Goalkeeper of the Year honor goes to Wicks of Portland
TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues announced Thursday the USL First Division Goalkeeper of the Year award and All-League Teams, honoring 22 of the top players in the league for the performance in 2007 as voted on by the league’s coaches and general managers.
Portland Timbers netminder Josh Wicks swept goalkeeper honors, earning the Goalkeeper of the Year award to go along with his GAA Championship for finishing the season with the best goals against average on the season.
Three players hit significant milestones in All-League honors with Montreal’s Gabriel Gervais being selected for a sixth time. Portland’s Andrew Gregor and Rochester’s Johnny Menyongar were named All-League for the fourth time in their career. The trio are among an exclusive group of 19 players to have earned four or more All-League honors dating back to 1986.
Not surprisingly, the top three teams that were vying for the regular season title going into the final weekend had the most representation with 11 between them. Montreal and Portland each had four with three being honored from Seattle. Atlanta, Rochester and Vancouver also had multiple players selected.
USL First Division All-League First Team
Goalkeeper of the Year – Josh Wicks (Portland Timbers)
Announced as the GAA Champion last week, Wicks allowed just 16 goals in 27 matches for a 0.603 goals-against average in 2007. The first-year Timbers goalkeeper finished the 2007 regular season as the league leader in several goalkeeping categories including games played, minutes (2,385), shutouts (14), and goals-against average. Wicks, 23, also finished second in wins (13) and third in goals allowed (16). In 2007, Wicks finished the season with a 13-4-9 record and set Timbers’ modern single-season records for wins, shutouts, and goals-against average. He was named the USL First Division Player of the Week in Week 11 and was selected to the Team of the Week in each of the final two weeks of the regular season. He joined the Timbers from the Vancouver Whitecaps, where he made 16 appearances in two seasons. It is Wicks’ first All-League honor.
Defender – Gabriel Gervais (Montreal Impact)
Another year… another All-League selection for the veteran. Gervais is the fifth player in the history of the league to be named All-League six times in his career and is the first to do so in consecutive seasons. The other five players to reach six are Danny Pena, Robin Fraser, Scott Schweitzer and teammate Mauro Biello. He helped guide the Impact to third in the league at 14-6-8 and the second lowest goals allowed total at 21. He saw action in 17 games this season and contributed offensively with a goal and two assists.
Defender – David Hayes (Atlanta Silverbacks)
A key player in the league since his debut with Milwaukee in 2001, Hayes is receiving the first All-League honor of his career. A critical member of the team’s back line with his aggressive play, Hayes was also a key contributor offensively for the club, finishing tied for the team lead in goals with league Scoring Champion Dan Antoniuk. His four assists also put him tied for seventh in the league in points.
Defender – Cameron Knowles (Portland Timbers)
The only player in the league to play every minute, Knowles was a key figure in the Timbers turnaround from tied for last in 2006 to second place a year later. Knowles joined the club from Real Salt Lake, where he played primarily with the reserve squad the previous two seasons, making just four appearances with the first team in 2005. Knowles also provided two goals and an assist for the Timbers on the season.
Midfielder – Stephen Armstrong (Charleston Battery)
In his second season with the club, the former four-year MLS midfielder finished tied for 11th in the league in scoring with 16 points on two assists and seven goals, which ranked tied for seventh. It is the first All-League honor for Armstrong, who previously played for DC, Kansas City and Columbus.
Midfielder – Andrew Gregor (Portland Timbers)
His fourth All-League honor is the first for Gregor not as a member of the Sounders. With Portland this season, he finished tied for third in the league in points with 21 points on eight goals (tied for fourth) and five assists (tied for fourth). His previous three All-League honors came with Seattle in 2002, 2003 and 2006. Gregor began his career in Columbus in 1998, joining the Sounders a year later for two seasons. In 2001 he split his time between Kansas City, Seattle and Pittsburgh before settling in as a USL-1 veteran with the Sounders through 2003. In 2004, he began the year in Vancouver, but joined Portland for the first time midseason and helped guide the team to a regular season title before returning to Seattle in 2005.
Midfielder – Martin Nash (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Nash has a lengthy USL-1 career dating back to his first season with Vancouver in 1995 and is being honored as an All-League player for the third time. For the second straight year he was among the league leaders in assists, finishing third this year with six in his 25 games played. He played his first two seasons in the league with the then 86ers before moving on to England for three seasons from late 1996-1999. He returned to USL in 1999, but played just one campaign for Vancouver before moving on to Rochester, where he won two titles in his three years with the club. He then joined Montreal in 2003 and returned to Vancouver, along with former Montreal coach Bob Lilley in 2004. His previous All-League honors were in 1996 and 2000.
Midfielder – Zinho (Miami FC)
Even at the age of 40, the former Brazilian World Cup champion continues to impress as the leader of the Miami midfield, finishing tied for 13th in scoring with 25 points on five goals and five assists in 25 games. He has been honored as an All-League selection in both seasons with Miami, earning the Assist Leader award as well last year.
Forward – Dan Antoniuk (Atlanta Silverbacks)
Antoniuk capped a three-year beginning to his career in Portland with an All-League honor in 2005, but has since found himself moved around the league. He joined Vancouver in 2006, but was sent to Montreal before the campaign even started last season. In the past offseason, he was moved again, finding a home and success once again in Atlanta. He finished the year as the Scoring Champion with the league lead in points with 23. He was tied for seventh in goals with seven, but took the Assist Leader honor with nine. He became just the second Assist Leader in league history to win the Scoring Championship without also winning the Goal Scoring title (Wolde Harris 1996).
Forward – Hamed Diallo (Rochester Rhinos)
A former leading scorer in the French Second Division, Diallo joined the Rhinos this season and made an immediate impact in the league with nine goals (third in the league) and two assists for 20 points (sixth in the league). He could have had more if it were not for VISA issues that forced trips back to France.
