SBI MLS Defender of the Year: Jose Goncalves

Jose Goncalves

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

After missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season, New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps, a former defender himself, made it a point to improve the defense in the offseason.

One of those acquisitions, Jose Goncalves, immediately slotted into central defense alongside A.J. Soares and transformed a middle-of-the-road Revolution team into one of the stingiest in the league. For his role anchoring a defense that allowed just 38 regular season goals, Goncalves was voted SBI’s 2013 MLS Defender of the Year.

The 28-year-old captain also scored twice this season. His game-winning goals in victories over the Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact helped the Revs earn the third seed in the East for the MLS Cup playoffs.

Despite a slow start to the season that saw the Revolution win just twice through mid-May, Goncalves proved to be a rock in the back for the club, especially with starting goalkeeper Matt Reis on personal leave. Through the team’s first 10 games, despite the struggles to score, Goncalves helped them concede just 10 goals and keep five clean sheets. Take out a 4-1 defeat to the New York Red Bulls and it’s six goals allowed in nine games with five shutouts, an impressive feat.

Once the team’s scoring came along through the likes of Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez, and Juan Agudelo, the Revolution began recording victories more often on their way to a  14-win season. Goncalves’ veteran presence on the defense also surely helped the development of No. 1 pick Andrew Farrell, who had a very solid season at right back in his first year of professional soccer.

Goncalves beat out a deep field of contenders for the honor. Here is a rundown of the runners-up:

MATT BESLER

Last year’s SBI MLS Defender of the Year had himself another strong season, helping anchor Sporting KC’s back line to concede just 30 goals this season, tops in MLS. Besler appeared in just 23 games this season due to a large amount of time spent with the U.S. Men’s National Team and some minor injuries.

JAMISON OLAVE

Much like Goncalves, in Olave’s first year with the New York Red Bulls the Colombian helped lock down what had been a leaky defense and helped turn the club into Supporters’ Shield winners. Olave’s early season goal-scoring gave him four goals in 29 games played with 27 starts.

CHRIS KLUTE

In his first full season with the Colorado Rapids after being acquired late last season on loan from NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks, Chris Klute exploded onto the scene with his pace and quality passing from his left back position, as well as the energy and ability to track back and defend when needed. Though he didn’t score in 31 games played, Klute recorded seven assists.

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There were plenty of other terrific defenders this season, including Omar Gonzalez, Aurelien Collin, and Pa Modou Kah, but the three players above and Goncalves stood out from the rest of the group as voted by the SBI staff.

What do you think of our selection? Which defender impressed you the most in 2013?

Share your thoughts below.

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14 Responses to SBI MLS Defender of the Year: Jose Goncalves

  1. Strider257 says:

    So, I’m clueless, but is Klute an American? Could he be an option at left back for the USMNT?

    • Jersey2Colorado says:

      For the WC? nope

    • patrick says:

      yes, and yes, but not now, post 2014 WC he should be in the mix if he keeps playing the way he has.

    • Lost in Space says:

      Could see him called in for the January Camp-Cup-Cake.
      With Beasley likely to retire from international compitition after the WC, Castillo still to make a cast as a ligitimate LB for the nats, and F. Johnson more often than not played at LM we’ll need options at LB post 2014.
      If Klute continues to play well he could be one to watch.

    • beto says:

      hopefully he gets a JanCamp call up as I think he could play at the level.. only 1.5 years of MLS play hard to really say but it would be great to see a player go from NASL Reserves, to NASL, to MLS, to USMNT.

  2. DanO says:

    More than anything else, this was a GREAT signing by MLS and the Revs. A talented foreign player, in his prime (28 years old), who was able to contribute right away.

    The Beckhams and Henrys of the world may raise the public profile, but these are the type of signings that raise the quality of play.

    For a front office that takes a beating publicly, they’ve had a good year. The ownership group on the other hand…

    • JT Chang says:

      Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves on this being great signing yet. Goncalves is only on loan from FC Sion. There’s almost certainly an option to buy, but his form surely drove up the price tag associated with that.

      This will go from a good signing to a GREAT signing if the Revs manage to sign him up for a multi-year deal this winter.

      • DanO says:

        Fair enough. Point still stands that these are the type of imports the league needs.

      • Alex says:

        Generally if there’s an option to buy, the price is set at the beginning of the deal. The club who owns the player’s contract can’t change that at the end.

    • atd says:

      This is just spot-on IMO. He and Valeri are perfect examples of what a really smart foreign signing at an integral position can do for your team.

    • beto says:

      indeed. hopefully he stays around.

  3. Adrian says:

    Absolutely agree. In addition to what you mentioned the leadership he brought to the backline and the team as a whole has been huge.

  4. That's the truth says:

    OLAVE, OR GTFO

  5. Pingback: SBI Newcomer of the Year: Diego Valeri | Soccer By Ives