And The Colorado Rapids' Awards Go To ...?
With the end of the MLS regular season comes the keenly observed end of season awards, and the Colorado Rapids will unveil their recipients at next Tuesday’s A Burgundy Affair.
The evening, to be staged inside The Seawell Ballroom - which is part of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts - returns as an in-person event after last year’s event was held virtually due to Covid restrictions.
Last year, 10 player awards were handed out, with homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett collecting a hat-trick. He was named C38 MVP, Players’ Player of the Year, and Young Player of the Year after his five goals and five assists in 2020.
The MVP award has not strayed too far from Jack Price in recent times, but - as with many of the awards this year - there is likely to be greater competition.
So, let’s have a look at some of the awards and potential candidates.
C38 Defensive Player of the Year Last year this one went to Sam Vines. He departed in the summer for Royal Antwerp and left behind a defensive back line which has been dogged for much of the season. This category could also be hotly contested. William Yarbrough has kept a club record 13 shutouts.
Danny Wilson has been the leader and level head in the heart of the back line, while Auston Trusty (right) has blossomed and displayed great maturity and versatility. And there is Lalas Abubakar, sometimes making Rapids fans a little nervous with his no-nonsense approach, but also warming their hearts with his no-nonsense approach. If we're recognizing Yarbrough, Abubakar, Trusty, and Wilson, then we mustn't leave out Keegan Rosenberry - Mr Reliable - who has been effective at both ends of the field, highlighted by his two goals and three assists.
C38 MVP Who’s had a great season, and who is also adored by the supporters? Could be the assist king, Jack Price. Michael Barrios has led the line up top and scored a few top-drawer goals. The midfield engine that is Kellyn Acosta gives everything whenever he steps on the field. Yarbrough may come into the chatter for this one, also.
MVP As with above, there are a few contenders. Numbers don't lie, and so Price, Barrios, Yarbrough should be in the reckoning for this one as well.
Golden Boot Unless Diego Rubio (5) or Jonathan Lewis (5) snatch a hat-trick against LAFC, then this one goes to Michael Barrios (8).
Players' Player of the Year The players’ choice, and awarded to the teammate who is that fella in the locker room, on the training field, on the team bus, the away trips, and everywhere in between, who is that beacon of positivity. It may not be someone who has played every minute. It may not even be someone who has contributed a whole lot of goals or assists. It could just be that player who puts everyone else first. Contenders with that criteria in mind? Lalas Abubakar, Kellyn Acosta, Drew Moor, Auston Trusty, Danny Wilson.
Fan Favorite This is a tricky one. Last year it went to Andre Shinyashiki. Fans returned to the stadium this season, and so who will have caught their eye? In a year when so many Rapids players have shone, this is a tough one to call. They’ve all been heroes. But, if we’re to pick some hopefuls, then Price, Barrios, Yarbrough, and maybe even Braian Galvan as an outside option.
Defensive Player of the Year Abubakar walked off with this prize 12 months ago, and he will again be a contender for someone who gives his all every game, is that enforcer, and never shies away from a tackle. But the favorite for this one has to be goalkeeper Yarbrough, who will finish the year as one of the leading ‘keepers in all of MLS. He heads into Sunday’s game level with Joe Willis on a league-high 13 shutouts.
Young Player of the Year For this one, I see two candidates; one of them being last year’s recipient Cole Bassett (left), with his four goals and three assists. He has also gone over 2000 minutes in a season for the first time, more than double his previous high, set in 2019 (1063). Braian Galvan, in his first full season, has scored a couple of beauties. He also had both assists in the recent 2-0 home win over Portland Timbers.
Other awards from 2020: Humanitarian of the Year and Academy Player of the Year.
About the author: Richard Fleming is in his ninth season covering the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer. During 16 years with the BBC, he covered two FIFA World Cups, five Africa Cup of Nations, a FIFA Confederations Cup, and a European Championship. He has also covered UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, and football at all levels of the game during more than 30 years covering the sport.