Minnesota United's season is over after one home playoff game, but goalkeeper Vito Mannone on Thursday became the team's second player deemed to be MLS' best at his position in 2019.
Ike Opara last week won the league's Defender of the Year award for the second time in three seasons.
Mannone, acquired on loan last winter from Reading FC in England's second division, called his individual honor a "really, really proud moment" for himself and his family.
He edged D.C. United's Bill Hamid and NYCFC's Sean Johnson for the award in voting by media members, club coaches and executives and opposing players.
"The way the season went, I couldn't ask for more," he said.
His 129 regular-season saves were second in MLS, his 11 shutouts third best while he helped transform the Loons' leaky defense. He started all 34 games and helped take the Loons to the playoffs for the first time.
Mannone left England for Minnesota and MLS with his wife, Fiorella, and chocolate lab after 13 seasons in its top two divisions there.
He will go home next week to Italy with what he calls a "lovely trophy that's going on my shelf" to ponder his future at age 31, which is still relatively young for his position.
"It was a gamble I wanted to take," he said. "Not so much of a gamble, but a new adventure where I really embraced everything: New stadium, new life in America. I really enjoyed every minute."
Mannone and Opara were honored individually for a team that averaged 70.5 goals allowed the past two seasons without them and gave up 43 this season.
"Like Ike, Vito is a great professional on and off the field," United coach Adrian Heath said. "Very dedicated to his trade, wants to do well, has come in and within two or three weeks you'd think he has been here for years."
United will have to buy Mannone's rights from Reading to bring him back for another season(s). Or it could consider rookie draft pick Dayne St. Clair both ready and cost efficient.
"Vito, he's another one who has been a great pickup for us," Heath said, "and hopefully we can turn this loan into a permanent deal and he'll be here for a few years to come."
Mannone thanked his team, teammates, coaches, family, wife and remembered his father, Michaelangelo, who died when he was 16, and mother, Elisa, who died in 2017.
"They sacrificed for me, I dedicate this to them," he said. "They worked hard for me to be a professional footballer and now they're looking down from the sky on this brilliant moment for me."
Mannone said he had "a nice chat" with United representatives this week and will return to Italy to rest and consider his options. He was one of MLS' highest paid goalkeepers with $594,000 in total compensation.
"[I'll] see where we are, not for one year but for a long-term opportunity," he said.
"I know Minnesota is a possibility for me. I'm flattered about that."