HITC's 2015 MLS end-of-season awards

Sebastian Giovinco

With the MLS regular season in the books, here are our award winners for 2015.

Goalkeeper of the Year: David Ousted (Vancouver Whitecaps)

You can’t go wrong with either Ousted or D.C. United’s Bill Hamid here, but the Dane just beats out the 2014 award winner after anchoring the joint-stingiest defence in MLS with some outstanding shot-stopping performances.

An ever-present between the posts, Vancouver’s stand-in skipper conceded just 36 goals in his 34 appearances, while recording a save percentage of 72.3% and the joint-most clean sheets in the league with 13 to help Carl Robinson’s side seal a second-place finish in the Western Conference.

The 30-year-old was also the only goalkeeper to earn the player of the month award, as well as winning save of the week four times, and managed to stop four of the six penalties he faced over the course of the regular season.

Defender of the Year: Matt Hedges (FC Dallas)

Another Whitecaps player could just as easily win this award, but as key as Kendall Waston has been to the Canadian club’s success in 2015, the towering Costa Rican has not been quite as impressive as the understated Hedges.

The 25-year-old may not receive many headlines playing in Dallas but he has quietly enjoyed a stellar season for Oscar Pareja’s men, helping them top the Western Conference with his composed performances in the heart of the defence.

With his physicality, ability to read the game and precise distribution from the back, there may not be a better all-round centre-back in MLS.

Coach of the Year: Jesse Marsch (New York Red Bulls)

2015 was widely expected to be a rebuilding year for the Thierry Henry-less Red Bulls but Marsch had other ideas, confounding predictions in guiding the club to the Supporters’ Shield title in his first season in charge.

The former US international took over in tumultuous circumstances during the offseason after the controversial firing of club legend Mike Petke, but he soon managed to win over supporters thanks to his team's high pressing, positive brand of football which few opponents could cope with.

Not only that, but he achieved it all with the lowest payroll in the league.

Rookie of the Year: Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC)

While San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Fatai Alashe and Chicago Fire counterpart Matt Polster both turned heads during their rookie seasons, neither have much of a case for winning the award after Larin’s historic rookie campaign.

The first overall pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, the Canadian striker netted 17 times in 27 appearances to smash Damani Ralph’s old single-season rookie scoring record of 11 goals set back in 2003.

Aged just 20, a big future in the game awaits.

Most Improved Player of the Year: Tim Melia (Sporting Kansas City)

The league’s own Comeback Player of the Year award is always an awkward one to judge, but replace the word “comeback” with “improved” and nominee Melia is a deserving winner.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper had played in only six MLS games in five years before joining Sporting KC in December and even served as a League Pool Goalkeeper for the second half of last season after the now defunct Chivas USA deemed him surplus to requirements.

However, after taking over from new No. 1 Luis Marin eight matches into the campaign, the career backup proceeded to establish himself as one of the league’s top keepers, racking up eight clean sheets and a 1.22 goals-against average in 23 starts.

Also the hero of the club’s shootout win over the Philadelphia Union in the US Open Cup final, there is a decent argument to make that he should have been among the three finalists for the Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Newcomer of the Year: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)

Giovinco is the runaway favourite for the MVP award so naturally he’s the best newcomer, too.

The former Juventus forward’s first season in the States saw rack up 22 goals and 16 assists to lead the league in both categories, as his dazzling performances guided Toronto to their first-ever postseason appearance.

Didier Drogba definitely deserves some recognition after he hit 11 goals in as many games following his summer move to the Montreal Impact, but without a full season of work, it’s hard to vindicate giving him the award over the “Atomic Ant”.

MVP: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)

In any other year, either Sporting Kansas City playmaker Benny Feilhaber or Columbus Crew SC striker Kei Kamara would be sure-fire MVPs, but Giovinco’s 2015 was without doubt the best individual season MLS has ever seen.

The Italian playmaker became the first player in league history to record at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a season, as he took home the Golden Boot award ahead of 22-goal Kamara on account of having more assists – double the amount in fact – than the former Middlesbrough man.

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