Sporting Kansas City recognized the team’s annual award winners on Saturday at Sporting Park during Pitch Black, presented by Aristocrat Motors and Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City. Sporting KC players, coaches, media members and fans voted on the following awards:
- Most Valuable Player, pres. by Aristocrat Motors and Mercedes-Benz of Kansas City: Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer
- Offensive Player of the Year, pres. by Ivy Funds: Dom Dwyer
- Defensive Player of the Year, pres. by Sabates Eye Centers: Seth Sinovic
- Goal of the Year, pres. by Power Partners: Benny Feilhaber (July 16)
- Newcomer of the Year, pres. by Marriott Kansas City Downtown: Antonio Dovale and Igor Juliao
Additionally, the club chose the following awards:
- Golden Boot, pres. by Henry Wurst Incorporated: Dom Dwyer
- Victory Project Humanitarian of the Year: Soony Saad
- Bob Gansler Award, pres. by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City: Nic Jaimes
- Sporting Club Network Club of the Year, pres. by Price Chopper: El Padrino
- Academy Affiliate Club of the Year, pres. by Providence Medical Center: Sporting St. Croix
*All stats below accurate as of Sporting KC's 2-0 victory over Chicago on Friday, Oct. 10
Zusi earned a share of team MVP honors for a third straight season with five goals and eight assists in 24 MLS matches to go along with an assist in the 2013/14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The 28-year-old playmaker leads the team in assists for a fourth straight season and is the only MLS player with at least five goals and seven assists in each of the past four years. His 68 successful crosses/corners in 2014 are most in MLS, as are his 346 chances created in MLS competition (including playoffs) since 2011. Zusi’s 39 career assists are third most on the team’s all-time charts and his 22 goals rank 10th most in club history.
Dwyer’s breakout season garnered Offensive Player of the Year as well as co-team MVP recognition in the midst of a campaign that has seen the Englishman score a single-season team record 21 goals, including League-highs with 13 left-footed goals and five headed goals. The 24-year-old is second in the MLS Golden Boot race with two games to play and he also scored in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League group stage. Major League Soccer’s Player of the Month in May, Dwyer scored in four straight MLS matches on two separate occasions in 2014 and his five multi-goal games are tied for the League lead. He has scored six game-winning goals on the year, second most in MLS and tied for the most in a single-season in club history. His 23 career MLS goals are ninth most in team history.
Sinovic accepted Defensive Player of the Year accolades as the team’s stalwart on a backline that has allowed the fewest shots among all MLS teams in 2014. The 27-year-old leads all Sporting KC players in interceptions (68) and minutes played (2,575) during the regular season while contributing three assists across all competition. The Leawood, Kansas native ranks third among MLS defenders with 1,913 touches and fourth at his position with 1,170 passes and 275 duels. Since 2011, no player in Major League Soccer has contributed to more shutouts than Sinovic (47) in MLS competition (including postseason). Over that span, he’s played in 63 MLS victories (including postseason), which is fourth most among MLS players.
For the second straight year, Feilhaber claimed Goal of the Year bragging rights. The World Cup veteran received the recognition for his game-winning goal in the final minute of a 2-1 victory at Columbus on July 16, the team’s latest game-winning goal of the season to date. In his fourth MLS season, the 29-year-old has set career-highs in games played (30) and games started (29) en route to recording five goals and seven assists across all competition. Named MLS Player of the Month in July, the two-way midfielder leads the team with 43 chances created from open play, 56 tackles won, 191 duels won, 221 recoveries, 1,498 passes and 2,026 touches.
Dovale and Juliao shared Newcomer of the Year distinction in their first seasons in Major League Soccer. Dovale, 24, has four goals and four assists across all competition while playing wide in Sporting Kansas City’s 4-3-3 formation. Juliao, 20, has contributed three assists in all competition as a right back and leads all MLS defenders with a team-high 39 dribbles completed in 2014. During a season that saw Sporting KC suit up the youngest field player (Erik Palmer-Brown, 17) and goalkeeper (Jon Kempin, 21) in MLS this year, Juliao became the youngest player in club history to start 20 MLS matches for the team.
Saad was named Humanitarian of the Year for going above and beyond in his commitment to philanthropic causes throughout the community. Saad serves as an ambassador for the Shadow Buddies Foundation and is a regular visitor at Children’s Mercy Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House to interact with local youth. The Lebanese international has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and has attended charitable events to support the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer. The 22-year-old is amongst the most active players to participate in Victory Project soccer clinics and was also in attendance at Give Kids the World Village.
Sporting KC Under-18 Academy midfielder Nic Jaimes was the recipient of the Bob Gansler Award as the most outstanding Academy player. The Blue Valley Northwest senior was a member of the Sporting KC U17’s, coached by Jon Parry, that were crowned champions at U.S. Youth Futsal Nationals in February. He joined the U.S. Futsal National Team in June for a training camp and returned to the international level in August for a trip to Argentina. Jaimes – rated the No. 4 player in the region and No. 94 player nationally in the Class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com – has played in all four games for the Sporting KC Academy U18’s in the 2014-15 U.S. Soccer Development Academy after appearing in 20 games with four goals last season.
Sporting Club Network Club of the Year El Padrino enjoyed a successful year in a variety of ventures. In their second year as a member, El Padrino secured an agreement with Kansas City Power and Light through the Sporting Club Network and teamed up with Soccer Nation to unveil a new, two-field indoor complex while also helping to support the planned construction of new futsal courts throughout Wyandotte County. El Padrino has hosted three different Sporting Club Network events this year, benefitting both their players and coaches, and has been instrumental in helping the Network and The Victory Project launch the community-focused Recycle Your Game initiative.
In their first year as an Academy Affiliate, Sporting St. Croix took home Academy Affiliate Club of the Year. Despite being the furthest Academy Affiliate -- located in the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota -- St. Croix consistently delivered the best participation in Academy events. Whether it was sending players and teams to compete during Academy Affiliate Weekend and MLS/MRL league play or welcoming new Academy Affiliate Technical Director Desmond Armstrong on a visit, St. Croix was well represented at all activities. The club also helped Sporting Kansas City’s Academy teams kick off their seasons by playing in their first friendlies.
Sporting Park welcomed fans alongside Sporting Kansas City players and coaches on Saturday for a night of drinks, dining and live entertainment on the field. The team honors were formally presented to the award winners and a portion of proceeds raised will benefit The Victory Project in its mission to help children thrive through life’s challenges.
Visit SportingKC.com for a list of Sporting Kansas City's all-time award winners.