D.C. United announced today the club’s end-of-season award winners, with several honors going to 2012 MLS Comeback Player of the Year candidate Chris Pontius.
Pontius, United’s longest tenured player, tops the list by earning the 2012 Volkswagen Most Valuable Player Award, Volkswagen Fans’ Choice Award, Volkswagen Goal of the Year and the club’s Golden Boot.
After an impressive first full season with United in which he set a club record in minutes played (2,963), Brandon McDonald wins the club’s 2012 Defender of the Year Award. Jeff Agoos, the previous record-holder, logged 2,805 minutes during the League’s inaugural 1996 season. Marcelo Saragosa was recognized for his daily commitment to the Black-and-Red by receiving the 2012 Coaches’ Award, while Stephen King takes home the 2012 MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year honor for his work in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan community.
After suffering season-ending injuries in 2010 and 2011, Pontius had a career year in 2012, setting highs in goals (12), games played (31), games started (26), minutes (2,339), shots (71) and shots on goal (29). Six of Pontius’ 12 strikes this season were game-winners, tied for the club record set in 1996 by Steve Rammel and tied for third in MLS 2012.
Pontius captained the squad in place of the injured Dwayne De Rosario, the 2011 Budweiser Golden Boot winner and 2011 MLS MVP. Since De Rosario was sidelined, Pontius led United to a 5-0-2 unbeaten streak to cap off the season and a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference, vaulting the club to its first playoff appearance since 2007.
Pontius’ game-changing performances earned him key awards this season, including MLS Player of the Week in Week 7, becoming the only player to be a two-time unanimous selection by the North American Soccer Reporters. In mid-July, Pontius was chosen to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star roster for the first time and was a part of the squad that defeated Chelsea FC (England) 3-2. Pontius was subsequently voted as the match’s Most Valuable Player after scoring the game-tying goal in the 73rd minute and assisting on Eddie Johnson's game-winner in the 91st.
One of Pontius’s most memorable nights with D.C. United was the April 22 home match against Atlantic Cup foe, the New York Red Bulls, when he notched his first career hat trick in a dominant 4-1 win in front of the RFK faithful. Also against New York, on June 24, Pontius scored the fastest goal in United’s 17-year history with his opener 31 seconds into the game.
Brandon McDonald, acquired mid-season in 2011 via the San Jose Earthquakes, was a stalwart in his first full campaign with the Black-and-Red, starting a team-high 33 times. In addition to his club record for minutes logged, McDonald anchored a defense that registered three shutouts in its final seven matches and averaged 0.71 goals against in the same stretch. Additionally, McDonald’s two goals and four assists was the best cumulative offensive mark among all United fullbacks in 2012.
Marcelo Saragosa was recognized by the D.C. United technical staff for his daily work ethic, as the midfielder earns the 2012 Coaches’ Award. A belated regular to the starting lineup, Saragosa started nine of United’s last 11 matches, scoring a crucial game-tying goal – his first MLS strike since 2008 – in the Black-and-Red’s 3-2 playoff-clinching win over the Columbus Crew on October 20. Saragosa’s drive to crack the starting XI set the tone for his teammates to be just as consistently dedicated and professional. In total, he played 16 games (12 starts), registering 1,120 minutes and tallying one goal and one assist.
The MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year honor was awarded to Stephen King. Throughout the course of the 2012 MLS season, the midfielder has been a leader in the Washington Metropolitan community. His efforts include assembling care packages to deployed military members through USO’s “Operation Care Package,” delivering food to people with life-challenging illnesses as a part of Food and Friends and volunteering his time with United Reads, a literary program under the club’s foundation, United for D.C.
Volkswagen Most Valuable Player: Chris Pontius
Volkswagen Fans’ Choice: Chris Pontius
Golden Boot: Chris Pontius
Volkswagen Goal of the Year: Chris Pontius
Defender of the Year: Brandon McDonald
Coaches’ Award: Marcelo Saragosa
MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year: Stephen King