for Atlanta United, appearing in 19 total. He’s tallied three goals and six assists, which aren’t eye popping numbers, but scoring isn’t his main responsibility on a team with Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba. Gressel’s six assists are on pace to challenge the MLS rookie assist record of 12 currently held by Andy Williams, who set the mark in 1998 with the Columbus Crew. Playing alongside a player like Miguel Almiron has surely helped his play and development, and he’s been fortunate to find himself on a competitive expansion side that gives him lots of playing time.
Others receiving votes: Nick Lima (1)
Newcomer of the Midyear – Nemanja Nikolic, Chicago Fire (6 votes)
What else is there to say, really? He’s the Midseason MVP, so logic only dictates he’d be the Newcomer of the Midyear as well. He actually picked up an additional two votes from our staff than he had in the MVP race, so there was never really a question of who would win here.
Others receiving votes: Victor Vazquez (1)
Well there you have it, the 2017 Total MLS Midseason Awards. Go ahead now and tell us how we’re wrong and why we know nothing about soccer.