Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Benny Award 2: The Nelly

By definition, the Nelly Award goes to the United player who has made the most significant positive impact in his first year with the club. The award’s namesake Ryan Nelsen became a starter shortly into his first season with United, and would go on to guide the team to an MLS Cup in 2004.

It’s a testament to the total failure of our 2008 acquisitions that not one of last year’s nominees is still on the team. The winner, Louis Crayton, was the only player to make it onto the roster at the start of 2009, only to lose his job to one of this year’s contenders.

  1. Josh Wicks has earned 5 shutouts in 18 starts for DC this season, and has at times looked like one of the top goalkeepers in MLS. Wicks is a good shot stopper and controls his box well. It’s only because of some mental errors and a bad temper that leads some fans to question whether or not he is a long-term solution. I’d put my money on Josh Wicks to win a fight against any other goalkeeper in the league.
  2. Dejan Jakovic joined the team this off-season from the famed Serbian club Red Star Belgrade, and also looks to have earned a starting role for the Canadian National Team. This young defender has taken a leadership role in our backline, and has the patience to distribute out of the back without turning the ball over (a rare quality on this team). It’s hard to imagine how poor DC would be without Jakovic, but it might also be hard to give this award to any defender when United is still the fourth worst team in the league in goals against.

  3. Chris Pontius the rookie from UCSB has appeared in all but one league match this season, and gives the team a versatile option at either forward or midfielder. With 4 goals and 2 assists on the season, Pontius has looked best when playing up front with good service from Quaranta on the wing.

  4. Rodney Wallace the rookie from Maryland has appeared in all but one league match this season, and gives the team a versatile option anywhere in the midfield. Wallace’s aggression, speed, and fitness level has benefited him even when occasionally filling in at CDM, but he has done the most damage (3 goals, 3 assists) from the left wing.

Please enter your votes now through the end of the season, and feel free to argue for your choice in the comments section.

Up next: The Convey – Who is DC United’s rookie of the year?


The AMT said...

I gotta go with Jakovic. I think the goals allowed total has more to do with the system than the three unfortunates victimized, and I think DJ is a long-term solution on the back-line. He's also one of the few CDs in the league that I've seen recover against somebody like Montero and dispossess him without fouling before picking out a teammate in the midfield. Quality.

Chest Rockwell said...

As much as I dig what Pontius and Wallace have done and will go on to achieve here, Jakovic is the class of our new players. It helps that he's totally irreplaceable within our current roster (as shown by the fact that we've been debating what awful defensive pairing we'd rather use when he's out).

When it comes down to it, we can win games without Wicks, Wallace, and Pontius. The fact that we've managed to go 2-1-1 without Jakovic is down to the quality of opponent (win @ San Juan Jabloteh, draw @ Dallas) and a smoke-and-mirrors show (the 1-0 win over KC, who should have had at least 4 goals).

Jakovic also fits the Nelly award for the simple fact that he's the first good center back we've had since Nelly himself. I'm not talking OK, or acceptable; I mean flat-out good. Jakovic should end up leaving MLS for Europe at some point, and before he goes he should be able to bag an MLS Best XI spot. I think that much of him.

Jeremy said...

This is a tough one. I really like what Pontius and Wallace bring to the team, and I look forward to seeing them on the roster for many years to come.

However, the scoring touch that these two had early in the season has evaporated. Now, they just look like rookies with speed and hustle. Still great for the team, but not worthy of "best newcomer".

Even narrowing the choice to Wicks and Jakovic is difficult. Jakovic seems a bit more stable and reliable to me.