The Brotherly Awards: 2013 Philadelphia Union Season Awards

Justin Edmonds

The 2013 regular season has come to an end and it is time to pause before moving into the off-season and hand out awards based on what we saw over the last 34 games. The Brotherly Game contributors voted on 13 categories and below are the results of those votes.

Player of the Year

Amobi Okugo

The young Midfielder-turned-Center-Back built on a good 2012 season and played more consistently in defense and even contributed a few goals as well. John Hackworth put his full trust in Okugo when he traded Bakary Soumare early in the season and he was rewarded as Okugo continued to blossom. By the stats, Okugo stood 4th in goals scored (3) and assists (3), 2nd in yellow cards (6), and 3rd in minutes (2879).

Also receiving votes:
Zac MacMath
Conor Casey

Rookie of the Year

Aaron Wheeler

The big man from Maryland joined the team after a year with FC KooTeePee in Finland and a year after first being on trial with the Union. With veterans like Conor Casey and Jack McInerney in front of him he was always going to struggle for minutes, but made the most of the 129 minutes he was given. He chipped in with 1 goal and 1 assist on the field and there was talk of him putting in time on the practice field at center back as well.

Also receiving votes:
Leo Fernandes
Fabinho

Defender of the Year

Amobi Okugo

As mentioned in his Player of the Year Award write up, his defensive play was much improved and it wasn't just Philly fans taking notice this year. In many games this season as the midfield failed to control the game it was Okugo who seemed to be everywhere across the back line, blocking shots that seemed destined for the back of the net. MacMath may have been close to the top of the league in shutouts, but Okugo is a major reason for that.

Also receiving votes:
Jeff Parke

Midfielder of the Year

Sebastien Le Toux

The midfield took a beating this season, failing to control the middle 1/3 of the field in most games, lacking in technical skill, and failing to properly support the forwards, but the returning Seba was the closest thing to a Midfielder of the Year as there was. This was one of the tightest races with 5 different players receiving votes. In the end, Le Toux's 12 assists were enough for 2nd best in the league, accounting for more than a quarter of the Union assists this season. After starting the opening weekend as a lone forward, Le Toux played nearly all of his 2222 minutes on the right side, except for a brief, injury shortened appearance at left back.

Also receiving votes:
Danny Cruz
Brian Carrol
Fabinho
Kleberson

Forward of the Year

Conor Casey

The target forward came into the 2013 season hoping to recapture some of his form after an injury had seen many write him off as old, slow, and not capable of leading an offense again in this league. While he was played sparingly in the early fixtures of 2013, there was no way of keeping him out of the XI late in the season. His 10 goals and 5 assists were enough for 2nd and 3rd respectively on the team. Aside from the stats, he also came in and proved a great partner up top for Jack McInerney, a partnership that should continue in 2014.

Also receiving votes:
Jack McInerney

Newcomer of the Year

Conor Casey

The forward brought a style of play that really rang true to the "Philly tough" mantra that was repeated throughout the season by John Hackworth. From his diving header against Columbus to his verbal and physical clashes with Aurelien Collin of Sporting Kansas City, he did everything to win the hearts of Union supporters. His 10 goals and 5 assists were personal bests since 2010 and his 2201 minutes are the second most in a season of his MLS career.

Also receiving votes:
Jeff Parke
Kleberson
Fabinho

Underachiever of the Year:

Keon Daniel

While featuring almost exclusively on the left flank in previous seasons, the Trinidad & Tobago international was moved to center of the field in an advanced role in support of the strikers. For whatever reason, be it poor discipline, lack of positional experience, or something else, he would routinely end up playing level or behind defensive mid Brian Carroll, leaving the strikers with no support play and the only form of service coming from streaking runs down the wing. The frustration level of the fans was increased, knowing that a player of Kleberson's ability was sitting on the sideline, unused.

Also receiving votes:
Michael Farfan

Most Likely Gone by First Kick 2014

Roger Torres

There is a huge amount of love for the creative midfielder from the Brotherly Game contributors, but with John Hackworth returning for another full season in charge of the club and a push for cheap American talent to be the focus of the team, there is no way to overlook the fact that there is no place for Roger Torres on this team. After such a promising preseason and being told by Hackworth how "it will be hard to keep him off the field" the 68 minutes that Torres saw speak volumes for where he ranks on the team. We wish him the best of luck wherever he ends up!

Also receiving votes:
Kleberson
Greg Jordan
Keon Daniel

Goal of the Year

Kleberson Free Kick vs Toronto FC

This category wasn't even a contest. All, but 1 vote went to Kleberson's stoppage time free kick winner that kept the Union's playoff hopes alive deep into the season. Moments before the stunning strike it looked like the Union would go winless against Toronto on the season after two 1-1 draws. The kick flew over the wall and left Joe Bendik rooted to the ground unable to stop the winner. The Union have never been known for their set pieces, so it was one that stood out for many reasons.

Also receiving votes:
LeToux's season opener

Team Performance of the Year

3-0 Win vs New York Red Bulls

Sometimes everything comes together and the perfect outcome achieved. That is exactly what happened on June 23rd as the Union handed league rival New York Red Bulls a 3-0 loss. Long before Lloyd Sam saw red in the 28th minute, the Union had already taken a goal advantage from a Conor Casey header. After the break the Union took full advantage of being a man up and added a second Conor Casey goal as well as one by Antoine Hoppenot to round out the victory.

Also receiving votes:
3-2 win over DC United at RFK

Most Missed Former Union Player

Carlos Valdes

The Colombian "on loan" center back left the team to better pursue a spot on his national team's roster for the upcoming World Cup next summer. While the Okugo-Parke partnership was a successful one, having the Colombian international on the field would have allowed Okugo to push forward into a midfield role that could have helped improve the weakest part of the roster. It is still yet to be seen if Valdes will be back next season.

Also receiving votes:
Gabriel Gomez

Biggest Disappointment of the 2013 Season:

John Hackworth

Of the 15 votes collected, more than half of them had to do with the managerial job of John Hackworth. Those specific disappoints included votes for "Hacktics", the constant 60th minute sub adding Hoppenot to the game, the lack of using Torres and Kleberson, the overall midfield selection, and votes for simply "Hackworth." The team was still in the playoff chase at the end of the season, more because of the parity in the league, than for the performance of the man in charge. Hopefully in 2014 he will better use the resources at his disposal to improve the outcome of the season.

Also receiving votes:
Dropped points in draws
Late season form of the offense
Lack of consistency
Loss of Los Tacos outside PPL Park

Young Player of the Year
(Best Player Under 23 Years of Age)

Amobi Okugo

Not only does Okugo take home the Player of the Year and Defender of the Year honors, but he is also considered the best player under the age of 23 by Brotherly Game contributors. He has already featured at the youth national team level, has 4 years under his belt, and can excel at multiple key positions on the field. His stock is rising in the league and many analysts across national platforms are starting to talk about the 2018 World Cup as an attainable goal for Okugo. The sky is the limit for one of the Union's brightest young stars.

Also receiving votes:
Zac MacMath
Jack McInerney

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