[MLS] On Wednesday, MLS will announced its AT&T Goal of the Year and NAPA Save of the Year. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney makes his picks ...
During the season, weekly voting determines the best goal and best save for that round of play.
From those 30 finalists another phase of voting determines the yearly winners. If more than one spectacular goal or save is recorded in the same week, tough luck, only one in each category per week makes the cut.
For the past few days mlssoccer.com has been narrowing down the list of finalists, like a beauty pageant, by naming the runner-ups.
For Goal of the Year, the top five are:
3. Shea Salinas
4. Rafa Marquez
5. Fredy Montero (free kick in Week 5)
The Save of the Year near-misses are:
2. Donovan Ricketts
3. Nick Rimando (week 20)
4. Eddie Gaven
5. Brad Knighton
I would have picked Juninho's blast from distance into the top corner for Goal of the Year, but since it's already been downgraded, I'll take the Chicago Fire's Logan Pause from Week 7 -- a short, seemingly benign give-and-go well outside the box produced an amazing, swerving missile high into the side netting, an incredible goal for the Fire against Toronto at BMO Field..
As for the save department, well, there's several candidates with multiple nominations. Jimmy Nielsen, Kasey Keller, Sean Johnson and Rimando are all so honored. There are also a few by defenders as well as Gaven's stand-in save on the final weekend of the regular season.
Again, my pick is among the also-rans: Rimando's save from Week 20, a full-extension parry of a swerving shot destined for the top far corner in a 2-0 RSL defeat of Columbus. So Keller's remarkable stab of an awkward, low, point-blank shot in Week 4 will suffice.