There's a lot of variance here. The collection of quality defenders and the players we think could be quality continues to expand. Previous end of season winners Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (1 vote) and Osvaldo Alonso (4 votes) both get support for 2012, but they are joined by Adam Johansson (1 vote) and the leader Jeff Parke (5 votes). Parke's comeback from New York Red Bulls Best XI of the Decade down to Whitecaps of D2 back to MLS with the Seattle Sounders and now even a capped United States national team player is not just a great story. He's now the vocal leader of a top 5 defense in MLS.
All staff votes were collected prior to the game against Santos Laguna, but the diamond between Michael Gspurning, Parke, Alonso and Hurtado showed quite well. Against some of the best forwards they will face over the year they gave up one goal, and that came through a shift that required Leo Gonzalez to cover central space.
MalcontentJake gave the nod to Alonso, not because he felt he'd be the best defensive player, but because he feels he's just the best overall player on the team.
I actually think Hurtado is going to be the Sounders best defensive player - I'm eyeing him to be an absolute beast this year. The problem is, Alonso is, and once again will be, the team MVP, and has got to be in the best XI players in the League. His role is seen as primarily defensive, so...
And that may be a bit of a quandry.
With Omar Gonzalez out there is space in the league for a new centerback to emerge as a league leader, and while Jeff Parke got the call from Jurgen Klinsmann we can't forget how good Hurtado was in 2009. Now healthy, el Presidente could repeat a performance that saw him on league short lists for Defender of the Year.
There are some who think that Alonso is actually a league wide MVP. This isn't just because his ability to win balls, but his passing has improved enough that he may put up offensive numbers to get noticed. He will certainly be honored for his all-around game, but his strength is clearly as a ball winner first.
Two new bloods enter the contest, and while none voted for Gspurning, his impact on the team could be huge. The bar is high, but if he meets it his newness to the team may get him more recognition. Johansson and Leo Gonzalez at fullback may get overlooked, but they could impact the team in closing down entry passes and making the CBs look even better.