When Osvaldo Alonso is the multi-year anchor on the defensive side of the ball it is hard for other players to stand out. Still last year Parke and Gspurning put forward strong efforts. One was reworded with another call to United States camp and the other is just one of the top three keepers in the league.
Alonso is still the favorite for the 2013 version of this award. His defense has not faded at all while he continues to add to his offensive game, particularly his passing. And awards voting is a funny thing. Once a player gets recognition the first time they are more likely to continue to get recognition. Alonso is still youngish and still on the fringes of transfer discussions to strong leagues in Europe, but the expectation among those polled are that he anchors goal prevention again with eight of twelve participants putting him as the winner.
Michael Gspurning also got some love. Two voters put him as the winner (one non-SaH). With a full season he likely would have won the Keeper of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Best XI. Forecasting injury is a delicate task and in this case unlikely to have the requisite data behind it. Gspurning in 30+ MLS matches will be a force.
The other recipient of support (two votes) as the best defender on the team was Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - former finalist as a Defender of Year, All Star and SaH 2009 Defensive Player of Year. But it has been years.
I think Hurtado will step up in the middle of the defensive line this season. His experience in front of Gspurning and working alongside Parke last season should help his confidence. He is one season further from his knee injury, and has to step into the leadership role on the back line. I expect this to be a break out year for him.
If Hurtado can finally, fully recover the lateral movement that he once had he will be a force. At 28 he is at an age that is considered peak for defensive players.