Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By IVES GALARCEP
In a year when strikers are racking up some sizable goal totals, the efforts of the top defender are that much more important to the hopes of the top teams in Major League Soccer.
So it should come as no coincidence that a list of the league’s top defenders through the first half of the season consists of key defenders for the league’s best teams.
If there is a team, and a defense, that has been a bigger surprise than the rest, it has been D.C. United, and the stingiest defense in the league has been led by the veteran presence of Bobby Boswell, who has been voted the SBI MLS Mid-Season Defender of the Year.
Boswell’s ability to read the game and put himself in good spots to break up plays have been key to leading a D.C. defense that has allowed just 21 goals in 21 matches this season.
Boswell beat out a strong list of candidates that included Seattle’s Chad Marshall, Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic.
Here is a run down of the Top Five Mid-Season Defender of the Year finalists, as chosen by SBI editorial staff:
SBI MLS MID-SEASON DEFENDER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
1. BOBBY BOSWELL
To understand Boswell’s value, consider his former team, the Houston Dynamo, has gone from one of the league’s tougher defenses to the league’s worst through the first half of this season.
2. CHAD MARSHALL
A steady and dominant force in the middle for the Seattle Sounders, Marshall has returned to the form that once made him the most dominant centerback in MLS.
3. MATT BESLER
Would probably top this list if not for the matches he missed while on U.S. World Cup duty. Had some uncharacteristic struggles before the World Cup, but has been back to his best since returning from Brazil.
4. A.J. DE LA GARZA
The Los Angeles Galaxy have spent almost half of their games without Omar Gonzalez, but have still managed to allow the fewest goals in MLS. A big reason for that has been the play of De La Garza, who has played anywhere he has been needed, giving the team a true leader in the back.
5. MATT HEDGES
FC Dallas has exceeded expectations in 2014, and done so despite the season-long injury status of centerback George John. Hedges has stepped up and played a key role in keeping FC Dallas in the heart of the Western Conference playoff race.
Now it’s your turn to cast your vote for MLS Mid-Season Defender of the Year.
Who did you vote for? Who didn’t make the ballot that you felt should have been on?
Share your thoughts below.