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D.C. United's Andy Najar is MLS rookie of year

Andy Najar, who rose from D.C. United's youth academy to the starting lineup at age 17, has been named the MLS rookie of the year, beating out Philadelphia Union forward Danny Mwanga and New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream.

MLS does not make voting details available for most awards. Here is what I wrote about the rookie of the year race last week.

Najar, a midfielder whose family settled in Northern Virginia from Honduras about four years ago, is, by four years, the youngest player in MLS history to win the award. He appeared in 26 of 30 regular season matches, starting 22, and shared the team lead in goals with five. He also scored twice in the U.S. Open Cup. What attracted the most attention, however, was his clever footwork, unpredictability with the ball, acceleration and smart runs.

Ream, a second-round selection from Saint Louis University, started every game for a first-place club while Mwanga, the first overall draft pick from Oregon State, had seven goals and four assists for an expansion team.

The last time a United player won rookie of the year: Ben Olsen in 1998. Olsen was United's interim coach since August. After his retirement last winter, Olsen bequeathed his No. 14 jersey to Najar. Earlier this week, Najar was named the team's most valuable player.

In a surprise, Donovan Ricketts of Los Angeles was named MLS goalkeeper of the year, finishing ahead of Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando and Dallas's Kevin Hartman.

By Steve Goff  | November 3, 2010; 10:09 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United, MLS  | Tags:  MLS  
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Comments

This is really going to anger NY fans :)

Posted by: Reignking | November 3, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

This is really going to anger NY fans :)

Posted by: Reignking
----

+1

This decision is totally in line with what Najar deserves. He's not long for this league.

Posted by: UnitedDemon1 | November 3, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

wewintrophies

Posted by: Reignking | November 3, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

5 goals and 1 assist for MLS' worst team. Kandji had 4 goals and 5 helpers for RBNY last year and I didn't hear anyone calling for him to get RoY. Gotta throw DC a bone after their epic failure of a season I guess.

Posted by: whoshotsam | November 3, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

A bright spot in an otherwise bad season. Congratulations to Najar.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | November 3, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

...and yes I know that technically Kandji would not have been eligible. My point is that if putting five goals and one lousy assist in for a last place team is RoY material then we are setting the bar pretty low.

Posted by: whoshotsam | November 3, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Everyone is so upset about the voting today :)

Posted by: Reignking | November 3, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

So how many zeroes does this award add to Najar's eventual transfer fee? :-)

Posted by: Juan-John1 | November 3, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey... we won something!

Posted by: WorldCup | November 3, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Congrats, Andy on a job well done.

Posted by: Kosh2 | November 3, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

YES! Whoo Hoo! Finally something worth cheering about on this team.

Posted by: DCB23 | November 3, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"This is really going to anger NY fans :)"

I can only speak for myself, but I really don't care who wins individual awards. From what I can tell, NY fans care far more about the playoffs than who the Rookie of the Year is. I mean, Rodrigo Faria is a former MLS Rookie of the Year-- how much does it really mean?

Najar is an exciting young player, and you're lucky to have him, though I wouldn't dream of replacing 2010 Richards with 2010 Najar. Having Ream anchoring our back line has been a blessing this year, and he won't be a lesser player for not having won a Cracker Jack prize.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 3, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

AND he get's Cracker Jacks?! Go ANDY Go!

Posted by: DCB23 | November 3, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@Whoshotsam, lets go by the stats of goals and assists only then and ignore overall 'value' to the team.
For rookies: Najar 7 goals 1 "lousy" assist in all competitions
Mwanga 7 goals 4 "lousy" assists in all competitions
Ream 1 goal in all competitions

Now its your turn to show me goals against Ream. And I'll look at a ratio of Najar/DC goals. You can then go to minutes played, I guess I could go to distance covered on field analysis. And so on

Ignoring value to a team makes viewing this game into a computer program that only looks at numbers. There is no concrete way to decipher team value with stats. So it was given to Najar with opinions of press and the league of who is the most impressive rookie this year.

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | November 3, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Najar and DC United.

Condolences to Ream, who definitely DID deserve the award.

Props to New York fans, who have clearly retained a devilish sense of humor, as evidenced by: "I wouldn't dream of replacing 2010 Richards with 2010 Najar."

Hilarious.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | November 3, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

As much as I'd like to say Andy should win the ROY, based on what I saw with Tim Ream's impact on NY, I'd have to go with Ream.

NY has had huge problems with their defense. Ream stepped in and had an immediate impact on their entire defense and was a major cog of moving NY from last to first.

I just can't say that Andy had that kind of impact on DC. Andy had some wonderful moments and sparked some terrific goals. On the other hand he didn't transfer United offense into a strength.

Posted by: dcufan531 | November 3, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Props to New York fans, who have clearly retained a devilish sense of humor, as evidenced by: 'I wouldn't dream of replacing 2010 Richards with 2010 Najar.'"

You can snark all you want about that, but Richards has been an essential part of a winning team. Not only is his pace devastating, his dribbling, passing, and finishing ability have improved dramatically, and most importantly, he now delivers consistantly strong performances.

