Now that Major League Soccer has started to give out their awards in certain categories, there is one they’ve awarded that is highly questionable. That’s the Rookie of the Year category. The three nominees were Danny Mwanga of the Philadelphia Union, Tim Ream of the New York Red Bulls and Andy Najar of DC United. To win this category, I believe you need to consider rookies having solid seasons, from start to finish, to win that award.
Unbelievably, Najar was voted by MLS as Rookie of the Year. From a terrible season for the club in our Nation’s Capital he scored five goals with an assist and started twenty-two out of the twenty-six games he played. What he has shown to all of us is that he is going to be the future at DC United and a possible member of the US National Team. Or he could play for Honduras if he has to make a choice. There’s no doubt that he’ll be a shining star out of a doom and gloom season at RFK. But while it’s nice to see him get this award, sadly there was a mistake made by the league and those who think they did the right thing.
Rookie central defender Tim Ream, who has played every single match and every single minute in his first season in MLS, deserved the award. The former St. Louis University defender did more than Najar with a club that was having a spectacular season, made the playoffs and is an MLS Cup contender. No matter where Ream was on the field he always tracked back and when he got close enough to the attacker, he would clear the ball away from his man without ever having to take him down. If this award is supposed to be given to an exciting goal scorer, then we should just make two separate awards for Rookie Forward of the Year and Rookie Defender of the Year.
Major League Soccer has done a disservice in their decision to name Najar Rookie of the Year. Some will say that Najar slightly did better than the other two nominees, but that is a laughable excuse. I am not saying Najar won’t be an exciting player in the league in the future. I think he has a bright future for his club career and as a potential national team player, but as the only bright spot in a horrible season for DC United it wasn’t enough for him to win the award.
Yes I know that I see Ream day-in and day-out at training and at Red Bull Arena. I also watch MSG Network (Madison Square Garden Network) when the club is on the road if it’s not broadcasted on ESPN2 or Fox Soccer Channel. But if Ream wasn’t starting and all of a sudden head coach Hans Backe decided to throw him in there in the middle of the season because the Red Bulls had a horrible start and he allowed about three to four goals a match, then the voting would be even and I wouldn’t have had a problem at all. Ream started on March 27 against the Chicago Fire and played all thirty matches in the regular season.
He started the season partnering with Mike Petke, and then got Carlos Mendes when Backe made a change. Not one minute did he look out of place. Of course he had a bad match here and there, but he was able to mentally get back into the swing of things and found ways to prevent a goal in the next match.
Congratulations to Najar. You are the MLS 2010 Rookie of the Year winner, but the real winner should have been Ream who had a solid season from the first match of the regular season all the way to the end.