Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Sapong gets nod in tight rookie race
by Ridge Mahoney, October 21st, 2011 12:39AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS AWARDS FINAL FIVE] It's getting tougher and tougher for MLS rookies coming out of college to get regular time in their first pro seasons.

MLS has opened the doors to more foreign players and enticed teams to develop their own young talent through expanded rosters, academy programs and revival of the Reserve Division. It can be especially difficult for college attackers, since many teams prefer to fill those slots with more proven and experienced players.

Still, about a dozen rookies have established themselves in the first team, and while No. 1 pick Omar Salgado has played little for Vancouver, many of those taken in the first two rounds have done enough to earn consideration as the best of the best in 2011.

Several top defensive candidates have been competent in their rookie seasons, though none match the confident, dominant presence in the mold of 2009 winner Omar Gonzalez. A more reasonable comparison could be his predecessor, Galaxy teammate Sean Franklin, who won the award despite playing for a team that conceded 62 goals.

If that’s the standard, along with heralded candidates Perry Kitchen of D.C. United and A.J. Soares of New England must be listed Michael Farfan of Philadelphia. On the offensive side, the leading picks are CJ Sapong (Kansas City), Darlington Nagbe (Portland) and Will Bruin (Houston).

Kitchen, one of the many outstanding players to come out of the University of Akron, has played 30 games and 2,636 minutes at centerback, outside back and defensive mid. He averaged a foul a game and was cautioned only three times, which are remarkable numbers for any young defender and particularly for one who left college after his freshman year.

Like Kitchen, Soares has scored one goal in his rookie season (28 games) and this week it was learned he’s been hobbled by a sore left ankle suffered during preseason training. He underwent surgery Oct. 6 to correct the problem and though the Revs’ defense performed poorly this season, the Cal product has shown great potential.

Farfan (North Carolina) played only 21 games but generated some offense (two goals, three assists) while proving his reliability defensively. He helped fill a need for the Union, which lacked stability on the corners until he and twin brother Gabriel got regular playing time. (Like Michael, Gabriel is a former U.S. U-17 who started out at Cal State Fullerton but then moved to Mexico where he spent time in the Club America system.)

Also worth of mention is the Crew’s Rich Balchan (Indiana). As Coach Robert Warzycha moved pieces around to find the right combinations, Balchan played in the back and midfield for his 19 appearances and might have played more had he not been sidelined for more than a month with an adductor strain.

Nagbe, the No. 2 overall pick and also an Akron product, scored one of the most spectacular goals of the season before falling into a funk. He managed two goals and three assists in 28 games (21 starts).

Bruin (Indiana) scored five goals in 24 games (21 starts), which ties him for the team lead with Geoff Cameron and Brian Ching. Three of those goals came on a hat trick early in the season as Bruin played a minor role during a surge during the final two months that propelled Houston into the playoffs.

Sapong (James Madison) also scored five goals, and registered five assists while battling for playing time with veterans like Kei Kamara as well as second-year stud Teal Bunbury. Sapong only started 23 times yet with a game to go had played in every one (33). In a close vote vs. the defensive contenders, he gets the nod.

MLS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINAL FIVE:
1. CJ Sapong (Kansas City)
2. Perry Kitchen (D.C. United)
3. A.J. Soares (New England)
4. Michael Farfan (Philadelphia)
5. Rich Balchan (Columbus)



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS Trade Central: Thursday's deals    
Sporting Kansas City has signed 25-year-old Hungarian international forward Krisztian Nemeth from Dutch cub Roda JC  ...
What They're Saying: Michael Garcia    
"It is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude ...
Video Pick: Player loses his wig!    
The 19-year-old defender Baily Cargill was one of the top rated players for second division Bournemouth ...
MLS Trade Central: Wednesday's deals    
MLS and Chivas de Guadalajara reached an agreement regarding Mexican star Erick "Cubo" Torres, who played ...
NASL will open 2015 spring season on April 4    
The North American Soccer League will open its fifth season with the first week of the ...
Las Vegas gets its soccer stadium, too    
It isn't every day that two cities pass measures to build soccer stadiums. Hours after the ...
U.S. Abroad: Midweek Hot (and Cold) List    
John Brooks scored his first goal of the Bundesliga season for Hertha Berlin to open the ...
Road to Vancouver: More to Brazil than Marta    
Marta, whose magnificent performance powered Brazil past the USA Sunday at the Torneio Internacional da Brasilia, ...
TV Report: Fox plans unprecedented coverage    
The 2015 Women's World Cup will receive unprecedented coverage on Fox as it will air 16 ...
Klinsmann red-carded in starring role against Germany    
Jonathan Klinsmann's first international match against Germany, the country his father, Jurgen, played for and coached, ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives