When D.C. United acquired Bobby Boswell in the offseason, many fans were happy but wary. A former Defender of the Year with D.C. United and a popular player both on and off the field, but Boswell was seemingly on the decline in Houston. Anyone would have been better than the defense United put on the field in 2013, but I didn't imagine that Boswell would be this good. But has he been good enough to win the MLS Defender of the Year award?
Really, there is only one other contender, Chad Marshall of the Seattle Sounders, and the similarities between their two seasons are rampant. Both are former Defenders of the Year, both came to new teams this offseason, both have been fringe national team players at times, and both were thought to be on the decline. Instead, Marshall helped the Seattle Sounders to the Supporters' Shield and Boswell lead D.C. United to the top of the Eastern Conference. They even have the same number of goals and assists!
The Case for Bobby Boswell
He is the best defender on one of the best defenses in the league. Instead of trying to rely on his (lack of) pace, Boswell has used his positioning and awareness to intercept the ball, get to crosses, and make timely tackles. One of his trademark moves is when he steps into the midfield to beat the attacker to a long pass, and he succeeds in doing so at a very high rate. He also does this without picking up fouls or cards. Though it is a worn out trope, he did lead the rebuilding of United's defense after an all-time worst performance last season and seamlessly dealt with bringing along a rookie center back partner midseason. Finally, United's defense gave up 13 less goals than Chad Marshall and the Seattle Sounders.
The Case against Bobby Boswell
The main case against Boswell is that he has a better cast surrounding him. Bill Hamid is a possible Goalkeeper of the Year, Sean Franklin was an All Star this year, Jeff Parke is an MLS veteran, Steve Birnbaum was a first round pick, and Perry Kitchen is getting national team buzz. Whether they should or not, voters will take all of that into consideration.
Chance of winning
40%. I think that Chad Marshall is the slight favorite for this award, because his team did win the Supporter's Shield and the fact that Marshall's supporting cast, especially his partner in central defense and the goalkeeping, have been much worse than what Bobby Boswell has. I think that Boswell deserves the award over Marshall and deserves to be recognized for turning this team around.