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Sjoberg, Howard, Mastroeni Nominated for MLS Awards

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The Rapids season of success continues, and we just keep on winning.

MLS: Conference Semifinals-Colorado Rapids at Los Angeles Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rapids defender Axel Sjöberg, goalkeeper Tim Howard, and manager Pablo Mastroeni have been nominated by MLS for their end-of-year awards.

Sjöberg was nominated along with Matt Hedges and Jelle Van Damme for Defender of the Year. Tim Howard was nominated alongside Luis Robles and Andre Blake for Goalkeeper of the Year. And Mastroeni was nominated with fellow coaches Jesse Marsh and Patrick Viera for Coach of the Year.

Sjöberg ended the MLS regular season second in the league in clearances with 159, seventh in blocks with 21, and twenty-sixth in interceptions with 75. He finished the year with 2 goals, 1 assist, and started in 31 of the Rapids 34 regular season games, and was second only to Sam Cronin in minutes played for the Rapids. His last second header away against Portland to steal a point at the death was a defining moment of the Rapids season, and the embodiment of the Rapids #KeepFighting mentality this year. If all that isn’t enough, this video about Sjöberg is absolutely adorable.

Tim Howard qualified for the award despite not joining MLS until the Summer transfer window opened on July 4. Counting stats are far more subjective for goal keepers than they are for field players, but some of Howards numbers still tell the story of how effective he was for Colorado. Despite not playing half the season, Howard had 7 clean sheets, good enough for ninth in MLS among GKs. His save percentage of 74.0% is second among regular MLS starters, behind only the LA Galaxy’s Brian Rowe. Howard’s record as GK was 6-8-3 (WTL). Last night, Howard took the Rapids award as co-MVP of the team, alongside fellow GK Zac MacMath, whose numbers (6 clean sheets, 68.4% save pct., a 9-5-3 record) were pretty close to Howard’s.

Pablo Mastroeni guided the Rapids to a 15-13-6 record this season, good enough for runner-up in the Supporters Shield race. The success on field resulted in the Rapids locking up a 2017 Concacaf Champions League spot and the Rapids first playoff spot since 2013. That followed Mastroeni’s first two seasons with the Rapids which were a struggle, to say the least. In his first two seasons, the Rapids were 17-18-33 (WTL). Mastroeni certainly deserves some or much of the credit for the team’s dramatic turnaround in 2016. The team has certainly developed a tactical identity over Mastroeni’s tenure with the squad and has begun to work with the front office to find the players that match the style he wants to play. In addition, Mastroeni deserves a huge amount of credit for the Rapids undefeated season at home at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this year, as the team had an MLS-best home record of 11-6-0.

All of us at Burgundy Wave wish a hearty congratulations to the nominees. The Defender of the Year Award will be announced November 11, Goalkeeper of the Year on November 17, and Coach of the Year on November 29.