Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone, veteran defender Ike Opara and rookie midfielder Hassani Dotson are among the finalists for MLS’s 2019 season individual awards. Winners will be named in the coming days and weeks.
Mannone, acquired on loan last winter from Reading FC in England’s second division, is a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year won last season by Columbus’ Zack Steffen.
He is the only Loon who played all 34 regular-season games, making 126 saves and recording 11 shutouts. Minnesota United went 15-10-8, finished fourth in the Western Conference and plays the L.A. Galaxy in a home playoff game Sunday night at Allianz Field.
NYCFC's Sean Johnson and D.C. United's Bill Hamid are the other two finalists for the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year.
Opara is finalist for MLS Defender of the Year, an award he won in 2017 while playin with Sporting Kansas City. He helped key the transformation of a United defense that allowed 70 and 71 goals its first two MLS seasons into one that allowed 43 this season, while his team scored nine more goals than it allowed.
Atlanta United's Miles Robinson and LAFC's Walker Zimmerman are the other two Defender of the Year finalists.
Dotson, a second-round SuperDraft pick last winter out of Oregon State, didn’t find a steady starting job like fellow rookie Chase Gasper did at left back, But he proved himself versatile and able to start at a variety of positions, including both outside-back positions and defensive midfielder, on his way to consideration for AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year.
He scored four goals, too, including one in the 90-minute that beat Sporting K.C. last month and clinched United’s first playoff appearance.
Win and you get recognition, right?
"Winning is one criteria they're absolutely looking at," United midfielder Ethan Finlay said after training in Blaine on Monday. "But they're individual awards. These are guys who have stood out at their positions and deservedly so. All of them are deserving."
Philadelphia's Brenden Aaronson and Colorado's Andre Shinyashiki are the other finalists for the rookie award.
Adrian Heath was not one of three finalists for the Sigi Schmidt Coach of the Year honor. Finalists are LAFC's Bob Bradley, Philadelphia's Jim Curtin and NYCFC's Domenec Torrent.
"It's good because it means we work well," Mannone said recently about being in the discussion for awards. "If the awards come -- and I hope so for myself and the boys -- it'll be nice because the team worked hard in general, and it'd be a good reward for the work we put in every day that you don't see. I always work 100 percent. It doesn't matter if you don't get rewarded. Sometimes you don't. But it would be a good reward."
Rookie of the Year will be announced Tuesday. The Defender of the Year winner will be announced Thursday and Goalkeeper of the Year on Oct. 24.
Other categories and the finalists:
Landon Donovan MVP
Zlatan Ibrahimovic LA Galaxy, Josef Martinez Atlanta United, Carlos Vela LAFC
Newcomer of the Year
Carles Gil New England, Heber NYCFC, Alejandro Pozuelo Toronto FC.
Comeback Player of the Year
Mark-Anthony Kaye LAFC, Jordan Morris Seattle, Kacper Przybylko Philadelphia.
Humanitarian of the Year
Tim Howard Colorado, Matt Lampson LA Galaxy, Luis Robles New York Red Bulls
Referee of the Year
Allen Champman, Jair Marrufo, Rubiel Vazquez
Assistant Referee of the Year
Logan Brown, Brian Dunn, Brian Poeschel