2009 3rd Degree Awards – The Thirds

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Twelfth Annual 3rd Degree Awards.  The 3rd Degree Awards were created in 1998,  with the addition of the Spark award in 1999, and the Ember Award in 2006. 

The “Thirds” consist of two major categories, FC Dallas awards and League Wide awards, and are based on regular season play.  You can take a look at previous winners in our Award History.

2009 FC Dallas Awards

Napalm Award (MVP)

Dax McCarty

McCarty wins this award for his season of excellence.  That stats alone don’t tell the story, 27 starts in 28 games, most of them as a deep holding midfielder, 3 goals and 6 assists.  Eight Man of the Match awards from 3rd Degree, that’s twice the next best.  The improvement for FCD began when McCarty took the holding mid role and continued when he moved up into the linking spot.  Overall a spectacular season, particularly when you consider how firmly he was in the dog house at the end of last year.  Day in and day out he was FCD’s most consistent and best player.

Band-Aid Award (best mid season addition)

Ugo Ihemelu

There was some serious competition for this one; Heath Pearce, Jair Benitez, Atiba Harris, and Daniel Hernandez all could be worthy winners.  I’m going with Ihemelu for bringing much needed pace to the back line and a dominate presence when he moved inside.  Plus he brought some leadership as a guy who buys into the Hyndman system.

Phoenix Award (best emergence or rebirth)

Jeff Cunningham

17 goals wins the Golden Boot, Cunningham’s second, but even more than the total is the manner, what with his second half explosion.  First half of the season saw few starts at forward and few goals.  Second half saw 16 goals in 14 games, that is a true rebirth.  Those half a season 16 goals ties his two previous full season bests totals in 2006 and 2002.

Spark Award (best rookie)

George John

Other than a recurring injury problem this year, this one is easy.  Might have been a starter all year if not for the injuries.  Big, strong, physical, and smart.  Still learning the center back spot after playing mostly as a holding mid in college.  First choice down the late winning stretch.

Ember Award (Reserve MVP)

Not Awarded

With the end of the reserve league this award will go into hiatus until it’s return.

2009 MLS Awards


Shalrie Joseph, New England Revolution

No player has meant more to their team this year than Joseph.  8 goals and 8 assist from a primarily defensive minded player.  He’s even played some striker this year a time or two.  Joseph almost single-handedly carried the Revs to the playoffs.

Best Player

Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy

Let’s face it, he perhaps could have won this award every year.  But this year Donovan was particularly strong.  12 goals and 6 assist only tell part of the story, and they still might win him league MVP.  The burst is still there, the shot is still sick, he can and does play central, wide, and up top. When he’s angry and on form he can’t be stopped.

Best Defender

Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders FC

Yes, I know, he’s not a defender. Doesn’t matter, he’s for me the biggest reason Seattle has a great defense.  He plugs the lanes, intimidates players, and generally makes it dang hard to do anything in the midfield against the Sounders.

Best Goaltender

Zach Thonrton, Chivas USA

0.87 GAA and 12 shutouts.  if Zach hadn’t stood on his head all year where might Chivas USA’s season have gone.  They were devastated by injuries all over the field and had a constantly shifting back line.  The one constant has been Zach Thronton.  What a year, he saved the Chivas bacon time after time.

Rookie of the Year

Darrius Barnes, New England Revolution

This could have been a horrific year for the Revs and the loss of Michael Parkhurst was a big part of that.  Step in Mr. Barnes.  The only field player in MLS to play every minute of every game.  He even did it in a manner similar to Parkhurst with just 18 fouls committed and 3 yellow cards.

Best Mid Season pick up

Leo Gonzalez, Seattle Sounders FC

Gonzalez helped take an ok defense and make a it a really good one by fixing a need at left back.  He can defend and get forward well.  He was a late piece of the puzzle that makes Seattle a very dangerous team right now. 

Trade of the Year

FC Dallas, Dave ven den Bergh for a Dominic Oduro and 2nd round pick (plus swap of 1st).

Van den Bergh proceeded to play in all 30 games and finish second in the league in assists with 11.  Oduro traded to Houston after playing in 3 games, the second round pick became Babajide Ogunbiyi, who played 0 games for NY.

Pack Your Bags Award

Tom Soehn, DC United

Two straight seasons out of the playoffs is not going to cut if for a team that owns WeWinTrophies.com.

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