We take a brief pause here from Seattle Sounders Hate-Fest 2012 (which will resume later this evening) to introduce a new B&RU feature - the D.C. United Player Of The Month Award. The writers and readers alike will have a chance to vote for the Player Of The Month, and I'll be adding a shiny widget to the left sidebar once our voting this month is complete.
But before you vote below, read the thoughts from the B&RU writers.
Benuski: My player of the month is Daniel Woolard, the much maligned left back. Everyone, including your B&RU writers, were calling for new left back to challenge and or replace Woolard throughout the offseason. But after being benched, likely unfairly, Woolard has put in his best two performances in a United uniform, proving to be a lock down left back (albeit in a small sample size). Camilo Sanvezzo? Brek Shea? They cower before the might of Woolard. He is definitely not the sexiest United player, but if he can keep it up, he may end up our most important defender at the end of the year.
Chest: My POTM ended up being a simple choice. Left midfielder Nick DeLeon, despite being a rookie, has been nothing but impressive since debuting as a late sub against the LA Galaxy. He notched a quality goal in that game, and has since been a threat creating chances for others as well as going to goal himself. His audacious choice to shoot from a narrow angle against FC Dallas ended up being the gamewinning goal on the night, and he also had the assist on Danny Cruz's goal as well as a powerful volley that Kevin Hartman's save turned onto the crossbar.
It's not just DeLeon's attacking play that catches the eye. His work defensively - in terms of work rate, tackling, and positioning - has been a factor in the recent improvement from left back Daniel Woolard. The fact that DeLeon can pinch inside when we don't have the ball helps United keep the midfield compact, which shuts down passing lanes and forces teams to play lower-percentage passes. In an inconsistent month for D.C., DeLeon has been a sure provider of quality.AMT: In a season where every goal-scorer on D.C. United began the season as second-choice, is it any surprise that my player of the month is a guy who normally has "reserve" attached to his name? Only he's not one of those aforementioned goal-scorers. He's the guy who's kept us in games and put us in position for those guys' goals to mean something. My player of the month for March is Joe Willis.
Martin: Only one player has scored a goal in more than one game this year for United. That player is Nick DeLeon, and he's got my vote.
Coming on as a substitute in the LA Galaxy match, DeLeon proved that he should have been on the field from the beginning, scoring a goal in his first few minutes of MLS action, and hopefully beginning what could be an illustrious career. His go-ahead goal against FC Dallas came at a tough angle, and his cross to Cruz to set up another goal was the result of high work ethic and impressive agility. Player Of The Month will be just the first of numerous awards for DeLeon this season. He could have MLS Rookie Of The Year wrapped up by August.