MLS revealed the finalists for each of the 2011 Awards today, and DC United players are all over the ballot. For a team that didn't even make the playoffs, we sure do have some great individual contributors.
Three United players are among the final three nominations for this season's awards. That's tied for the most nominees with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders. Pretty good company. Maybe next year the league will change the rules so that the 10 teams with the most individual nominees will make the playoffs.
It's got to be a good sign for this team's future that we have a player among the rookie of the year finalists for the third year in a row. Reprising Andy Najar's ROTY performance in 2010, Perry Kitchen is a deserving candidate for the award this year. The promising young defender faces some steep competition from CJ Sapong and Michael Farfan.
While David Beckham had to come back from decreasing coverage in tabloid magazines and Dominic Oduro had to come back from sucking throughout the entire rest of his career, United forward Charlie Davies had to come back from life threatening injuries. He could be the favorite to win the Comeback Player Of The Year category.
The MVP Award is wide open though. Golden Boot winner Dwayne De Rosario certainly deserves plenty of consideration with his 16 goals and 12 assists on the year, but discriminating voters may have left him off their ballots due to United failing to reach the playoffs. Brad Davis, on the other hand, has helped take his team to the MLS Cup Final, and he's done it without any star power while leading the league in assists. Brek Shea also had a great season, but faded down the stretch and is probably a fairly distant third behind the other two candidates at this point.
The winners will be revealed in the lead-up to MLS Cup, with the top rookie being announced tomorrow, the comeback player award being announced next Monday, and the MVP being announced next Friday.