November 15, 2012 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - D.C. United
Washington, D.C. (November 15, 2012) - Major League Soccer today announced today the finalists for its 2012 year-end awards. Among the finalists are D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon, up for Rookie of the Year, United Head Coach Ben Olsen, up for Coach of the Year, and midfielder/forward Chris Pontius, up for Comeback Player of the Year.
The Black-and-Red's first selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft (7th overall) Nick DeLeon has continued the club's recent string of rookies making an immediate impact. Playing in 28 games (25 starts) in his first professional season, DeLeon broke United's rookie goal-scoring record with six tallies in 2012, also contributing four assists in the process. Previous record-holders included Santino Quaranta (2001), Freddy Adu (2004) and Andy Najar (2010), who all notched five goals in their inaugural MLS campaigns. DeLeon joins teammates Chris Pontius (2009 finalist), Andy Najar (2010 Rookie of the Year) and Perry Kitchen (2011 finalist) as the fourth consecutive Rookie of the Year finalist from D.C. United.
Olsen, in his second full season at the helm of D.C. United, led the club to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference (17-10-7; 58 points) and its first post-season berth since 2007. After captain and 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario was sidelined with an MCL injury in September, Olsen guided the club to a nine-match unbeaten streak (6-0-3), including playoffs, the League's second-longest undefeated span in 2012. At the time Olsen was hired permanently as head coach on November 29, 2010, he was - at 33-years old - the youngest coach in the League.
Pontius, United's longest tenured player, had a career campaign in 2012. After suffering season-ending injuries in 2010 and 2011, Pontius set highs in goals (12), games played (31), games started (26), minutes (2,339), shots (71) and shots on goal (29). Six of Pontius' 12 goals this season were game-winners, tied for the club record set in 1996 by Steve Rammel and tied for third in MLS in 2012. Pontius also earned team accolades as the 2012 Volkswagen Most Valuable Player Award, Volkswagen Fans' Choice Award, Volkswagen Goal of the Year and the club's Golden Boot.
The Rookie of the Year award will be announced on November 19, while Coach of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year accolades will be revealed on November 27. The list of finalists for the aforementioned honors, as well as the full announcement schedule follows.
Rookie of the Year Finalists
Austin Berry (Chicago Fire)
Nick DeLeon (D.C. United)
Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Coach of the Year Finalists
Ben Olsen (D.C. United)
Peter Vermes (Sporting Kansas City)
Frank Yallop (San Jose Earthquakes)
Comeback Player of the Year
Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes)
Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
Chris Pontius (D.C. United)