SBI 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year: C.J. Sapong

CJSapongROY (Getty)

When he scored a goal in his first professional match, it was clear C.J. Sapong intended on doing big things his rookie year.

The James Madison product didn't come into the league with much fanfare, but once he settled into the Sporting Kansas City starting lineup, and played a key role in the team's turnaround from a 1-6-4 start, it was clear Sapong was a special player.

Sapong finished the season with five goals (six counting his goal in the playoffs) and five assists, both MLS rookie highs, to run away with SBI MLS Rookie of the Year honors.He was the top choice on all seven SBI staff ballots, a dominant showing that repeated itself with Sapong also being named the official MLS Rookie of the Year on Tuesday.

The 2011 MLS rookie field was a solid one, with eight different rookies making their way onto SBI Rookie of the Year ballots. Here were the other rookies to be honored among the best in MLS in 2011:

New England Revolution central defender A.J. Soares finished second in the SBI voting. While the Revs endured a terrible season, and the defense let in the second-most goals in MLS, Soares impressed observers throughout the league with his poise, strength and technical ability. He led rookies in starts and minutes played this season.

Chicago Fire defender Jalil Anibaba finished third in the SBI voting. The North Carolina product stepped in at right back, and while it wasn't his natural position (he is a centerback), Anibaba handled the position with steady performances and he helped the Fire come within striking distance of a playoff spot.

Among the other rookies to receive votes were Philadelphia teammates Zac MacMath and Michael Farfan, Houston striker Will Bruin, Portland forward Darlington Nagbe and D.C. United defender Perry Kitchen.

Sapong ran away with the official MLS Rookie of the Year voting as well, finishing with a weighted total of 106.28, while Kitchen (34.56) and Farfan (33.50) finished second and third, respectively.

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Who got your Rookie of the Year vote? If Sapong was your pick, who do you think was the best of the rest?

Share your thoughts below.

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17 Responses to SBI 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year: C.J. Sapong

  1. hogatroge says:

    As a Dynamo fan, I haven’t had many good things to say about SKC this year. Nevertheless, this award has been Sapong’s for months now.

  2. Adrian says:

    AJ Soares did really well this year, but I bet the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year will go to another Rev, Diego Fagundez.

  3. downintexas says:

    too bad rookie mean first year to play. Fagundez has already played for the Revs this year. So I’m not sure but I think that means he can’t be rookie of the year next year.

    Although I hope he as a great year anyways.

  4. Louis Z says:

    I expect within a year that C.J. Sapon will be with the USMNT, that is providing he continues his improvement.

  5. K Bone says:

    Oh wow, I had no idea he went to JMU, that’s where I went. Go Dukes!

  6. prizby says:

    only cuz Plata is ineligible, even though he is THREE YEARS younger

  7. prizby says:

    its a joke that a 22 year old can win it while a 19 year old can’t even be nominated…don’t think Sapong makes the SKC roster as a 19 year old

  8. JD says:

    This is officially the Second Best Thing That Happened to CJ Sapong in 2011. The First is, of course, this:

    link to youtube.com

  9. JD says:

    This is offically the Second Best Thing That Happened to CJ Sapong in 2011. The first is, of course, this:

    link to youtube.com

  10. Kevmueller says:

    I know what a joke, a kid stays in college for 4 years to get an education. CJ still is very raw even at 22. Excited to see what he will be able to do in the next few years.

  11. Charles says:

    Did he finish college ? I had no idea he was such a loser.

  12. K Bone says:

    No one leaves JMU early, it’s too awesome…

  13. elgringorico says:

    Also a Duke and had no idea…!

  14. gerboth says:

    amen!

  15. Gomez says:

    No love for Paolo Cardozo…Kid has been gret in CCL for LA and should be a star in years to come.

  16. joe says:

    i am totolly with you, before the combine i was a huge plata fan and he proved himself and won a lot of trust, this is an outrage, plata shoula won

  17. joe says:

    plata is da man