Yesterday we found out who made the shortlists for MLS’s year end awards and they were bad. Like real bad. FC Cincinnati fantastic candidates who should have been in the running for a number of awards who were all snubbed.

Coach of the Year

Pat Noonan took a team that was left for dead by the MLS establishment and turned them not just into a playoff team, but one of the best offensive sides in MLS this year. With very little in the way of roster turnover Pat Noonan and his staff took a team destined for the bottom of the table to challenging for a home playoff match. It’s telling that most of MLS’s writers published brackets this week predicting FC Cincinnati to win their first round matchup vs New York Red Bulls, but none of them think the job Noonan has done deserves a top 3placement for coach of the year? The Athletic had writers saying Chris Albright should punt on a coach for the next few years since this job would be toxic to anyone’s resume. Noonan et al proved that to be very wrong. 

Instead, Steve Cherundelo was handed one of the most expensive rosters in MLS and was able to add a couple of European superstars in Giorgio Chilelini and Gareth Bale, on top of a new DP striker, as they went from a pretty good team to the best team in MLS. Well the supporter’s shield is their reward for finishing first and it’s not clear very many players necessarily improved under Cherundelo. 

Throw in there Jim Curtain winning the east and you have two managers who won so therefore they are up for this award. Never mind the fact that Philly was one of two teams favored to win the Eastern Conference this year.

MVP

Lucho Acosta was the captain and playmaker that fed MLS’s first 18 goal striker duo in it’s 26 year history. Acosta put up better numbers this year (10 goals, 19 assists) than Carlos Gill did last year and he was crowned MVP some time in July of 2021 (4 goals, 18 assists). Instead of Lucho’s insane performance this year, the league decided to be really MLS about the MVP vote and shoehorn in Chicharito, I guess for the memes. The guy missed 4 penalties, refusing to let teammates take them, and damn near cost his team the playoffs with his incredibly un-clutch performances. Instead of Acosta being properly rated and rewarded for dragging a team from the bottom of the table to the playoffs, MLS decided to treat their end of year awards as clickbait. 

Newcomer of the Year

MLS did a very weird thing and nominated three players who played for teams who all missed the playoffs. They must have been such good additions to their teams that they got worse. Well they did in Cucho’s case, the team averaged a lower number of goals scored per game once he arrived than they had before he showed up. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. 

Instead, Obi Nwobodo transformed The FC from a mid table team that could surprise people to a playoff team pushing for third place in late September. His defensive work in the midfield isn’t sexy, there’s not a lot of people sharing gifs of his highlights, but he puts in the dirty work that makes FC Cincinnati’s midfield work. His arrival freed up Acosta to play further up the field and, well, see above for all that worked out. It’s not often a DP comes in from overseas and makes an immediate impact for their MLS team, but Obi did just that. With no rest either! If that’s not a newcomer of the year, I don’t know what is.