Repeating as Eastern Conference regular-season champions got the attention of MLS observers and the rest of the league apparently, giving Sporting Kansas City six finalists for five postseason honors.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
MLS announced three finalists in each category Thursday.
Midfielder Graham Zusi finds himself in great company as a finalist for MLS MVP along with San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski, the presumptive favorite for the honor after he matched the league’s all-time record with 27 goals this season, and French international superstar Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls.
Zusi led MLS with 15 assists, including a league-high and club record-tying five game-winning assists. He also matched his career high with five goals.
Meanwhile, after allowing league-low totals for goals (27) and shots (328), center backs Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin find themselves up for defender of the year along with Victor Bernardez of the San Jose Earthquakes.
Not surprisingly, Sporting KC captain and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen also is a finalist for goalkeeper-of-the year honor. He played every minute and led MLS in wins (18) and shutouts (15) with a club-record 0.79 goals-against average.
He’s up against Michael Gspurning of the Seattle Sounders and Dan Kennedy of Chivas USA.
Forward Kei Kamara is a finalist for the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year along with FC Dallas’ Chris Seitz and Michael Lahoud of the Philadelphia Union for his work back home in Sierra Leone.
Peter Vermes is a finalist for coach of the year for a second consecutive season after guiding Sporting KC to club records for points (63), regulation wins (18) and winning percentage (.662).
The other finalists are San Jose’s Frank Yallop, whose Earthquakes won the Supporters’ Shield, and D.C. United’s Ben Olsen.
MLS will begin announcing the winners next week.