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WPS announces 2009 year end awards

Women’s Professional Soccer will hand out its inaugural year-end awards tonight at the All-Star Gala in Saint Louis, honoring the Michelle Akers Player of the Year, the MedImmune Defender of the Year, the Goalkeeper of the Year and the AdvoCare Coach of the Year, among others.

The ballots for every category are completely stacked with high qualityplayers that all made significant contributions to their respectiveteams and to WPS.

However, there are a few that stood out to The Equalizer as clear-cut choices for their performances this season.

Choosing the best defender in the league was the hardest of the bunch. Boston’s Amy LePeilbet was the top overall vote-getter for the All-Star Game, but the Breakers failed to even make the playoffs.

Looking at the league table, Los Angeles and Saint Louis were clearlytwo superior defensive teams, giving up just ten and 15 goals, respectively, in 20 matches.  While a lot of that had to do with the goalkeepers for each team, that is a separate argument.

For defensive purposes, that brings the award down to the Sol’s Allison Falk and Athletica’s Tina Ellertson.  And the award goes to….

Tina Ellertson

Here’s the reasoning behind that: Take Falk away from Los Angeles and there is still Brittany Bock and Stephanie Cox on that backline, two players that could help maintain a very high level of defense.

Take Ellertson away from Saint Louis and Athletica loses a big part ofits defense and the start of its attack.  Ellertson did well to push into the midfield and generate offense from the back, making her themost important defender to her respective team.

The next toughest award to select was the AdvoCare Coach of the Year, which realistically had several contenders even though every coach was nominated.

Sky Blue FC’s Interim Player/Coach Christie Rampone is the most interesting of the choices.  She only served as coach for two regular season games (five total), but she did lead her team to a championship.

The less controversial and more realistic options are Los Angeles’ Abner Rogers and Saint Louis’ Jorge Barcellos.  And the winner is…

Jorge Barcellos

Quite frankly, Barcellos made a great team out of a lot less than Rogers had to work with in Los Angeles.

LA was loaded with talent all over the field, while Barcellos helped Athletica players develop into role players around the likes of Eniola Aluko, Lori Chalupny and even Hope Solo in net.  Combine that with the fact that Barcellos helped drag Athletica – a team that nobody expected much out of – from the basement of the league to a Super Semifinal appearance and he is The Equalizer’s choice for Coach of the Year.

Goalkeeper of the Year is another award that is a two-horse racebetween a Sol and an Athletica player.  There is LA’s Karina LeBlanc and Saint Louis’ Hope Solo.

Again, based on what the team had to work with, The Equalizer’s vote goes to Solo.

Granted, LeBlanc had 12 shutouts compared to Solo’s eight and put up a .53 goals against average compared to Solo’s .82 GAA.

However, Solo’s contribution to Athletica was more intangible as she produced huge saves throughout the season, highlighted by a spectacular performance in the team’s 1-0 Super Semifinal loss to Sky Blue FC.  She was stellar all season and arguably the best goalkeeper in the league, granting her the Goalkeeper of the Year award in this site’s opinion.

By now, it would be easy to think I am a Saint Louis Athletica employee, but I swear I am not.  In no way do I expect all three of those awards to go to Athletica players, but this is how I voted in my media ballot.

Finally comes the Michelle Akers Player of the Year Award, “awarded to the player judged to have the greatest impact on her team’s performance during the WPS regular season.”

The description of the award as being one that honors a player who helped her team the most and not ‘the best’ player in the league really decides the award pretty easily for me.

Eniola Aluko, Sonia Bompastor, Lori Chalupny, Marta, Hope Solo and Abby Wambach are all stiff competition, but Shannon Boxx is the player that held the Los Angeles Sol together.

Boxx was the ultimate two-way midfielder for Los Angeles, pushing into the attack and looking like a play-making midfielder  while still covering for her defenders and dropping into the backline when called upon.

A classic midfielder should be the player that is the engine of theteam – the one whose play will determine the rest of the team’s play – and that is exactly what Shannon Boxx was for Los Angeles, making her the choice for the Michelle Akers Player of the Year.

And a quick thought on the Hint Water Sportswoman of the Year: If the league does not give it to Christie Rampone, something is very, very wrong.

And the Awards Go To…

Women’s Professional Soccer announced Saturday that Los Angeles Sol forward Marta has been named the 2009 Michelle Akers Player of the Year.

The league also announced the winners of five other awards, including the 2009 PUMA Golden Boot Award, also presented to Marta for leading the league with ten goals in 19 games.

Below is a full breakdown of the awards handed out on Saturday.  As evident from today’s previous post, only two of the five choices made by The Equalizer came out to be the same as the voting (Golden Boot was already decided).

What do you think?  Does Marta deserve to be the Michelle Akers Player of the Year?  What did you like or not like about these selections?  Sound off below.

2009 PUMA Golden Boot Award
Marta (F)                                 Los Angeles Sol

2009 MedImmune Defender of the Year
Amy LePeilbet (D)                 Boston Breakers

2009 Coast Guard Goalkeeper of the Year
Hope Solo (GK)                      Saint Louis Athletica

2009 AdvoCare Coach of the Year
Abner Rogers                          Los Angeles Sol

2009 Hint Water Sportswoman of the Year
Christie Rampone (D)             Sky Blue FC

2009 Michelle Akers Player of the Year Award
Marta (F)                                 Los Angeles Sol

Comments… read them below or post one
Anonymous said…
I refer to the splendid job of Sonia bompastor and Aluko. The play shown by marta is far from her abilities, there must be no doubt other factors inhibiting the maid. Either she is not happy in teh group or mr Rogers is a third rate tactician coach. I guess both.
Anonymous said…
I agree on not voting for Marta. She is obviously one of the best players in the world (if not the best), but I don’t think the impact she had on her team was more significant than even teammate Shannon Boxx or a player like Hope Solo, as you mentioned. The fact is, she had a lot to work with in LA. -Jeff
Anonymous said…
I didn’t vote for Marta for Player of the Year. I voted for Hope Solo. If it wasn’t for Solo then the Athletica wouldn’t have gotten anywhere this season.
Anonymous said…
Amy LePeilbet is the right choice for defender of the year. She anchored the Breaker’s back line, worked seamlessly with defenders and midfield and always found the right spot, made the right touch. Coming back from an injury like hers for such a remarkable season is quite a story.

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