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MLS Rookie of the Year Is.....

Los Angeles defender Sean Franklin, who beat out New England forward Kheli Dube and Houston midfielder Geoff Cameron. I know Franklin is very talented and he started most of the year, but can you really give a league-wide award to a member of a backline that was in large part responsible for 62 goals conceded? 62!

Previous winners.....

2007: Maurice Edu - Toronto FC
2006: Jonathan Bornstein - Chivas USA
2005: Michael Parkhurst - New England Revolution
2004: Clint Dempsey - New England Revolution
2003: Damani Ralph - Chicago Fire
2002: Kyle Martino - Columbus Crew
2001: Rodrigo Faria - MetroStars
2000: Carlos Bocanegra - Chicago Fire
1999: Jay Heaps - Miami Fusion
1998: Ben Olsen - D.C. United
1997: Mike Duhaney - Tampa Bay Mutiny
1996: Steve Ralston - Tampa Bay Mutiny

By Steve Goff  |  November 13, 2008; 1:07 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Goff, Rookie of the year is for individual effort, not team effort. Franklin was a rock in the back, playing out of position. He saved us from letting in even more goals. Why should he be punished (aka not win ROTY) for the failure of other players? Bob Bradley took notice of his skill and called him into the national team camp. Sean Franklin deserves this award.

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | November 13, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

GOFF asks: "I know Franklin is very talented and he started most of the year, but can you really give a league-wide award to a member of a backline that was in large part responsible for 62 goals conceded? 62!"
As a Galaxy fan, I think it's perfectly fair to give the award to such a defender. I think you have to judge a player in the context of his team but not merely by the performance of his team. Yes, the Galaxy gave up 62 goals, but it probably would have been 82 without Franklin covering for guys who cost a lot more and supposedly knew a lot more.

Whatever the line-up, the defensive midfield had trouble winning and keeping balls, Franklin's fellow defenders had trouble doing almost everything, and his keepers either wouldn't come off the line at gunpoint (Cronin) or would come off at random it as if shot out out of gun (Wicks). I think Franklin's poise (most games) was remarkable.

Posted by: JonE2 | November 13, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

While Cameron shows promise, he started only 8 games and played less than 1,000 minutes. He didn't have many points, either -- even given his limited playing time.

Dube is very skilled, at least by MLS standards, but he only played about half as many minutes as Franklin. In the end, the fact that Franklin started almost every game and played nearly 2,400 minutes -- those stats won over the voters. Of course, that means he was an integral part of a lousy defense, but everyone agrees that he doesn't deserve the blame.

Franklin was my pick...

Posted by: fischy | November 13, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

ahh, Rodrigo Faria and Mike Duhaney... Where would the league be without those two?

Posted by: afadgsafhgd | November 13, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Look at that list -- is it Rookie of the Year or Rookie Defender of the Year? Looks like the list of YAs that play (our defenders) vs. those on the bench.

Posted by: Reignking | November 13, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Damani Ralph... there's a name. At which Chili's does he work now?

Posted by: IamAM | November 13, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

FYI Ralph had knee surgery. Unsure if he's still playing in Russia or not . .. either way it's definitely NOT Chili's

""In 2004, there were rumours that Ralph would move to the Spanish club Malaga, but MLS turned down a reputed $1 million (U.S.) transfer offer. However, in 2005 Ralph finally secured his long desired transfer to Europe. The move was for undisclosed terms - thought to be $2 million (U.S)- to Russian Club FC Rubin Kazan. The contract would run for three years with a starting yearly salary of $650,000.[1]""

Posted by: delantero | November 13, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse


Being a young defender that can make a respectable contribution to MLS defenses is an easier task than being a good attacker. Generally speaking, MLS defenses are not very sophisticated, so the demands are mostly athletic rather than cerebral. This means that NCAA defenders (coming from a style of play that emphasizes physical gifts over skill to an obscene degree) will have a much easier learning curve.


Dube had a hot streak after replacing Mansally, and then did little else (3 goals by the end of May; finished the season with 4; 0 goals since June 12th). Once MLS defenses figured him out, he was not nearly the threat he was in his first couple appearances. Sure, he missed about 1/3 of the season hurt, but 0 goals from mid-June on for a forward is Chris Albright production. He only made this list because of the overall low level of MLS rookies this year.

