The Benny Awards continue ever onward, and to day its time to give the Bobby Award, given to the team's most improved player. It's named for former United standout and current Houston Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell, who went from an undrafted rookie to Defender Of The Year in just a two-year stretch.
In a season without much improvement, it was difficult to find a full crop of candidates. Some of these players improved this year over last year, while others improved from what they were at the beginning of the season as compared to what they were at the end of the season. However, I think that all of the candidates improved in some way, shape, or form. The only past winner of this award is the cake-filled Chris Korb.
1. Kyle Porter: Porter was originally signed to be one of the last members of the bench, a role player who was supposed to be an impact sub at best. However, he ended up being tied for the most goals scored on the team when he was asked to start; when he returned to the bench, he provided that spark off the bench that we had hoped he would be all season. His time as a starter was more mixed, but as an impact sub and spot starter I am content with Porter moving forward.
2. Perry Kitchen: Stints in central defense aside, Perry Kitchen has grown into a very good defensive midfielder. This year, he continued that growth even with the rest of the team falling apart around him and also grew into his leadership role as well. With the team needing a new captain next year, I think that Kitchen should be on the shortlist.
3. Ethan White: There were calls for D.C. United to get rid of Ethan White, who was seen as overpriced and a bust as a homegrown player after he couldn't break into the 18 last season when Dejan Jakovic was injured. Those calls continued when he couldn't get a start despite United's horrific defense this season. But when he finally got his opportunity, he seized it with both hands and became the best defender on the team. Should United get a center defender in the offseason, there will be a barn-burner of a competition between Jakovic and White to see who gets to start next season (should Dejan still be around).
4. Michael Seaton: Seaton's improvement was likely missed by many of you, since it happened down in a city called Richmond. But in his first few games, Seaton was as much of a mess as you might expect a 17-year-old homegrown player to be: he was easily muscled off the ball, he allowed central defenders to get into his head, and he was wasteful with his chances. But with more game experience came more confidence, and Seaton ended up using his physicality and speed to his advantage, scoring five goals and adding one assist.