I did an article featuring these same categories halfway through the year, which you can find here. At that point in time, Jairo Arrieta had only made one appearance with the team, and Federico Higuain was still over a month away from getting his first minutes. Once they got on the field, what a difference these two players made! Together, they gave Columbus a constantly dangerous attack for the entirety of the game, with Arrieta chasing down everything and Higuain providing the creative magic to cut through any defense.
The Crew also held their own awards ceremony a few weeks ago, including winners in a few different categories.
I present to you, Be Massive Soccer’s 2012 Crew Awards:
Rookie of the Year: Ethan Finlay
Finlay made the most appearances this season out of all the Crew’s rookies with fifteen. Although usually used as a substitute, Finlay proved his flexibility, starting the season as a speedy forward/winger and ending it as a backup full back. Once he polishes his final product a tad bit more, Finlay could be quite the utility player, especially during the end of games against tired defenses.
Mid-season winner: Ethan Finlay
Newcomer of the Year: Jairo Arrieta
Even though he only played in eighteen games, Arrieta tied Eddie Gaven for the team lead in goals with nine while also picking up four assists. Although offside more times than not, that is only a testament to the way he plays. Arrieta is always waiting for that one ball to get behind the defense and give Columbus the lead with his fine finishing. Although he plays like a poacher, Arrieta is far from lazy. He is more than willing to pressure the defense and run down any ball.
Mid-season winner: Nemanja Vukovic
Breakthrough Player: Josh Williams
Although forced to play out of position at left-back for the second half of the season, Williams cemented himself as one of the league’s most athletic defenders. Starting the season at center back, Williams proved to be the Crew’s best option there, outmuscling opponents, making diving blocks, and winning aerial battles. He also chipped in with a goal and three assists, though many time he seemed to be the unluckiest soccer player in history. Williams played the fourth-most minutes for Columbus in 2012 after not making a single appearance during his first two years with the club.
Mid-season winner: Josh Williams
Most Exciting Player: Federico Higuain
Never before has a player come into MLS with such fire. In Higuain’s first five games, the Argentine picked up three goals and six assists, tearing through opponents’ defenses and blasting free kicks into the net. The little magician ended in second place on the team in goals created despite playing just over 1,000 minutes. With Higuain pulling the strings, anything seems possible.
Mid-season winner: Justin Meram
Most Frustrating Player: Chad Marshall
Marshall wasn’t the defensive stalwart of old that we had come to know and love this year. The former two-time MLS Defensive Player of the Year seemed a step slow in 2012, whether it was in the air or on the dribble. His best attribute used to be his heading ability, but one has to wonder the impact his numerous concussions have had on him. Granted, Marshall is still a level above most MLS defenders, but 2012 was definitely not his best year.
Mid-season winner: Dilly Duka
Most Consistent Offensive Player: Eddie Gaven
Gaven is arguably the most consistent player in all of MLS, and 2012 was his best season to date. The bearded one had nine goals and two assists this season while starting every single game. He is not the flashiest player, nor the most skilled, but his energy, finishing, and defensive cover make him a guaranteed starter.
Mid-season winner: Eddie Gaven
Most Consistent Defensive Player: Sebastian Miranda
Right-back Sebastian Miranda had a very Brian Carrol-esque season in 2012. He played in all but one game this year, providing above average defensive coverage and also adding to the attack with his long crosses. Miranda is not the flashiest player, but you always know what you will get when he is on the field: a steady performance up and down the right flank.
Mid-season winner: Sebastian Miranda
Biggest Disappointment: Robert Warzycha
Warzycha has been in command of this team for four seasons, and the Crew’s final league position has dropped each and every year. Yes, Arrieta and Higuain have given this team promise that has not existed since the days of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, but under Warzycha’s reign, will we ever see their full capabilities? Warzycha’s complete personal mismanagement of Nemanja Vukovic and, later in the year, Dilly Duka, coupled with yet another late-season meltdown, has fans wondering what he has to do to get fired.
Mid-season winner: Milovan Mirosevic
Goal of the Year: Emilio Renteria v. Seattle Sounders (May 23rd)
I seem to be in the minority with this category, but Renteria’s half-volley from the top of the penalty arc was a shot every soccer player dreams about hitting. The fact that it helped the Crew pick up their first ever win against Seattle also helps its importance factor. Sure, Sebastian Miranda’s header was quite rare based on its distance, but it would not be clamoring any attention if it were scored closer to goal. That being said, this category was really only a two-horse race between these goals this season.
Mid-season winner: Emilio Renteria v. Seattle Sounders (May 23rd)
Team MVP: Andy Gruenebaum
His defense did not help him out much during the second half of the season, but Gruenebaum had, by far, the best stretch of games from a goalie I have ever seen in 2012. His flying saves and pure shot-stopping ability were on display from the moment he stepped on the field. If it were not for Gruenebaum’s near heroic exploits at the beginning of the year, Columbus would not have even be close to the playoff hunt at the end of the season. In his first year as a starter, Gruenebaum proved himself a worthy candidate for the number one jersey.
Mid-season winner: Andy Gruenebaum
The team may not have made the postseason, but the fans will be back next year. Sure, it did not end like we all think it should have, and, yes, a large majority are clamoring for a change in leadership, but, as they say, Columbus ‘Til I Die.