2017 is officially in the books for FC Dallas as of last Friday when the team concluded training for the final time this year. Our staff decided to wait until that moment to release our end of the year awards for the team. We’ve already done a Workhorse of the Year winner and now we’ll unveil our other three awards.
MVP - Michael Barrios
Our staff was completely split on this one as you can see below. In the end, Barrios won the vote, but just barely.
Scott Hiney - Frankly, this doesn’t make sense to me. Mikey had a very solid year, don’t get me wrong. He posted 10 more assists (14) than he had in his first two MLS seasons combined (4). But, if there’s a consensus — or at least enough agreement to hand out an award — that Maxi Urruti was the team’s OPOY, this award must also go to him.
If the MVP winner was a midfield-type player who contributed more than just in the attacking third, I’d understand. But in 2017, FC Dallas was unbeaten in games where Urruti assisted or scored, Barrios, can’t say that.
Mohammad Bushnaq - Let’s calm down a bit, Scott. When I was voting for MVP, I wanted the individual who was a little more consistent. Urruti had one goal since July 4th. That’s not MVP material to me. 14 assists for Barrios is also more than 12 goals and, for the record, Mikey had four assists in the same stretch that Maxi had one goal. Hedges was maddeningly inconsistent, Acosta faded after the summer call-ups, Jesse was steady but nowhere near spectacular, and Mauro was a shadow of himself. I think Barrios was the only logical pick, but that is really not saying much for a team that was awful from July onward.
Jared Tilley - I agree and voted like Scott. Assists don’t mean as much to me in MLS as opposed to other leagues around the globe. Those hockey assists really inflate the stats, leading to a false sense of accomplishment. Not to take anything away from Mikey, but the moment the goals dried up for Maxi was more or less the same time the team started their free fall in the standings.
Offensive Player of the Year - Maxi Urruti
This one was a little more cut and dry for our team with Maxi earning the majority of the votes.
Scott Hiney - I totally agree with this. Like I said above, FC Dallas was 7-0-5 (26 points) in games where Urruti scored or assisted and assuming Barrios is the other candidate for this nod, that’s four points better than Michael’s 6-2-4 (22 points) mark.
Urruti continued to prove how invaluable of a pickup he was in the re-entry draft in 2017. He averaged a goal or assist in essentially every other start and has now combined for 30 total league goals and assists while with the club. His only knock this past season was the nine straight starts he went goalless to end the season, but in his defense, the team only scored 12 goals total in that span — five of which were scored in the season finale.
El Chico Carmona - I voted for Urruti, and while I should be heaping praise on him, I just can't. Let's be honest here, it was slim pickings. Your only choices were a player who's goals dried up sometime in July, a player with many assists who couldn't score himself, and a player who scored all his goals in a handful of matches.
Urruti then becomes the obvious choice, but I'm not happy about it.
Defensive Player of the Year - Jesse Gonzalez
For some, this was the surprise winner of the lot with Jesse picking up nearly half of the team’s vote.
Mohammad Bushnaq - I am pretty sure this is one that Jesse won by default as the only dependable presence in the FC Dallas defense. Like I said above, nobody on the defensive side of the field merited consideration for the MVP award, so Jesse was the logical pick. For a team that allowed 8 and 9 more goals than the previous two years respectively, this is an area that needs a lot of work in the off-season.
El Chico Carmona - It may be ludicrous to consider anyone other than Matt Hedges, but Jesse was the one consistent performer week in and week out. As bad as the final months were for FCD, it would have been worst without Jesse playing at such a high level. It was the easiest pick of the 3 to make.
Jared Tilley - For me, this was the easiest choice out of all the different awards. Jesse was great this year. When people look back to this year, it probably won’t be seen in a positive light, which won’t be fair to Jesse. He was outstanding. He was consistently making incredible saves to keep the team in games. Part of me wonders how much more embarrassing the second half of the season would have been without him. I am really looking forward to seeing him continue his growth into a top-notch keeper.