Commentary: And MLS's 'Newcomer of the Year' is ...

Let's think outside the box for the player who's shone inside the box

Clint Irwin catches a ball

Photo Credit: 
Garrett Ellwood / Colorado Rapids

Saturday's fine 3-2 win for the Rapids at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps was followed by the giving of team awards.

A few weeks ago the end-of-season MLS awards bandwagon began to roll, since when fans and media folk have been having their say on who should receive the various accolades.

Rookie of the Year is clearly a two-horse race, and thoroughbreds at that, with Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers - housemates - head and shoulders above the rest in that category.

Colleagues around the league have aired their thoughts on Newcomer of the Year, with most opting for Diego Valeri at the Portland Timbers.

Now, don't get me wrong, Valeri is a quality player who has enjoyed a fantastic season in a tip-top Timbers team but - for me - this award should go to a player whose performances have shocked, surprised and caught everybody off guard. A player who truly has emerged from nowhere.

Valeri is a Designated Player and has played for Argentina at senior level. He is a seasoned pro, with time spent at hometown club Lanus, Porto in Portugal and Spanish side Almeria. He arrived with a decent amount of expectation, and has delivered.

How about someone who - a year ago - only gave himself a 10% chance of remaining in the sport?

How about a young player who signed for a MLS club at the start of the season, having spent time in the USL and Canadian Soccer League?

This player was third choice goalkeeper with the Rapids, only to be thrust into the spotlight just minutes into the third game of the season.

He's gone on to record a club record-equalling 10 shutouts, while producing a string of world-class stops, blocks and saves.

His name is Clint Irwin … a newcomer worthy of recognition.