MLS Midseason Awards: Analyzing the Stars of the First Half

Ned Harwood@@RBStampedeContributor IIIJuly 7, 2011

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 21:  Kosuke Kimura #27 of the Colorado Rapids looks to pass against Brek Shea #20 of FC Dallas during the 2010 MLS Cup match at BMO Field on November 21, 2010 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

In the words of Bon Jovi, "Oh, we're halfway there," and for many teams, the midpoint couldn't have come soon enough.

While some teams hit the halfway mark hotter than a burning pop tart, others have started to slowly fade from playoff contention. As the contenders and pretenders start to sort themselves out, I will analyze who deserves some significant recognition from the first half.

Rookie of the First Half: Joao Plata

The third-round pick has single-handedly raised 17 coaches’ eyebrows after a terrific first half of his rookie season. Plata worked his way into the TFC lineup in Week 3 and has never looked back. He is currently third on the roster in stats with two goals and two assists. Some may have an argument for Will Bruin, but the truth is that Plata has been more consistently surprising.

Newcomer of the First Half: Charlie Davies

After such a satisfying resurgence back to goal-scoring greatness, it’s hard not to feel happy about Davies’ debut MLS season. He currently finds himself tied for first in the Golden Boot race with eight goals, even if some of them were a little less then legitimate.

His impact on DC United can clearly be seen as attendance figures and win frequency are way up from last year. DC is just a win away from exceeding their point total from 2010 and a lot of that has to do with CD9 up top.

Goal of the First Half: Eric Hassli's Wonder-Goal

When you reach SportsCenter as a soccer player, you know you did something sweet. And Eric Hassli did something really, really sweet to his sour rival.

Team of the First Half: Columbus Crew

Think about it. Are the Crew even close to being the most talented team of the MLS? Do they even cross your mind as a premier club in a league dominated by big market teams?

Assuming you aren’t from Columbus, the answer to those questions above should be no, and for good reason. The Crew have one of the lowest payrolls in the league, one of the smallest markets and are, unfortunately, not blessed with the media spotlight like NY or LA.

Yet somehow Columbus finds itself third in the East and in a prime playoff spot halfway through the season. Will they do anything with that playoff spot in October? Nobody knows. But if one thing is for sure, it is that Columbus has made the most out of what has been given to them.

MVP of the First Half: Brek Shea

With the weight of FCD nation on his shoulders, Brek Shea has been nothing short of amazing the last couple of months. After an injury to David Ferreira that surely should have put Dallas on the brink of calamity, Shea has stepped up and proven why he is worth big money in Big D.

He has played multiple positions, scored multiple goals, and embraced the superstar role that was unfortunately vacant in the FCD roster. Shea was supposed to be the next big thing, and he may be the first American prodigy to live up to expectation.


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