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The Richie Award, for D.C. United's most underrated player of the year

All of these players were flying under the radar in one way or another, whether it was the manner in which the came here, their status at the beginning of the season, or the fact that we have taken him for granted.

We kick off this year's Benny Awards season with the Richie Award, which is given to the most underrated player of the year. It is named named defensive midfielder Richie Williams, whose contributions were often overshadowed by names such as Marco Etcheverry, Raul Diaz Arce, and Jaime Moreno, but who was an important part of those early teams. Past winners of the award include Chris Korb, Julius James, Bryan Namoff, and Clyde Simms.

The nominees:

1. Jared Jeffrey: Jared Jeffrey came with little expectations and little fanfare; he didn't even drum up enough interest to be entered into a weighted lottery, so D.C. United was able to snag him off of waivers instead. But Jeffrey has shown flashes of being the better replacement for John Thorrington, the box to box midfielder who can complement Perry Kitchen. His long range goal against Toronto FC got everyone excited, but it is his passing that is the most underrated part of his game.

2. Kyle Porter: He was originally supposed to be an impact sub, signed from FC Edmonton of the NASL to be depth that pushed the established starters. But Kyle Porter performed decently when thrust into a starting role, even though his effectiveness waned and brought down everyone's opinion on him. His substitute performances at the end of the season, however, reaffirmed his usefulness to the team and probably won him a role for next season.

3. Ethan White: Throughout the off-season and the beginning of this season, there were calls for Ethan White to either step up or be cut. And then, without anyone realizing or noticing since the season was already over, White turned into the best defender on the team.

4. Bill Hamid: Hamid has been D.C. United's starting goalkeeper since the middle of 2010, is a fringe national team player, and will likely go overseas in the next season or two and net the team a seven figure transfer fee. Despite all of that, there are always calls for him to be sold faster or to be benched for Joe Willis. Hamid is easily the best goalkeeper on this team and one of the best goalkeepers (as for only the D.C. United portion of their career) in team history. This year, his Open Cup performance alone got him nominated for a number of other awards, but some people don't seem to realize how lucky we are to have him.