After a massive overhaul last year, D.C. United made fewer changes this year over last. And with only one obvious rookie candidate, the awards committee has decided to merge the Nelly Award, for best Newcomer, with the Andy Award, for best rookie. The Nelly, of course, is named after Ryan Nelsen, former D.C. United captain, MLS Cup winner, and former coach of Toronto FC. Past winners of this award include Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva, Branko Boskovic, Louis Crayton, Dejan Jakovic, and Lionard Pajoy.
Past winners of the Andy Award, for the team's best rookie, award include the aforementioned Andy Najar, Steve Birnbaum, Nick DeLeon, Chris Pontius, Perry Kitchen, and Ryan Cordeiro (?). The voting is the same, just combining the pools; should circumstances dictate, we can return to separate awards in the future. All of that is to say this: who was the best player this year who wasn't on the team last year?
- Markus Halsti: Signed from the Swedish powerhouse Malmo FF, Halsti brought Champions League experience to D.C. United and was expected to be a key player. However, injuries and an onslaught of games kept him out of the first team until August, when Davy Arnaud went down with injury. From then until the end of the season, he paired with Perry Kitchen in a central midfield that took some time to figure out.
- Alvaro Saborio: Acquired midseason, Saborio was brought in to try and jumpstart D.C. United's sputtering attack. In 12 games, he scored 4 goals; half of those were as a super-sub late in the season. He gave D.C. United a more traditional forward pairing with Fabian Espindola, though he often had more impact off of the bench rather than starting.
- Jairo Arrieta: Key to D.C. United's early season tight-rope act, when Fabian Espindola was suspended, he scored five goals in the first three months of the season. However, those were his only five goals of the season; the balance of the year saw only one more assist from Arrieta. Currently not under contract, but may be back next season on lower salary.
- Miguel Aguilar: D.C. United's first round draft pick started off the preseason with a beautiful goal and was D.C. United's best player in the Concacaf Champions League. He got into half of D.C. United's regular season games, and also played in two games for the Richmond Kickers. A good first year, but hopefully he can force his way into more minutes next season.