This is about defensive players, not just defenders. It includes defensive mids, holding mids, fullbacks, centerbacks and keepers. Rather than give an MVP, Sounder at Heart awards the best defensive player and best offensive player in a given year.
Last year ended a three-year reign by Alonso. Leo Gonzalez beat him fairly soundly. Hurtado is the only other player to win this recognition by the community.
Roughly half the team is eligible for recognition in 2014. This short list is available for the vote.
Osvaldo Alonso - He's the best defensive midfielder in the league. Alonso now contributes to the possession portion of the game like never before. Ozzie is the heart of the team.
Stefan Frei - The starting keeper set a record for wins by a keeper while growing into a role he hadn't held for years. Early in 2014 he was a slapper, but now as a keeper that catches balls and direct traffic he commands a box.
Leo Gonzalez - Two players on the Sounders are in their past-peak age and still getting better. Leo did it while starting every match in which he was healthy. He can stand up faster players, guiding them into even more defenders.
Chad Marshall - The MLS Defender of the Year despite playing on a poor defense. Marshall does not just win balls, he starts the attack.
DeAndre Yedlin - Once an offense first wingback playing fullback, Yedlin's defense improved over the year. He can stop a Hazard, Donovan or Castillo while still entering the attack.