So Frank Lampard doesn’t win Comeback Player of the Year, and Jack Harrison doesn’t win Rookie of the Year, but fear not, NYCFC fan, those aren’t the ONLY awards in the world. There’s the Grammys for example, and the Oscars and the Nobel Prize for Economics.
Baby I’m a Star: The First Annual (Probably) Bestie NYCFC Awards
And now, let us introduce for the first time anywhere, the Besties – a totally new and meaningless series of awards, named in honor of George Best, for no other reason than I really like George Best and needed to call these things something.
The Combat Pay Bestie:
To Josh Saunders. In the past two years, Saunders has faced 346 shots. Over that same period, Orlando City SC’s Joe Bendik has faced 159, Columbus Crew’s Steve Clark faced 329, and Seattle Sounders’ Stefan Frei faced 281. The guy deserves a damn medal. And a gold-plated health insurance plan.
The “Won’t Back Down” Bestie:
To RJ Allen. You would think a guy who a year and a half ago was coaching kids on Staten Island would be a little more timid when going toe-to-toe with some of the top names in MLS. Yeah, you would be wrong about that. Or you’ve never been to New Jersey.
The Life-long Learning Bestie:
To David Villa. Hats off to the Captain for taking the time in the off-season to learn a foreign language. It’s never an easy thing to do but it once again Villa showed that he is that rare leader who always goes the extra mile. Even if it means hitting the textbooks during the winter.
The Winningest NYCFC Coach Bestie:
To Christian Lattanzio. When Vieira got suspended all this guy did was come in and guide the team to a victory over the LA Galaxy. You remember the Galaxy, right? The team that gave NYCFC its worst beat down last year? Sure, sure, he said was a team effort. That’s exactly what I’d say too if this guy was my boss.
The “Should Have Cut Your Hair Sooner” Bestie:
To Khiry Shelton. While the long hair was distinctive, and it made him look even taller than his six feet three inches, literally the moment he cut it, he scored. It was bizarre. Like Samson and Delilah in reverse. And with soccer. Okay so It’s not really like Samson and Delilah at all.
The Hometown Hero Bestie:
To Jason Hernandez. I’ve written a lot about what New Yorkers respect and top of that list is doing the work – whatever it is, whenever it is, however it is. And no one has exemplified that better than this guy. In 2015, he was an anchor on a line that featured two – count ‘em, TWO – members of the Manchester City Elite Team. This year, the backline evolved and changed – and so did his role. And he always gave his all. Thanks, brother.
The Guglielmo Marconi Memorial Bestie:
To Tom Kolker & Glenn Crooks. On the one hand, Sirius FC is terrific, because you can hear the local broadcasts of MLS matches from all over the country. On the other hand, you can hear the local broadcasts from all over the country. Oh. My. Word. Makes you really appreciate the guys who do NYCFC’s games. They make listening a pleasure. Tune them in.
The Second Chance Bestie:
To Frank Lampard. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In New York, sometimes you don’t even get a first chance. But fans gave Frank a second chance – eventually. And he came through with 12 goals, the team’s first ever hat-trick, and leadership on and off the pitch. Good luck, Frank. You’ll always have friends in the Bronx. Now…
The DeAndre Yedlin Memorial Bestie:
To Ronald Matarrita. Who doesn’t love this guy’s speed and willingness to push the attack? But can he learn to get back on defense too? Sure he can, because he’s only 22 and he’s got three guys yelling at him in French to do it or they’ll break his jambes. Let’s just hope he learns it here and not in another league.
The Most Improved Defender Bestie:
To Andrea Pirlo. He’ll never be a Paolo Maldini but for a guy who never, and I mean NEVER, played defense, you have to admire the way Il Maestro stepped it up this season. He could have very easily thrown up his hands and said that defense wasn’t his game, that it wasn’t his problem, that he was too old to do something new. But he didn’t. And for that, New Yorkers will always love him. Well, that and the hair.
The “Better in Two Languages Than I am in One” Bestie:
To Nicole Chayet. You don’t know her, but she’s the Senior Manager for Communications & Hispanic Media Relations for NYCFC and one of the things she does is translate for players in the post game interviews. You ever interview an angry semi-naked man after a loss when the last thing he wants is to answer a bunch of stupid questions in a language he doesn’t speak? (Don’t answer that). Nicole makes it all happen effortlessly and someone should thank her for that. Oh wait, we just did.
The “Still in the Mix” Bestie:
To Mix Diskerud. As of this writing, I have no idea where Mix will wind up. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in how the whole thing played out. But I also have to recognize that he has been a stand-up guy in a difficult situation. He’s worked the rope line with the fans, he’s done public appearances, he’s supported the team. A lot of players would have been surly or embarrassing or invisible (you know who you are, Rafa Marquez). But Mix wasn’t and you have to respect that.
The Higher Math Bestie:
To Tommy McNamara. Not because he’s got a Masters in Economics (although he does), but because of the crazy geometry on those wonderful curling shots he mastered this season. Holy cow. Some kind of combination of trigonometry and advanced calculus, I think. I dunno how he does it. I just want him to do more of it in 2017.
The “Shameless Celebrity Fan” Bestie:
To Leslie Jones. If you’re not following the Saturday Night Live star on twitter, boy are you missing something. Not because she’s always funny (although she is) but because of the sheer, over-the-top, sometimes misguided, never misplaced, joy she has for her team. Reminds you what it’s like to be a fan even when everything is going to shit.
The Comeback Player of the Year Bestie:
To Tony Taylor. Remember what last year was gonna be like with Tony and Khiry on the wings? And then that horrible injury against the Portland Timbers. Yikes. But did Tony give up? Nope. He came back stronger than ever, scoring a goal in NYCFC’s first game this season, and working his butt off whenever he got on the pitch. Hats off to you, brother. We look forward to cheering you on wherever you land.
The “Draft Day Trade That Paid Off” Bestie:
To Jack Harrison. I’ll admit, sitting in Baltimore at the SuperDraft with Mike Anderer, I was concerned. And starting the season with surgery didn’t help. But I’m a believer. This kid is the goods. And if he gets a little stronger (to keep from getting pushed off the ball by a Kendall Waston or a Ramon Torres), gets a little support when he’s double teamed, and for god’s sake learns how to head the ball (come on man, Conor Lade was outjumping you), he could be legendary. Also, the hair.
The Billy Martin Bestie:
To Patrick Vieira. Maybe it’s something about using the New York Yankee locker room. Maybe he watched footage of American coaches and managers in other sports and thought it was expected of him. But twice? Suspensions from two matches? Patrick, we love ya, and we love the passion and fire. Heck, we even love Christian Lattanzio (as noted above). But we’d love you more on the sideline for all 34 matches. Unless Roy Keane starts managing in MLS. Then, go for it. And we’ll have your back.