Rapids Unveil Winners of 2005 Team Player Awards

DENVER (10-23-05) – The Colorado Rapids announced the team’s 2005 yearly Team Award winners at halftime of Saturday night's playoff match vs. FC Dallas.

Defender Nat Borchers was the only player to take home more than one award earning the Rapids Defender of the Year Award as well as the US Soccer Foundation's Colorado Rapids Humanitarian of the Year Award. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon took home the 2005 Honda Rapids Most Valuable Player for the second straight year and Jeff Cunningham received the Budweiser Rapids Golden Boot Award for his team-leading totals in '05. Several other Rapids players took home awards for the first time.

The Rapids award winners were selected based on players' performances over the course of the entire season as voted on by members of the local Colorado media.

Colorado Rapids 2005 Team Award Winners:

RAPIDS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD: #26 Fabrice Noel
This award goes to the player who has made the biggest impact to the team in his rookie season. Noel burst onto the Rapids scene in 2005 and although he did not see huge amounts of playing time he wowed fans with his energy and exciting play entering games as a "super-sub". His highlight of 2005 was scoring the Rapids' final goal of the regular season the game-winner in Salt Lake City that clinched the Rocky Mountain Cup for the Rapids.

BLACK & BLUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD: #16 Eric Denton
This award goes to the Rapids player each year who most exemplifies the true spirit of the Colorado Rapids franchise game in and game out. Eric Denton had a breakout year for the Rapids after joining the squad in 2005 and was heavily depended on by Fernando Clavijo to alternate playing position between the defense and midfield. He was the Rapids' tireless workhorse this year giving his all on the field every game and still finishing the season tied for the team lead in number of games played.

RAPIDS RESERVE TEAM MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: #31 Sasha Gotsmanov
In its inaugural year this award goes to the most invaluable player on the Rapids Reserve team this season. Sasha Gotsmanov was a dynamo for the Rapids Reserve squad in 2005 emerging as the Rapids' most consistent hitman despite being in only his rookie season. Gotsmanov finished the 2005 Reserve season as the Rapids' leader in goals assists games played and minutes played. He compiled 6 goals and 3 assists in 12 games for a total of 15 points which also ranked him #6 in the league.

RAPIDS PLAYMAKER OF THE YEAR: #22 Alain Nkong
This award goes to the Rapids player who has been most instumental in developing the Rapids attack all year and creating scoring opportunities for the team. First-year Rapids player Alain Nkong won this award for his ability to make things happen in the Rapids attack and for his reputation as the go-to player. His 5 goals and 4 assists on the season don't do justice to the numerous attacking options he set up and created through the Rapids midfield this season.

RAPIDS MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: #5 Kyle Beckerman
This award goes to the Rapids player who has shown the most marked improvement over the course of the season. Beckerman who joined the Rapids in 2002 has been developing as a young player over the last several seasons. However this season he really came into his own as a controlling midfield presence for the Rapids and many fans and media members agreed that he honed his skills and really kicked his play into high gear this year especially towards the end of the season.

RAPIDS DEFENDER OF THE YEAR AWARD: #9 Nat Borchers
This award goes to the Rapids player who shows the most steadfast and gritty defensive skills over the course of the year. In 2005 Borchers became the Rapids' "Iron Man