Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Sapong gets nod in tight rookie race
by Ridge Mahoney, October 21st, 2011 12:39AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

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
What They're Saying: Alejandro Bedoya    
"I wouldn't do it, but if somebody else felt the need ... they should be able ...
What They're Saying: Landon Donovan    
"You have to find something meaningful. That you're passionate about and do every day. Having that ...
TV Report: Nine independent USL clubs have local deals    
As the USL grows, so has the interest of local broadcasters to carry the action. Nine ...
MLS Expansion: Garber headed to St. Louis on Monday    
With its strong soccer tradition, St. Louis is considered a hot candidate for an MLS expansion ...
USA-Honduras: Lessons from Arena's first time around    
Sixteen years after his first run through the Hexagonal, Bruce Arena returns as head coach of ...
What's new in 2017 NASL: 1-10     
The NASL, downsized from 12 teams in 2016 to eight teams, will kick off its seventh ...
MLS Week 4: Ten players missing on international duty    
MLS doesn't rest during FIFA's international fixture windows. Ten players are expected to miss action for ...
NASL: BeIN Sports, ESPN3 return as broadcast partners     
BeIN Sports and ESPN3 are returning as the NASL's 2017 national broadcast partners. On opening weekend, ...
Video Pick: Good sport admits he wasn't fouled    
Jonas Hofmann of Borussia Monchengladbach fessed up that his stumble wasn't from contact by Bayern Munich's ...
MLS Moves: Toronto FC signs veteran defender Hernandez    
Defender Jason Hernandez will play his 13th MLS season as a member of Toronto FC. Hernandez, ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives