Previously we looked at the outlook for league wide awards. Here is the look at the team which we all love more than any other. At this site, we do not look at a team MVP, but break it up into the most important Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. This is an effort to step out of the offense v defense debate, which usually has offensive players getting more awards, but also a way to recognize that it takes success on both elements of possession.
As a recap, in that earlier post most of the staff is very high on Seattle winning either/both of the Supporters Shield and the US Open Cup. I had also asked about the team passing 50 points, and that was unanimous, as was the expectation to win the Cascadia Cup. Here's a look at our prediction for individuals on the team.
Details on some of those picks below the break
Brian Floyd outlines his reasons for Fredy Montero to be the site Offensive Player of the Year for a third straight year.
With Blaise Nkufo with the team from the start, and O'Brian White adding depth at the target forward spot, Montero should have room to work right from the start, unlike 2010. With a true target forward, and the rapport already developed last season, Montero should be able to pick up where he left off, creating chances for himself and others. Oh, and he's amazing.
Jake and myself though both see even more growth from Steve Zakuani, who could challenge Montero.
Zakuani's high pressure is a key to the Sounders attack, and I see a double-digit goal and assist year out of him. He will continue to terrorize opposing fullbacks, and I expect him to learn from last year's mistakes and be better about getting off a good shot.
If Zakuani double-doubles and Montero double-doubles, something both are capable of doing it is going to be a contest.
Defensive Player of the Year (which includes Defensive Midfielders and Keepers) is a contest between the last two winners in this site's opinion. It would surprise no one if the team's official MVP was again a stud on defense as Osvaldo Alonso is truly amazing capable of shutting down opposing CAMs and WFs as needed. But Jhon Kennedy Hurtado's return to health could provide a challenge as Dizzo says;
Reports out of training camp indicate that Hurtado has fully recovered from knee surgery. [I'm] looking forward to Hurtado reclaiming the form that made him a defender of the year finalist and all-star selection in 2009.
Young Player of the Year is an award that we give to the player who would be a natural qualifier if the Olympics were held that season. Montero and Zakuani are previous winners, and this year's list includes Miguel Montano, Servando Carrasco, Mike Seamon and maybe an Academy player. The staff though had only one pick after all the cuts, and that's the one that's going to see the most first team time of those guys - Michael Tetteh. The recent profile of Tetteh exhibits why, but is their little doubt here that the Generation Adidas and Gauchos star will run away winner with this one.
Since we can't figure out what moment will be best in the season ahead of time, we probably can't figure this stuff out either, I decided to ask the staff which player would have a Breakout season surpassing conventional wisdom. O'Brian White gets the nod as nearly everyone here picked him in the voting. Since he's looking to reawaken a career that once had every indication of greatness we aren't going out on a limb with this one. Jeremiah took a little less obvious choice, but picked a player in Nate Jaqua who has been often derided in the Soundersphere.
[He's t]he player every Sounders fan seemed to hate at the end of the 2009 season became much more appreciated last year, ironically, while barely playing in MLS matches. I doubt he'll get enough playing time to approach the numbers he posted in 2009, but he showed that he's still a very useful player as both a late-game substitute and as the target forward in CCL and U.S. Open Cup. Maybe calling him a breakout candidate for this year is overstating it a little, but I do expect him to play a significant role on this team going forward.
jake and myself though also see the potential for an amazing season from Mike Fucito. When the SBN MLS blog managers talked about doing a fantasy league (we are) I said I'd pick Fucito in the first round if CCL and US Open Cup goals count. The majority of Sounders fans have seen glimpses of the type of pressure that he can put on defenses both with the ball and when they have possession, but in a year of good health and paired with OBW the two speedsters should eat up Open Cup and non-Mexican CCL competition. Fucito didn't do half bad against Monterey either. I almost didn't pick either because I thought so many would expect it and so had a vote for Brad Evans, but in the end I had to shift back to my natural picks, because I expect Mike or OBW to have all competitions offensive numbers that challenge Zakuani and Montero, and yes, that means I see four players with PP90 at or above 1.00 at the end of the year?