MLS has released the finalists for their season end awards and three Seattle Sounders have made the cut. Sigi Schmid has been nominated for Coach of the Year, Mauro Rosales is up for Newcomer of the Year and Kasey Keller gets a nod for Goalkeeper of the Year. Not surprisingly (but still moderately befuddling) no Sounders have been nominated for MVP (nor, for the sake of balance, have any LA Galaxy or Real Salt Lake players.) FC Dallas winger Brek Shea (who faded badly down the stretch and saw his team eliminated in the play-in round of the playoffs,) DC United/New York Red Bulls/Toronto FC midfielder DeWayne DeRosario (who played for two teams that did not make the playoffs and a third that underachieved badly) and Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis (who had an excellent season for an MLS Cup finalist) are the three remaining MVP candidates.
The Coach of the Year award is pretty clearly a two-horse race between Schmid and LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, Arena likely having a slight edge. Peter Vermes of Sporting KC is the final nominee and though his club's second half resurgence was impressive he's clearly a distant third. Keller was still an elite MLS keeper in his final season but there's a definite sense that his inclusion amongst the nominees is a bit of a sentimental choice. That might be enough to carry him through as FC Dallas' Kevin Hartman and the Philadelphia Union's Faryd Mondragon are both excellent keepers but not to the extent that they stand head and shoulders above Keller; the exclusion of Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando is something of a head-scratcher. Mauro Rosales is the clear favorite for Newcomer of the Year; while strikers Eric Hassli of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Luke Rodgers of New York Red Bulls were both fantastic additions to their teams and MLS as a league, Rosales was a class above and arguably the most important player on one of the league's elite teams.
As for MVP, it's entirely possible that the Sounders players that might have been in the mix split the vote. Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso could all have legitimate arguments for deserving the award made in their favor while DeRosario, Shea and Davis are clearly the standout candidates on their respective teams. Ultimately it's another reminder that MVP voting is largely imperfect and that season-end awards shouldn't be taken very seriously at all. These awards mean such different things to so may different people and it shouldn't be especially controversial to point out that the level of knowledge of the league isn't equal amongst those with votes. Like in every league, these awards should be seen as nothing more than a minor diversion; fun if your guys are recognized, fun to debate, but ultimately largely without a whole lot of tangible meaning.