The Esky Award is named for Alecko Eskandarian, former D.C. United forward whose career was cut short due to concussions. Eskandarian vaulted into fan favorite territory with his spitting out the Red Bull goal celebration, which remains one of the best goal celebrations in team history. This award isn't for the best player of the season (that comes later), but for the one for whom you have the most warmth, the most happiness, the most joy. Past winners of this award include Jaime Moreno. Chris Pontius, and LEWIS NEAL.
1. Fabian Espindola: Whatever forward/mad genius Fabian Espindola felt like trying this season, there was always at least a small chance that it would somehow work. Until the playoffs, where he might have been trying a bit too hard, Espindola had a magical season, combining for 20 goals and assists and making himself a darkhorse MVP candidate until his injury. The highlight of his year might have been that Montreal game, where he put in three assists in one half despite playing on a screwed up knee.
2. Bill Hamid: Hamid took the next step this season, turning from a great shot-stopper into a great all-around goalkeeper, and was rewarded by a spot in the Best XI and the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award. He made his saves look so easy, even though he would have been the only keeper in the league who could make them, that he was snubbed repeatedly for Save of the Week. Some of my favorites: the double save against the Philadelphia Union and keeping Wondo and Alan Gordon out against SJ.
3. Perry Kitchen: Another young player who took at step up in 2014, Perry Kitchen added some offensive prowess to his game. Coming into this season with a career two goals and five assists, Kitchen provided five goals and four assists while developing a masterful partnership with Davy Arnaud. Between them, they were able to shut down opposing midfields while creating chances for their teammates.
4. Chris Rolfe: He only came to the team in April, but he changed the season for D.C. United. Whether he played on the left wing, a position he rarely played on these shores, or as a striker, Rolfe created chances, scored goals, and gave this team a well needed injection of creativity that it missed without Chris Pontius. Also, headbands are magic.
5. Angry Joe Willis: Joe Willis himself didn't get too much time on the field this year (spending much of it in Richmond), but Angry Joe Willis took the internet by storm. A genuinely nice (and goofy) guy, we will miss him as he plies his trade in Houston.
There are the candidates: who is your fan favorite player for 2014? Remember, MVP will be coming soon.