On the defensive side of the game, the Seattle Sounders had three near iron-men. Three players whose presence on the pitch made difference. Three men who highlight why this is a "defensive" player rather than defender of the year vote.
Furthest up the pitch is Osvaldo Alonso, the Honey Badger. The Cuban put in 3836 all competitions minutes and was a key to cutting down service into dangerous areas, repossessing the ball and not caring. His defense helped spark an MLS games shots plus/minus per 90 of 0.84 and goals +/- per 90 of 0.51.
The net is guarded by American Legend and Sounders captain Kasey Keller. He ends his career with a 1.11 GAA in 2011 MLS competitions, a save percentage of 76% and 19 wins in MLS play. Only holding a 0.43 shots +/- per 90 and a 0.54 goals +/- per 90 the keeper is up for MLS Keeper of the Year.
Rounding out the options is a traditional defender. Jeff Parke can rise up to win headers, use his hips & shoulders to knock men off the ball and possesses lateral movement to keep up with the faster forwards in MLS. Like the other two Parke had over 3000 minutes played. His plus/minus rate stats were a 0.36 for shots and 0.51 for goals.
Each option is a different aspect of defense. While only one is a defender the other two belong in the conversation for who was most responsible for the strong defensive play of the Sounders over 2011.