With captain Jay DeMerit being nominated for Defender of the Year, YP Lee nominated for that, and Newcomer of the Year and Darren Mattocks getting a nomination for Rookie of the Year, I figured I should doll out my own awards, for Whitecaps named after Whitecaps!
Consider that the red carpet entrance and the awards begin now!
Jeff Clarke Award – Leadership Award
Jeff Clarke captained the Whitecaps to two USL Championships and was also a member of the 86ers in the late 90’s.
His leadership helped the ‘Caps capture their first USL Championship and their last, before they entered the MLS.
Winner – Jay DeMerit/Barry Robson
Jay DeMerit is the obvious choice for this award, being the captain. But he really is everything that exemplifies a leader.
From getting the entire team into position in corners and set pieces, to firing the squad up with an inspirational pregame speech to growing an out of style mullet for the historical playoff push, DeMerit does it all.
Or, as the Southsiders would say: “He’s our captain! He’s our captain! He’s our captain!”
Barry Robson may have only arrived in the middle of the season and made his debut in early July, he immediately took on a leadership role.
He quickly became Vice-Captain and exemplified his fire for the game against Chicago, in just his second game; he took a free kick from 40 yards out and just missed, putting it over the bar.
He buried his face in his hands and screamed at himself. He gave the captain DeMerit an earful when DeMerit stupidly gave up a penalty against Real Salt Lake.
Carl Valentine Award – Rookie of the Year
Carl Valentine came to Vancouver as an 18-year old and helped the Whitecaps win their one and only NASL Championship. He scored four goals in his debut season and went onto to score 40 more over a five year span.
Winner – Darren Mattocks
Part of the reason Mattocks wins is for lack of a better option, but it would be silly not to point out the excellent debut season Mattocks had.
After missing time early with a serious arm injury, Mattocks came back healthy and motivated.
He scored 8 times in 16 starts in his debut year and made both Eric Hassli and Sebastien Le Toux expendable.
Bobby Lenarduzzi Award – MVP
Bobby Lenarduzzi was there the entire existence of the NASL’s Whitecaps.
He came over in 1974 for their debut and stayed until the league folded in 1984. He was there for the 1979 Championship season and scored 31 goals in 288 appearances.
Winner – The Backline
This award goes to the Whitecaps backline, who was the heart and soul of the team from March through November.
DeMerit, YP Lee, Martin Bonjour, Alain Rochat, Andy O’Brien and Jordan Harvey.
They helped the ‘Caps achieve a record setting beginning, and allow just 41 goals this year. In a season that didn’t see many goals from the offense, the defense was more important than ever.
Ray Lewington Award – Unsung Hero
Lewington may have only played one season for the ‘Caps, but he was the rock in the midfield for the NASL Championship team.
Winner – Alain Rochat
The chameleon of the Whitecaps team.
He went from being a Left Back and Center Back last season to a Right Back, to a Center Back, to a holding Midfielder this season.
Nobody did it with fewer errors and with less recognition then Rochat this year. He came into his own after moving to the bottom of Martin Rennie’s diamond midfield towards the end of the season.
Special mention to Jun Marques Davidson, the awards runner up.
Willie Johnston Award – Fan Favorite Award
From mooning the Sounders bench to taking a sip of a fans beer before taking a corner, Johnston did all the right things to endear himself to Whitecaps fans.
Winner – Eric Hassli/Barry Robson/Darren Mattocks
Nobody has made the fans love him quicker than the former Whitecap Eric Hassli.
It showed true after he was traded and we the fans gave him one last ‘Eric Hassli’ chant in the 29th minute in the first match following his trade.
For a few weeks in July/August, Robson’s jersey was one of the best selling in the MLS. Mattocks’ pace and scoring touch earned himself a spot as a fan favorite and it will only grow as he keeps growing.
That’s it for this year and hopefully the ‘Caps can take home some official MLS awards too!