The harbinger of doom
November 27, 2012
We waited with baited breath for 2012's Defender of the Year award -- yes, really! -- for it has served as a harbinger of doom: every time a defender has won it, his Metro career goes into a decline, and he is off the team in less than two years. Witness:
From 1996 to 2002, the award was won by a goalkeeper every time but once. Twice by Tony Meola, twice by Mike Ammann, and twice by Tim Howard. The one time a defender took it was 1997, with Rhett Harty winning. An injury limited him in 1998, and he was out of MLS after the season. It was a sign of things to come.
In 2003, Eddie Pope had a fantastic season, the best -- by far -- as a defender in Metro history. He repeated as Defender of the Year in 2004, the last such accomplishment in team history. However, he won that year on reputation alone, as Pope was outplayed by rookie Jeff Parke. In any case, Pope was shipped off to Salt Lake after the season.
Chris Leitch won in 2005, and he didn't have to wait for the offseason to begin his decline: he was benched for the key late-season stretch, as well as the playoffs. Oh, and then he was released and subsequently traded to Columbus. Carlos Mendes won in 2006, the lone exception to the harbinger. However, his playing time steadily declined during his next five seasons with Metro, and he never regained his early form for a long stretch of time. (And who can forget when that genius Juan Carlos Osorio played him in midfield. Thanks, master tactician!)
Parke finally won in 2007, and should have won in 2008... except that he got a late-season suspension for unknowingly using banned substances. The idiots in charge left him unprotected in the expansion draft. Kevin Goldthwaite, the winner in 2008, had to suffer through the horrors of 2009, but didn't play a single game the following season, cut after returning from injury. Someone had to win in 2009, so it was Mike Petke, but he saw reduced time in 2010, and retired after the season.
Tim Ream was fantastic as a rookie in 2010, but much worse (although still better than Rafa Marquez) next year, and was sold to Bolton after the season. Jan Gunnar Solli, a defender in name only, won in 2011, but this past season saw a move to midfield and reduced playing time. He has just been released.
Which brings us to 2012's winner. There was no clear selection this time around, so the honor goes to S. Markus Holgersson. Watch out, vice captain... The harbinger of doom is rarely mistaken.