WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 19, 2009) - Several D.C. United players have been nominated for end of the year Major League Soccer awards. To begin the voting process, please click here:
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Please find information below on D.C. United’s top candidates. You can view a highlight video for each player here:
Please also consider the following when voting for this year’s award winners:
Newcomer of the Year - Dejan Jakovic
Following a year playing with Red Star Belgrade of the Serbian Superliga, Dejan Jakovic signed with D.C. United in February. The Croatian-born defender immediately stepped into the starting centerback role for the Black-and-Red, taking control of Tom Soehn’s three-man backline. Jakovic has shown an ability to put in a bruising tackle one moment, before deftly sliding past an opponent with a perfectly timed interception in the next. It is this balance that has led to him starting every League game he has played in (22) and every single minute in each of those games (1,980). His League season was interrupted briefly during the summer months when - due to his stellar play in DC - he was awarded with a call-up to the Canada National Team for the Gold Cup. The 24-year old made three appearances as Canada went 2-1-1 in the tournament. In all competitions for United, Jakovic has played in 27 games (25 starts) this season.
VISA Defender of the Year - Bryan Namoff
Largely generalized as a steady right-sided defender, Bryan Namoff has emerged from the shadows this season as a legitimate candidate for MLS Defender of the Year. Once again, Namoff's iron-like qualities remained intact until a late-season concussion sidelined him. Through 26 League matches, all starts, Namoff provided a team-high 2,326 minutes, anchoring a vastly improved back-line. Namoff enjoyed a career year going forward, as well. The nine-year MLS veteran scored twice on quality set pieces and assisted on four other occasions. His diving header July 18 against Colorado earned Namoff MLS Goal of the Week honors.
Gatorade Rookie of the Year - Chris Pontius
D.C. United fans knew they had a special player on the team after just 62 minutes of the 2009 MLS season had been played. It was in the 62nd minute of D.C.’s season-opener against the LA Galaxy that rookie Chris Pontius collected a ball deep in the left corner in the offensive third, slid by one Galaxy defender and struck a perfect bending ball to the far upper corner and past the outstretched hands of the goalkeeper to put United up 2-0. The 22-year old hasn’t stopped since. His non-stop work ethic was most evident when, in the last minute of a 90-minute performance in the team’s 3-2 win over the Red Bulls, with temperatures above 100 degrees on the field, Pontius made a 40-yard run through the middle of New York’s defense to latch on to a loose ball in the goal box and put in the game-winner. In addition to bringing energy and bite to the field, Pontius has been used in nearly every offensive position on the field. Able to play as a forward or in any midfield spot, Pontius has played in 27 League games (22 starts), through Oct. 12. In all competitions, his numbers are even more impressive: 37 games played, 28 starts, seven goals, six assists.
Gatorade Rookie of the Year - Rodney Wallace
Though he turned 21 midway through United’s 2009 campaign, D.C. United’s Rodney Wallace has shown a composure that belies his lack of professional experience coming into his rookie season. The Costa Rican native, able to play either as a defender or in the midfield, has quietly become one of the steadiest players on the talent-laden Black-and-Red squad, and has been rewarded by playing the third most minutes on the team (2,175 through Oct. 19). With three goals and three assists in 27 League games (24 starts), Wallace has provided a offensive spark to go along with his tough-nosed defense. His versatility has seen the University of Maryland product used at left midfield, as a left back and as a defensive midfielder. Whereas most young players hit a “rookie wall” during their first season, Wallace has gotten better throughout the campaign - all this, despite playing in 38 games (30 starts) in all competitions.
Comeback Player of the Year - Ben Olsen
In 2008, a D.C. United side that planned to again compete for Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup titles fell short of expectations in League play. Apologists largely point to the absence of Ben Olsen in the midfield. While providing only a token, late-game appearance against the Galaxy in June of that season, Olsen spent a full calendar year recovering from a series of surgeries on creaky ankles.
As Olsen began the 2009 preseason, doubts remained as to whether the United legend would ever see a return to the playing field, much less provide the backbone to a club that desperately missed his energy, grit and spirit. The doubts were put to rest as Olsen started in Los Angeles on opening day. The 32-year-old midfielder has gone on to start in 18 of 19 League games played this season (through Oct. 12), totaling a rugged 1,326 minutes on the campaign. His season may be highlighted by a late-game goal, which gained United a point in drawing with New England, but United's resurgence this season is marked by the club's heart and soul having returned to the center of the park.
Devon McTavish - Humanitarian of the Year
On a team that prides itself on strong community efforts, Devon McTavish has put forth an unprecedented amount of time and commitment to serving the area, highlighted by his work for those with Crohn’s disease.
Having Crohn’s disease himself, Devon has helped promote the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and Patient Services Incorporated through a wide variety of efforts, including donating funds and supporting a CCFA night at RFK Stadium. As Honorary Chair of the National Capitol Area Take Steps Walk, McTavish challenged fans to help the cause and, in so doing, helped to raise thousands of dollars for the fight against Crohn’s.
On the National Day of Service and Remembrance, he helped with the “Operation Kid Comfort” program, making quilts and pillows for the children of deployed servicemen. McTavish also recorded a public service announcement for the Century Council on the dangers of underage drinking. He has helped to raise money and awareness about soccer goalpost safety following the tragic death of a young soccer player who hailed from his hometown of Winchester, VA. Going above and beyond in reaching out to the community, McTavish continually helps out at children’s hospitals, elementary schools and soccer camps. This humble humanitarian is making the most of his opportunity to serve the community.
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