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ProSoccerTalk’s Award conversations: Major League Soccer’s Defender of the Year

Oct 30, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT

San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders Getty Images

Three soccer brains are clearly better than one. So Richard Farley, Noah Davis and I huddled virtually to sort out our ProSoccerTalk picks for Major League Soccer awards.

(MORE: Our Coach of the Year conversation and choice)

(MORE: Our Rookie of the Year conversation and choice)

Steve Davis: Let’s talk about Defender of the Year. I’ll make a cappuccino while you boys start. Which is my way of saying, I don’t have a strong opinion about this one, because I’m not quite on board the Victor Bernardez train as solidly as some of our media brethren and, uh, sisteren.

Noah Davis: Rafa Marquez. Oh wait, this is best Defender of the Year? I’ll take Victor Bernardez. Steve, I know you’re not the biggest fan of the big man but the dude bangs bodies. With all the talk of the Quakes goal-scoring wonders, you still need a guy who can make attackers quake in their shoes. Barnardez fits the bill. Plus: just 100k?

Steve Davis: Regarding the 100 large, as Prince once told us, Money Don’t Matter 2nite. Nor in ProSoccerTalk discussion of post-season awards. So, dig, if you will, this picture:

I’m not down on Bernardez, I just don’t love him for the spot. He’s a bit of a hot-head, and he gets dragged out of position here and there. And 43 goals against? Anybody feeling me?

Richard Farley: I’m with both of you. Wait. What?

I don’t feel overly-confident about Bernardez, but I still put him down.

After listing the 5-6 guys who I had ID’d as viable candidates, his pro-con list was most convincing. After going back on all my game notes, seeing where his mistakes stacked up against the competition’s (and taking into account San Jose’s style and quality of opposition), I gave him the nod over Kansas City’s Matt Besler.

It seems like there are a ton of candidates this year, and I’m hesitant to list them all because I know I’ll miss one. L.A.’s Omar Gonzalez will get some love, depending on how much you weigh playing time. Vancouver’s Jay DeMerit may have been the league’s most “valuable” defender. At his best, SKC’s Aurelin Collin overshadowed his more consistent partner. You’ve got Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers in Utah. At this point, I’ve seen a lot of our friends’ ballots, and I can’t really find fault with the array of choices I’ve seen.

Steve Davis: For me, Collin lost his place in this conversation when he lost his place in team’s starting lineup toward the end of the season.

By the way, OG4 played in 14 games. Man, if he had gotten into, say, 20 …

Richard Farley: Shows you how deep the Omar Gonzalez crush is that he has come up in conversations. Note to self (that I’m posting to a national web site?): Stop hanging out on Twitter.

Noah Davis: I like Gonzalez and he clearly makes that team much, much better defensively, but it’s Defender of the Year, not Defender of the Second Half of the Season plus a Little Bit. But he has to be the favorite for next season, no?

Steve Davis: Excuse me, I got distracted while scribbling ‘Omar Gonzalez’ in the margins of my algebra book. Uh, where were we? Richard was saying something about a media crush?

OK, OK, Noah put the kibosh on any OG4 debate. We’ll call him the clear favorite for 2013 then – even if he’s playing at West Ham or Hannover or wherever.

Noah Davis: For the record, I’m not against the award being changed to Defender of the Second Half of the Season plus a Little Bit.

Steve Davis: Sounds like Bernardez, Center Beast from the Bay, has it. … Hope you guys don’t mind. I though the guy needed a solid nickname, so I took the liberty.

Our choice: San Jose’s Victor Bernardez 

  1. calmdownandthink - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    I think Omar missing the first half of the season makes it even more obvious he’s the DOTY. He’s the main reason the Galaxy turned their year around.

    • Steve Davis - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      No argument here … but still VERY difficult to make someone Defender of the Year when he played in less than half the club’s matches.

    • Richard Farley - Oct 30, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      Maybe league’s best defender – I’m with you, there – but not DOTY, in the awards sense.

      • tylerbetts - Oct 30, 2012 at 7:14 PM

        I want to get the “he only played half a season” argument, but there’s another award where I don’t want to see that argument used. And that’s newcomer of the year. And, if you can justify Higuain for newcomer of the year, surely you can justify Gonzalez for Defender of the year.

      • Richard Farley - Oct 30, 2012 at 7:21 PM

        Possibly, but the competition for defender of the year is much stronger. At the same time, your point is a good one.

  2. bobinkc - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    If you guys are just going to go for the half-year thing, then Collin should be heavily favored since he played very aggresively for considerably more than a half year. He was out a big chunk of the last part of the season due to 1) injury, 2) excessive yellow cards, 3) Vermes trying to protect him from more injury and more cards.

    • eatcheson - Oct 30, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      I love SKC and I love Collin, but…I dunno. I honestly think Besler is more valuable to SKC than Collin (witness that SKC was horrible when Besler was out for an appendectomy; when Collin rode the pine for few games this past month, SKC still stayed unbeaten), but OG4 is also I think a half step ahead of Besler.

      Would’ve probably voted (if I had a vote) for Jay DeMerit myself, but Bernardez is a worthy candidate.

      • Richard Farley - Oct 30, 2012 at 3:02 PM

        I was very big on Collin for most of the year, but I ended up putting Besler No. 2 on my ballot. I think Collin’s best moments were beyond Besler’s, but Besler was far more consistent, and I think that showed at the end of the year.

        I do think Collin’s play at the beginning of the season is being forgotten. Even with the questions surrounding his last couple of months, I rated his entire season very highly.

    • Richard Farley - Oct 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      “If you guys are just going to go for the half-year thing, …”

      But, we’re not.

  3. danielofthedale - Oct 30, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    I think this is Jay DeMerit’s award. One reason is that since defenders get very respect in MVP consideration, I think DotY should look at total Value of the Defender. Jay was the heart and soul of the team and I think his leadership after Rennie and Co. tried to torpedo the season is what keep this team’s season alive for one more game. If you take Bernardez or Belser off their team they might not finish first or second in the overall table but they still make the playoffs and have a real shot at the MLS Cup. WIthout Jay Vancouver could have been down in Portland territory.

    • Steve Davis - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:14 AM

      He was on my Best XI, one of three defenders, if that makes you feel a little better.

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