One of this year's nominees may surprise you.
When a team makes its triumphant return to the playoffs after a 5-year absence, and when a team overcomes scores of adversity to best its biggest rival, it's hard to be disappointed. D.C. United advanced farther and enjoyed more success than many could have imagined in 2012. And yet things still could have been better. Certain players in particular surely could have been better.
Today we begin voting on The Donnety, an award that is presented to the biggest disappointment on the 2012 roster. This award should be given to the player that gave us the least amount of production relative to his apparent potential. In years past, this award went to such triumphant superstars as Christian Castillo, Danny Szetela, and the terrifying one-two punch of Zach Wells and Jose Carvallo.
Unlike those players of previous years, every player nominated here is actually a good player. Every player on this list is a capable MLS starter. And every player on this list might actually be back with the team in 2013. Your nominees are:
1. Emiliano Dudar came to the league with an elite resume, and seemed likely to both compete to be a member of the MLS Best XI, and at least unseat one of the returning D.C. center backs from his starting role. Dudar did neither, winding up as a bench player with only 11 appearances.
2. Similarly, we had high hopes for Hamdi Salihi when the Albanian Bomber signed with United. He came to the league averaging roughly half a goal per match in his European career, and threatened to be an even more versatile scoring option that Luciano Emilio was in his time here. But Salihi's versatility wasn't as evident here in the U.S. as several of his six goals came from Salihi being merely in the right place at the right time.
3. We didn't necessarily have high hopes for Lionard Pajoy when he arrived in D.C. With three goals and an assist, Pajoy's Production to Expected Production ratio would probably be higher than Salihi's. Instead, our disappointment in Pajoy came on a weekly basis. Even if we weren't disappointed in his performance as a whole, he was still guaranteed to give us at least a couple disappointing moments in every match.
4. I struggled with deciding on the fourth nominee, but from a pure statistical perspective, this should be an obvious choice. After scoring five goals in each of his first two MLS seasons, Andy Najar finished 2012 without a single goal. He did manage to contribute four assists, but may have actually taken a step back this year in terms of his attacking ability. Najar emerged unexpectedly as one of the best defenders on the team, but he had a pretty disappointing year statistically.
And the winner of the 2012 Donnety Award is...
Emiliano Dudar (21 votes)
Hamdi Salihi (81 votes)
Lionard Pajoy (17 votes)
Andy Najar (7 votes)
126 total votes