By definition, the Nelly Award goes to the United player who has made the most significant positive impact in his first year with the club. The award’s namesake Ryan Nelsen became a starter shortly into his first season with United, and would go on to guide the team to an MLS Cup in 2004.
It’s a testament to the total failure of our 2008 acquisitions that not one of last year’s nominees is still on the team. The winner, Louis Crayton, was the only player to make it onto the roster at the start of 2009, only to lose his job to one of this year’s contenders.
- Josh Wicks has earned 5 shutouts in 18 starts for DC this season, and has at times looked like one of the top goalkeepers in MLS. Wicks is a good shot stopper and controls his box well. It’s only because of some mental errors and a bad temper that leads some fans to question whether or not he is a long-term solution. I’d put my money on Josh Wicks to win a fight against any other goalkeeper in the league.
- Dejan Jakovic joined the team this off-season from the famed Serbian club Red Star Belgrade, and also looks to have earned a starting role for the Canadian National Team. This young defender has taken a leadership role in our backline, and has the patience to distribute out of the back without turning the ball over (a rare quality on this team). It’s hard to imagine how poor DC would be without Jakovic, but it might also be hard to give this award to any defender when United is still the fourth worst team in the league in goals against.
- Chris Pontius the rookie from UCSB has appeared in all but one league match this season, and gives the team a versatile option at either forward or midfielder. With 4 goals and 2 assists on the season, Pontius has looked best when playing up front with good service from Quaranta on the wing.
- Rodney Wallace the rookie from Maryland has appeared in all but one league match this season, and gives the team a versatile option anywhere in the midfield. Wallace’s aggression, speed, and fitness level has benefited him even when occasionally filling in at CDM, but he has done the most damage (3 goals, 3 assists) from the left wing.
Please enter your votes now through the end of the season, and feel free to argue for your choice in the comments section.
Up next: The Convey – Who is DC United’s rookie of the year?