Cameron is the player out of the three that I'd take, but he didn't play enough to give himself a serious chance of winning the award. It's not his fault that the Dynamo squad is so deep that he's behind 2 or 3 people at most of the positions he plays (only at right midfield, with just Brian Mullan, was he anywhere close to a regular role). Still, I see big things for Cameron. I think Houston would be nuts to leave him unprotected in the expansion draft.

Franklin is not a bad choice, but I think he has not gotten his share of blame for LA's shambolic defending. I'm not sure why, but US soccer fans and media seem to treat anyone that is skinny, below 5'10", and not an utter failure at center back as some kind of demigod. If you ask the right person (coughGreg Lalascough), they'll tell you that Parkhurst can walk on water and, one time, spun Earth against its rotation to turn back time to save the day. Franklin seems to get similar wild praise when he does basic things right, and then when he's involved in yet another goal against the Galaxy, it's everyone's fault but his. Franklin is a slightly above average MLS center back; the fact that he's rookie of the year means that this year's rookies were just not that good. Let's see how good he is when LA gets actual center backs and he can shift out to his natural position.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 13, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"..shambolic defending..."

Good word, Chest. Well in.

Posted by: joedoc1 | November 13, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Other than the fact that I hate Jay Heaps, and I have no clue who Mike Duhaney is (like most sensible internet blog posters, I will research him AFTER I submit a post about him)....the historic ROY choices would form a pretty decent squad. It's nice to see that these players tend to pan out.

Yes, my hatred of Jay Heaps has a direct correlation to whether or not he panned out.

Posted by: DWE4 | November 13, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Franklin very deserving. The class of the Galaxy defense, which as a rookie is something, even if the Galaxy defense was poor. And that it was so poor gave him the opportunity to see so many minutes. He was one of maybe four Galaxy players who had good years.

It's not so much that this was a poor rookie class. We don't know if it was. It's way too early to tell. Rookies rarely make big impacts in MLS -- the difference in level between college and MLS is too great. And it is easier for defenders to make that jump.

Posted by: LAStory | November 13, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"the difference in level between college and MLS is too great"

Well, that's the best thing I've heard about MLS quality in a while :)

Posted by: Reignking | November 13, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"like most sensible internet blog posters, I will research him AFTER I submit a post about him"

DWE4, you crack me up.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 13, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

When it comes to comparing MLS rookies it's an uneven playing field with lots of apples, oranges and potatoes to compare.

What is a rookie?

MLS has 26-year-old Kheli Dube among its finalists but 19-year-olds Mansally and Nyassi are probably not considered rookies because they signed late last season.

Brandon McDonald also made contributions for hapless LA, Justin Braun and Bobby Burling had productive seasons at Chivas, Roger Espinoza, Stephen King, Emmanuel Ekpo, Steven Lenhart, Andy Iro, Bruno Guarda, Julius James, Shea Salinas, Tony Beltran and Will Johnson all made useful contributions to their teams this season...

But none had a real "Wow" factor.

DC needed contributions from it's rookies just to get through the forced marches of an overloaded schedule.

MLS rookies enter the league at different stages in their development so some players who had quiet rookie seasons could develop into stars.

Can't really remember whether or not I had a point to make but thought I'd ramble some before heading home to watch the game...

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | November 13, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Franklin the right choice.

Posted by: fonkyou | November 13, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Franklin the DEAD WRONG choice. LA was lousy this year, plain and simple. Donovan stood out for his individual performance. Buddle stood out for coming back into form after being bad for a number of years. Beckham always stands out, that is when he puts in effort.

Franklin won a spot on the backline against mediocre competition and couldn't stop the defense from leaking on avg 2 goals per game. There are lots of talented rookies who couldn't crack their respective first teams this year because of competition. Franklin was gifted this award despite better options.

Why penalize Dube for getting injured, dealing with competition and being a bit inconsistent? The guy still produced 4 goals and 4 assists. After coming out of the Supplemental Draft (aka nowhere). Sounds to me like more of an impact player.

I'm very disappointed, but somehow not surprised given that it's LA.

Posted by: Eugene7 | November 13, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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