CARSON, Calif. – Three LA Galaxy players have been named as finalists for the annual year-end MLS awards. Edson Buddle is one of three finalists for the 2010 Volkswagen Most Valuable Player award, while Omar Gonzalez has been named a finalist for the Visa Defender of the Year and Donovan Ricketts is a finalist for the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award for the second straight season. All three players are looking to win their respective awards for the first time in their MLS careers.
The winners of all league awards will be announced in the coming weeks, culminating with the unveiling of the 2010 Volkswagen MLS MVP and 2010 Commissioner’s Award on Friday, November 19, two days ahead of MLS Cup 2010 in Toronto.
The Galaxy’s team MVP and Golden Boot winner in 2009, Buddle was one of the breakout stars in MLS in 2010, finishing second in the league with a career-high 17 goals. He scored each of the Galaxy’s first seven goals this season and nine of their first 10 before heading to South Africa as part of the U.S. National Team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. After returning from the World Cup, Buddle continued to score, leading the team in goals all season long en route to becoming the first player other than Landon Donovan or Carlos Ruiz to win the Galaxy’s Golden Boot award since 2001. His seven game-winning goals were the second most in MLS this season, while his four multi-goal games were tied for the most in the league. The Galaxy were 11-1-1 when Buddle scored this season, compared to just 7-6-4 when he did not.
In addition to Buddle, the other two finalists for the Volkswagen MLS MVP award, which was won by the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan in 2009, are FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira and San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski, who finished the season with a league-best 18 goals.
Omar Gonzalez, the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year, is up for the Visa Defender of the Year award alongside Real Salt Lake central defenders Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave. Gonzalez appeared in and started 28 of the Galaxy’s 30 games this season, helping the club record an 18-5-4 record in games that he played. His 28 games started and 2,520 minutes played were the most for any outfield player on the club, playing the full 90 minutes in each of those games. The 22-year-old center back was also active at the attacking end of the field, scoring twice with headers off corner kicks, one of which came in second half stoppage time at Chicago on September 4, earning LA a 1-1 draw, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Donovan Ricketts rounds out the Galaxy’s three award finalists as one of three nominees for the Goalkeeper of the Year award along with former Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman of FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando. Ricketts set a club record by recording a 0.90 goals against average, allowing 26 goals in the 29 games that he played this season. Ricketts had an 18-7-4 record on the season and kept 11 clean sheets, tying a club record that was set by Hartman in 1999. Now in his second season with the Galaxy, Ricketts has been nominated for the Goalkeeper of the Year award in each of his two seasons with the Galaxy. His 0.96 career goals against average is the lowest in MLS history amongst goalkeepers that have played 500 minutes or more.
The Goalkeeper of the Year award winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 3 and the Defender of the Year award will be announced on Friday, November 5. The MVP award will be presented in Toronto on Friday, November 19.
Buddle, Gonzalez, Ricketts and the rest of the Galaxy will travel to Seattle for Sunday’s first leg of their Western Conference Semifinal Series against the Sounders. That game can be seen live on ESPN2 starting at 5 p.m. Tickets for the return leg of that series, which will be played at 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 7 at The Home Depot Center, are on sale now. Fans can also purchase tickets now for a potential Western Conference Championship, which LA would host if they advance past the Sounders. For more information about these games or to purchase tickets, please visit www.lagalaxy.com or call 1-877-3GALAXY (342-5299).