Forward – Sebastien Le Toux (Seattle Sounders)
The first-year Sounder striker picked up right where Rookie of the Year and co-Goal Scoring Champion Cam Weaver left off last season, finishing tied for the league lead in goals with 10 in 24 games for the Goal Scoring Championship. With two assists, he also finished second in the league in points with 22, one point shy of the Scoring Championship, as he guided Seattle to the regular season title.
USL First Division All-League Second Team
Goalkeeper – Matt Jordan (Montreal Impact)
Despite an eight-year career in MLS, Jordan came into the club with big shoes to fill with departing goalkeeper Greg Sutton having won four straight All-League honors and the last two Goalkeeper of the Year awards. He also had to compete with a back-up that was nearly equal to Sutton last year as they split time due to a Sutton injury. He showed why he was a former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist, however, finishing third in wins (10), fourth in shutouts (11) and second in goals against average (0.648) through his 19 games played on the year. He finished the latter part of the campaign with a mask due to a fractured jaw suffered midseason, posting four straight shutouts upon his return – six in the last eight games.
Defender – Taylor Graham (Seattle Sounders)
The Defender of the Year winner in 2005, Graham was signed by the New York Red Bulls after the club won the championship. But after being released midseason this year, he made a triumphant return to his former club to give them arguably the best back line in the league as they chased the Commissioner’s Cup for the regular season title. He also provided two goals in his 12 games with the club this season.
Defender – Steve Klein (Vancouver Whitecaps)
A nine-year veteran of the league, Klein is receiving his third consecutive All-League honor as a member of the Whitecaps, serving as a leader on the Vancouver back line in 24 games this season. He also had a goal and an assist. Klein began his career with the Tennessee Rhythm in 1998, before joining coach Bob Lilley in Hershey the following year. He played under Lilley for the Wildcats until joining the Charleston Battery in 2002. He would win a USL-1 title with the club in 2003 before re-uniting with Lilley in Vancouver in 2005.
Defender – Scot Thompson (Portland Timbers)
Thompson is quickly becoming a veteran of USL-1, earning his second All-League honor in three seasons with the Timbers. He played in all but one game this season for Portland and added two goals and an assist at the offensive end of the pitch. He began his career with the LA Galaxy in 2003 only to miss the campaign due to an ACL injury. The following year he played just one MLS match, but began his USL career with 13 Timbers appearances.
Defender – Marco Velez (Puerto Rico Islanders)
In his third campaign with Puerto Rico and fifth in USL-1, Velez is earning his first All-League honor after serving as a leader in the Islanders back line for 27 games this season. He also had one goal and one assist. He began his career in Seattle in 2003 and played two seasons with the Sounders before returning to his native Puerto Rico, where he is a member of the National Team.
Midfielder – Leonardo Di Lorenzo (Montreal Impact)
Since joining the team from Argentinos Juniors, Di Lorenzo has been an All-League selection both seasons with the Impact. He played in all 28 games for Montreal in 2007, contributing three goals and four assists on the stat sheet.
Midfielder – Brian Farber (Minnesota Thunder)
Unable to find a place where he fit, Farber spent the past two seasons on the San Jose and Houston reserve squads before joining the MISL California Cougars this past offseason. He found that home in Minnesota this season though as he played every game on the campaign and finished with a team leading seven goals (tied for seventh in the league), three assists and 17 points (tied for ninth).
Midfielder – Kupono Low (Carolina RailHawks)
As a leader on the expansion club, Low earned his first All-League honor after finishing the year tied for 11th in points (16) with six goals and four assists as he played in every game of the campaign. He began his career with Syracuse in 2004, but spent 2005 with Sligo Rovers in Scotland before returning in 2006 with Virginia Beach. He began his pro career in the USL Second Division in 2003 with the California Gold.
Midfielder – Johnny Menyongar (Rochester Rhinos)
The veteran midfielder/striker earned his first All-League honor in his second season in Rochester after earning three in his six previous seasons with Minnesota. Menyongar finished the season tied for ninth in points (17) and tied for fourth in assists (5) while also contributing six goals as he played every game of the campaign.
Forward – Charles Gbeke (Montreal Impact)
The fifth-year USL striker finally found his form for a playoff contender this season, finishing tied for the Goal Scoring Championship with 10 as he played in all 28 games. He also finished tied for third in points (21). He got his first taste of the league in 2001 with three appearances with Vancouver and one for Seattle before going abroad to France and Brazil. After a stint in the CPSL in 2002 and 2003, he joined the Toronto Lynx, where he had a breakout campaign with five goals and an assist for the cellar-dwellers in 2004. He split the 2005 season between Montreal and Toronto, but spent the 2006 season in Rochester, notching only two goals in 21 games.
Forward – Roger Levesque (Seattle Sounders)
Perhaps overshadowed by his strike partners Sebastien Le Toux, Cam Weaver, Maykel Galindo and Brent Whitfield the past three years, Levesque finally had a breakout year that earned All-League honors for the first time in five campaigns with the Sounders. He finished one point back of Le Toux, tied for third in the league in points with 21, and was tied for fourth in goals with eight in 27 games. He also finished tied for fourth in assists (5).
The finalists for the league awards Defender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and Most Valuable Player will be announced on Monday, September 24. The winners of the awards will be unveiled at the USL First Division Championship Banquet Friday, September 28. < div>
The USL-1 Championship Playoffs continue this weekend with the Semifinals. The Puerto Rico Islanders and Seattle Sounders square off with the winner facing the Portland Timbers or Atlanta Silverbacks of the other two-leg, aggregate score series. The championship is Saturday, September 29 at a site to be determined and will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel.