MLS has announced the finalists for its year-end awards and the Crew is well represented. FC Cincinnati and St. Louis CITY FC have nominees in four categories, while the Crew is right behind with three.
Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year
In his first year with the club, Wilfried Nancy took a team that had not made the postseason in two years and turned them into a legitimate MLS Cup threat. Fueled by the attacking style implemented by Nancy, the Crew led the league in scoring and are one of its most exciting teams. Plagued by defensive deficiencies for most of the season, Nancy should be given credit for the team’s late-season improvement in that area-they gave up just five goals in their last six games. It should not be overlooked that Nancy guided this team to a third-place Supporter’s Shield finish after losing his starting goalkeeper (Eloy Room) very early in the season and having to rely on an untested 22-year-old (Patrick Schulte). Nancy is very deserving of this nomination.
Also nominated are Bradley Carnell of St. Louis and Pat Noonan of Cincinnati
MLS Young Player of the Year
It is no surprise to see midfielder Aidan Morris get nominated for this award. He’s been a steady performer all season who plays with maturity beyond his 21 years. Along with Darlington Nagbe, they form one of the better duos in MLS and have spent many games completely controlling the center of midfield. The homegrown player from Ft. Lauderdale scored four goals, added seven assists, and his 92.5% of passes completed is exceeded only by Nagbe (93.6%) among players who have appeared in at least 30 games. Morris is on the preliminary roster for the 2024 U.S. Olympic soccer team.
Also nominated are Atlanta’s Thiago Almada and Duncan McGuire of Orlando
Audi Goals Drive Progress Impact Award
Crew team captain Darlington Nagbe is an excellent choice for the league’s reimagined humanitarian award. A three-time MLS champion on the field, Nagbe is being honored for service off the field. According to the league, the award recognizes a player who displays excellence in driving progress in their community. Nagbe, an Ohioan in his fourth season with the club, scored three goals this season, including the home-field-clinching goal Saturday night in the win against Montreal.
Also nominated are Alejandro Bedoya of Philadelphia and Nashville’s Taylor Washington
In a bit of irony for Crew fans, Jon Freemon is a nominee for Referee of the Year. If you recall, Freemon did not see fit to call an obvious foul and award a potentially game-deciding penalty kick when Christian Ramirez was body slammed by a Philadelphia player in the waning seconds of their September 30th meeting. Does it seem I’m still a little salty about that non-call? That’s because I am.