Najar has far more long-term promise, but to any team that is in a position to win now, Richards would be a no brainer.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 3, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Admittedly, I haven't watched much NY games, but all I can remember is the opening match...and Richards was awful. Fast and dumb.

Posted by: Reignking | November 3, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Plain and simply I think it's pretty cool that Najar took the #14 shirt and won the award like Benny did.
Congratulations Andy.
And good on Ben not making a huge deal about his number when the kid wanted it. As much as I first thought the shirt should be retired, I have come to believe that retiring #'s in football is silly.
Ben Olsen must have inspired many a kid to want that number, especially around these parts. I'm damn sure Andy is well on his way to having a similar effect on the kids and adults alike.
Looking forward to seeing more of Najar in the future. He's awesome.

Posted by: DadRyan | November 3, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

From what I can tell, NY fans care far more about the playoffs than who the Rookie of the Year is.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan
------------------------------------

They might care more about the playoffs but that doesn't mean many MetroCow fans aren't livid. LOL!

http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_by_ives/2010/11/najar-named-mls-rookie-of-the-year.html

http://www.soccerpubs.com/boards/index.php?s=622bec1b7d8dad48a7e7223e65f92ffa&showtopic=39357

(I very much enjoy this--especially irishapple's total hatred for DCU.)

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | November 3, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

DadR: I hadn't thought about the #14 connection. That is a cool coincidence.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 3, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

You can snark all you want about that, but Richards has been an essential part of a winning team. Not only is his pace devastating, his dribbling, passing, and finishing ability have improved dramatically, and most importantly, he now delivers consistantly strong performances.
----------------------

Over the second half of the season, that's true. . . but a big chunk of Richards' improvement is down to having better players around him, and meanwhile Najar was the only credible threat his team had.

Part of the reason Najar won was probably that voters were thinking 'what if this kid was actually on a decent team.' Based on the way he played, the appearance is he'd have lit up the league.

Posted by: stancollins | November 3, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure you can cherry pick a few rants off SBI, but it seems like the number of reasonable commenters I've read on that site can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But if you're hankering for an argument with teenage soccer fans who don't actually go to games, that's the place to go.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 3, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Stan, Najar isn't as fast as Richards, and frankly Richards' speed alone would put him ahead of Najar in NY's starting XI. Not to mention that Richards' is a more than adequate passer, dribbler and finisher.

That's no knock on Najar, who is a terrific player. I'm just telling you, because of the role Richards plays, Najar wouldn't displace Richards as a starter for NY.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | November 3, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I thought Ream should've won it -- quite impressive to play all season, as a rookie, at such a critical, high-pressure position.

Posted by: Reignking | November 3, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

@270, hanging on to hope that some "tradition" at @DCU is still something to feel good about... :)

Posted by: DadRyan | November 3, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

The obvious next step here is to have all of next year's squad where number 14.

Posted by: RIP-21 | November 3, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

In Goff's story, he wrote: "The league does not release voting totals for postseason awards, citing a complicated formula that weighs ballots from various categories."

IE. The league will give the award to whomever it wants to.

Posted by: edgeonyou | November 3, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I did find it even cooler that Andy gives coach(Benny) so many props in this little interview on the club website...
If there is any tradition to still feel proud about it may very well be the 14 shirt.
http://www.dcunited.com/news/2010/11/andy-najar-qa

Posted by: DadRyan | November 3, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

In Goff's story, he wrote: "The league does not release voting totals for postseason awards, citing a complicated formula that weighs ballots from various categories."

IE. The league will give the award to whomever it wants to.

Posted by: edgeonyou
------------------------------------------

So what you are really saying is that the "vote" is fraudulent? That the votes of the players, coaches, GM's and media members aren't really counted? And that this conspiracy is kept secret by every employee of the league who must surely be aware of it?

Toward what end? Why risk your credibility like that?

I mean, I hate the Red Bulls, too, but come on.

On related topics, have you heard about the alien spacecraft kept at Area 51? And did you know that the moon landing was faked?

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | November 3, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Najar is the most exciting player we have had in many years and the ONLY reason to attend the games. Thanks to a sponsor I was at a game with a bunch of teenagers in September. None of these kids had heard of Najar, and they were captivated by him.

Posted by: paulkp | November 3, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Ream would have been an excellent choice, too. What doesn't show in Najar's goals/assists stats are the consistently good passes to teammates who botched their scoring chances. With attackers who can score, how many assists would he have?

Posted by: runningcloud | November 4, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

PrinceBuster,

leave my alien spacecraft alone!

Along with others I don't believe there is any kind of significant "voting" process in determining these awards but that doesn't mean the awards necessarily lack merit.

MLS uses the internet voting process for some things and that can lead to stuff like Kasey Keller winning MLS Save of the Week 4 or 5 times in a row.

Najar might have won the award partly because Garber or other league honchos want it to go to an offensive player after giving the award to defenders for several years, or partly to throw DC fans a bone after a miserable season, or partly to promote MLS' youth team setup.

But Najar still did enough to merit the award.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | November 4, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

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