Editorial (June 21, 2018) – With the 2018 Major League Soccer season almost at the half-point for Minnesota United FC, it’s a good time to give out some Minnesota United FC midseason awards. Much like last season, this season has been up and down for the Loons. There have been a few bright spots in the squad but also a few disappointments . . .
2018 Minnesota United FC Midseason Awards
Newcomer of the Year:
Darwin Quintero wins this award with really no other competition besides Eric Miller or Tyrone Mears, both who have missed time due to injury or not being on the team. Quintero has injected pace and flair into the Minnesota United attack. Almost every game he gets your heart racing when he has the ball on the counter. This explosiveness is evident by him being second in the league in dribbles per game, according to whoscorred.com.
Adrian Heath may still be trying to figure out how to best utilize him but he has had a solid first season so far as the Loons first-ever Designated Player. Darwin Quintero.
Rookie of the Year:
Mason Toye started his rookie season off with strong performances but a careless red card against Vancouver seems to have him in Adrian Heath’s doghouse since. Wyatt Omsberg was unable to build on his lone start, a decent performance against the Red Bulls. He has been on and off on loan with Tulsa Roughnecks.
The award goes to Carter Manley who was a regular contributor earlier in the year at right back. Although his appearances have declined since the acquisition of Eric Miller. Manley still gets spot starts and sub appearances at fullback and holds his own for a rookie. He has shown to be a good value pickup at the end of the first round. Carter Manley.
Offensive Player of the Year:
As stated in the Newcomer award Darwin Quintero has injected some life into offensive third for the Loons. Besides being second in the league in dribbles per game, Quintero also leads the Loons in goals and shots per game, as well as the majority of the other offensive statistics except for assists. He rightfully deserves Offensive Player of the Year. Darwin Quintero.
Defensive Player of the Year:
If goalkeepers are included then this award goes to Bobby Shuttleworth. If we are talking just defenders then it goes to Michael Boxall. Boxall may not have the flashy play that Francisco Calvo has but he also hasn’t had the mistakes that Clavo has had so far this season. He has been consistently solid all year long while leading the team in minutes, and that is what you want out of your center-back. Michael Boxall.
Although it might not show up on the stat sheet Miguel Ibarra gets this award for his endless work on both sides of the ball. He responded exceptionally to his benching earlier in the season, making himself a lock to start and probably one of the first names on the lineup card. Ibarra often runs back to help out on the defensive end and according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, he is one of the league leaders in running.
He also has been a steady offensive presence, highlighted by his goal against Montreal. Which you can find around the 2:20 mark here. He is one assist and goal short of his totals from last year in about 2/3 of the minutes. Schuller was in consideration for this one but with him getting Comeback, it goes to Ibarra. Miguel Ibarra.
Abu Danladi had one pretty darn good rookie season last year that many were hoping he would build off of. He did have some injury woes earlier in the season but he has since returned from injury and still doesn’t seem like he has returned to his form of last year. He will get the benefit of the doubt with injury woes.
However, Alexi Gomez was expected to come and give the offense a spark much like Quintero. Besides a nice pseudo-assist vs Vancouver at the beginning of May, Gomez has been all over the place. It seems like most of his shots end up in the stands and aren’t even on target.
Also, he often kills offensive possessions by losing the ball in the final third. At this is point Gomez is not consistent enough to be a starter. His best role would be as a substitute, where few thought it would be when he was acquired. However, there is a rumor about him leaving the club for Brazil. Alexi Gomez.
Comeback Player of the Year:
Ramus Schuller has come back from his loan to Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi(HJK) in Finland last year and cemented himself in the middle of the park for the Loons. He has been at breaking up plays and winning balls this year so far.
According to whoscored.com, Schuller is ranked first in tackles per game in MLS, first in dribbles past and second in interceptions. He also has been playing more of a defensive midfield position instead of a box-to-box role. Many think the box-to-box role is his best position over the holding role. Perhaps a summer signing could move him further up the pitch? Ramus Schuller.