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Award 6: The Freddy

By definition, the Freddy award goes to the player who created the biggest story this year. Not necessarily as a distraction, but just a story that created a lot of buzz and got people talking about the team. The award's namesake Freddy Adu was easily the biggest story for MLS as a whole in the 2004 season. Even though he was never a regular starter for United, he will always remain a part of the team's history as the youngest player ever to play a professional sport in the US at age 14.

The best piece of soccer journalism this season was Steve Goff's piece on Santino Quaranta and his past struggles with drug addiction. This article was mentioned numerous times during United broadcasts on television. My favorite part of the article was about how Olsen and Moreno vouched for Quaranta and convinced the front office to give him another chance. Quaranta's play this year has shown that he deserved it.

Another big story this season revolved around Ben Olsen's ankles, but most of all, his only 15 minutes played this year, emerging to a standing ovation from a packed RFK Stadium. This brief appearance inspired a blog post by Dan Steinberg, which was eventually blown to new proportions with weeks of arguing between soccer fans and elitist fans of other sports. This was followed up eventually by an above-the-fold front cover WaPo Sports story comparing the TV ratings of United and the Nationals.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the theme of the season, which was bringing in foreign acquisitions to replace proven quantities at several positions, highlighted most by the replacement of Christian Gomez with Marcelo Gallardo. This season has of course had its share of highs and lows which, coincidentally or not, also tend to follow the pattern of Gallardo's injuries.

Another underlying theme would be the trials and tribulations of Tom Soehn as head coach of United. There were pleas from United fans to fire Soehn up until around week 8 (not the least of which came from this blog). Soehn then helped rally the troops as they enjoyed a 6 game winning streak, but then has since hit rock bottom once again, with his job remaining in jeopardy going into the final 3 weeks of the regular season.

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(the 2008 Benny Awards)