Every year since 2010, Sounder at Heart has handed out end-of-season awards. Strange as this year has been, we’d like to keep up that tradition and we’d like your help. The ballot will be below the explanations.
Offensive Player of the Year
Nicolas Lodeiro: The midfielder led the team with 13 assists in all competitions, including 10 in the regular season. Lodeiro became the first Sounder to lead MLS in assists. He also had eight goals.
Jordan Morris: Fresh off a Comeback Player of the Year season, Morris added a Best XI campaign in which he had 11 goals and nine assists across all competitions. His 18 combined goals and assists in the regular season were second only to MVP Alejandro Pozuelo’s 19.
Raul Ruidiaz: No one in MLS had more than the forward’s 14 combined goals in the regular season and playoffs. He also had six assists across all competitions.
Defensive Player of the Year
Yeimar Gomez Andrade: The Colombian centerback arrived with the hope that he’d anchor the backline. That’s just what he did, starting 24 of 26 MLS matches.
Stefan Frei: Despite having a backline that had undergone significant changes from the previous year, the goalkeeper had another solid season.
Nouhou: There were questions about his ability to grab the starting job, but he ended up settling in nicely.
Kelvin Leerdam: After a bit of a breakout year in 2019, Leerdam actually out-produced himself on a per-minute basis in 2020, with three goals and three assists in 1,551 minutes.
Young Player of the Year
Josh Atencio: The 18-year-old made five appearances for the first team.
Alec Diaz: The 19-year-old forward enjoyed a bit of a breakout year with the Defiance, scoring six goals and adding 2 assists in 855 minutes.
Ethan Dobbelaere: The 18-year-old only made one MLS appearance, but it was a solid start on the road in LA.
Shandon Hopeau: In his first full season with the Sounders, the 22-year-old made five appearances and won the corner that led to a late equalizer against the Timbers.
Danny Leyva: Despite missing most of the year with injuries, Leyva still made two appearances, including one start in the regular-season opener.
Nouhou: He’s been around so long it’s easy to forget that the left back was still U23 eligible this year.
Ray Serrano: Still just 18 and now in his third professional season, he scored three goals in about 650 minutes for Tacoma.
Breakout player of the year
Alex Roldan: Cut at end of 2019, the youngest Roldan brother came into training camp needing to win a spot. He not only earned the chance to be the backup right back, but he played well enough that he started all four playoff games.
Nouhou: The left back bounced back from a season in which he lost his starting job to be a solid contributor despite fighting for playing time again. He appeared in every match and made 20 starts in MLS play.
João Paulo: Largely seen as a second-choice DP signing, JP showed his class early with goals in his first two competitive matches and helped solidify the midfield throughout the season while allowing the more offensive-minded players to stay higher up the pitch.
Women’s Player of the Year
Bethany Balcer: The second-year player showed she wasn’t a one-hit wonder. Balcer followed up her NWSL Rookie of the Year campaign with three goals over nine games in the NWSL Challenge Cup and Fall Series, and also helped shine a light on the mental health struggles many are dealing with during this tumultuous year.
Amber Brooks: The former Reign player returned in 2020, picking up a new position and number in her second stint with the club. With Lauren Barnes on loan in Sweden, Brooks was asked to shoulder a heavy burden at centerback surrounded by a rotating cast of rookies and young players.
Stephanie Cox: The former USWNT fullback was several years removed from playing professionally when she decided to suit back up last season during the depths of the Reign’s injury crisis, filling in admirably. In 2020 she was even better, consistently earning plaudits for her shutdown defending and service from the wings. She appeared in eight matches and earned one assist.
Shirley Cruz: Like much of the team under new head coach Farid Benstiti, Cruz took some time to find her footing during the Challenge Cup, failing to get onto the score sheet, but really stepped up during the Fall Series. The Costa Rican midfielder finished with three assists in four matches in that competition and showed that she wasn’t afraid to step into challenges and get physical in a midfield that was missing Jess Fishlock.
Casey Murphy: The Reign goalkeeper was a rock during the Challenge Cup, keeping two clean sheets in three matches and stopping six of the eight shots she faced. It was more of the same during the Fall Series, with another clean sheet and a staggering 18 saves over three matches.
Moment of the Year
Raising the 2019 MLS Cup banner: It seems like ages ago when the Sounders were celebrating their championship, but getting to raise it in front of the largest crowd of the season was definitely fun.
Winning 3-0 in Portland: The Sounders and Timbers had wildly different experiences at MLS is Back, but that didn’t stop the Sounders from bursting out of the gate with a 3-0 win on the road in their first regular season game after the tournament.
Will Bruin’s late equalizer vs. Timbers: It was not the prettiest performance, but an equalizer on the game’s last play is always appreciated.
Gustav’s winner vs. Minnesota: Just close your eyes and imagine what the crowd would have sounded like when Svensson completed the Sounders’ comeback from 2-0 down to make MLS Cup.