We have reached the end of the Benny Awards season, so there is only one more award to give out: The Etchy Award, given to D.C. United's most valuable player. The award is obviously named after El Diablo himself, Marco Etcheverry, who was the catalyst of those early D.C. United teams and who was named the MLS MVP in 1998. Past winners of this award include Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, Jaime Moreno, and Dejan Jakovic.
1. Bill Hamid: The best goalkeeper in the league this year, and one of the best homegrown players in the history of the league. If you had replaced him with someone like Joe Bednik, D.C. United would have probably lost three to four more games this season (and have not qualified for the 2014-2015 Concacaf Champions League). As I said yesterday, don't take any of Hamid's appearances for granted, because each one means he is one step closer to leaving for overseas.
2. Bobby Boswell: The rock of D.C. United's defense and the team's captain, Boswell transformed United from one of the worst defenses to one of the best in the space of one year (though he had some help). The runner up for Defender of the Year and a member of the MLS Best XI, it is like Boswell never left.
3. Fabian Espindola: The mad genius of the offense, Fabian Espindola was involved in almost every D.C. United attack. With a combined 20 goals and assists, he would have been a darkhorse MVP candidate if not for he who must not be named (Felipe!). He proved what Dwayne De Rosario did in 2011, but is young enough that he should be able to continue it for a couple more years.
4. Chris Rolfe: Something changed after Chris Rolfe arrived in D.C. Before Rolfe, the team lost two games and tied one game, still trying to figure themselves out. After Rolfe arrived, the team began to hit on all cylinders. His partnership with Espindola, whether from the left wing or from the forward line, provided United with an offensive threat not seen in recent years. He also pushes players like Chris Pontius and Luis Silva to be better, and there is always the magic headband.
5. Perry Kitchen: D.C. United has not won a game without Perry Kitchen on the field in years, which should say enough about his importance to the team. But this season, in addition to his usual command of the midfield, he added an offensive streak heretofore unseen in his game. If he can cut down the cards, he will cement his position as one of the top central midfielders in the league; are you watching, Jurgen?