Seattle Sounders FC announced the winners of their 2017 club awards today, showcasing both on-field as well as off-field team leaders. The players and technical staff voted Christian Roldan as the team’s Most Valuable Player, and Chad Marshall as Defender of the Year. Clint Dempsey won the Golden Boot as Jordan Morris took home his second straight Humanitarian of the Year award.
Roldan was honored with the team’s MVP award after improving on an already impressive 2016 campaign. Roldan stood out as one of the top defensive midfielders in the league, leading all MLS players in tackles won (90) and duels won (229). He was also second on the team in successful passes (1,565) and first in recoveries (229). Part of what made him so valuable this season was his ability to step up when Osvaldo Alonso went down with an injury. In the past, losing Alonso has been a near death sentence for the Sounders midfield, but with Roldan’s improved play, the team was able to thrive even in face of losing their captain.
This year was full of milestones for the third-year midfielder, who not only played a key role in the Sounders’ run to a second straight MLS Cup final, but also earned his first caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team in this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
In the pre-MLS Cup press conference, Clint Dempsey said of Roldan: “His goal-scoring is something that he’s added more to his game, so he’s becoming more of a double threat. Not only defensively, but in the attack.”
Perhaps the most memorable of Roldan’s six goals this season was when he scored the game winner in the 78’ against DC United on July 19. Roldan’s clever finish capped a historic comeback and a 4-3 victory, the first team in MLS history to have won after being down 3-0.
“[Roldan] consistently puts in good performances,” coach Brian Schmetzer said. “Not just physically, but tactically and technically he puts in really solid performances.”
Another player who consistently puts in solid tactical and technical performances for the Sounders is this year’s Defender of the Year, Marshall. This is Marshall’s second straight year winning the team award and his third time in the past four seasons. Marshall led the team in aerials won (58), blocked shots (22), clearances (110) and headed clearances (63). He was second on the team in interceptions (55). Marshall played a key role in helping the Sounders earn 13 shutouts over the course of the season.
Marshall has made a career of being consistent and is widely regarded as one of the best defenders to ever play in MLS, winning MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2008, 2009 and 2014. He is the only three-time recipient of the award in league history.
Dempsey led the team with 12 goals this season, taking the team’s Golden Boot honors the same year in which he was voted 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year after having his 2016 season cut short by an irregular heartbeat. Dempsey scored another three goals in the playoffs, which gives him a career total of six playoff goals for Seattle, a club record. Dempsey recently signed on for another season in Seattle, which should see him overtake Fredy Montero for the club’s all-time leading scorer title. Dempsey currently has 46 regular season goals, while Montero ended his Sounders career with 47.
For the second year in a row, Morris was recognized by the team as the Sounders FC Humanitarian of the Year. Morris, a type-1 diabetic, meets with T1D youth after every home match (and some away matches and USMNT matches as well), sharing time with a young person facing the same challenges that Morris has faced and continues to face in his day to day life.
Before a World Cup Qualifier last August, Morris told MLSsoccer.com, “For me, when I was growing up, I looked at guys who had diabetes that were playing professional sports, like Jay Cutler and Adam Morrison, and I know I would have loved to have been able to speak with them. But I definitely looked at them as an inspiration. So whenever someone reaches out to me I try to get back to them, and I hopefully can be that inspiration to them with whatever their dream is — whether it’s playing professional sports or anything else.”
Morris has continued to show his class and compassion in his efforts to serve his community in a number of other ways, as well. He served as Ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Beat the Bridge event, helping to raise over $13,000 for JDRF Seattle. He also featured as the face of Seattle Foundation’s 2017 GiveBIG Campaign, which raised $19 million for local nonprofit organizations. And he hasn’t stopped there. Morris also created his own foundation, the Jordan Morris Foundation, and began monthly visits to T1D inpatients at Seattle Children’s Hospital. This is a guy we are definitely proud to have on our team, on and off the field.
Award season is just getting started. The annual Sounder at Heart awards voting will start shortly.