The winner of the MLS Cup is still to be decided, but the awards for the best goal and best save of 2011 have been announced.
As LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo prepare to contest the Major League Soccer final on Sunday, the competition’s awards saw the best strike of the campaign go to Darlington Nagbe.
The Portland Timbers rookie juggled the ball before dispatching a well-timed volley from the edge of the area in a 2-1 loss at home to Sporting Kansas City in July.
It was the Liberian’s first goal in his debut MLS season, and he becomes just the second rookie ever to win the award.
While Nagbe’s strike was undeniably spectacular, many observers felt the award should have gone to Eric Hassli.
The Vancouver Whitecaps forward, unbalanced and heading away from goal, netted an extraordinary volley from distance to snatch a 2-2 draw against Seattle Sounders on June 11.
Regardless of the merits of each strike, the competition was decided by a fan vote, and the Timbers’ fanatical support proved able to dominate the poll.
MLS supporters also chose the best save of the campaign, and selected a quadruple stop by Seattle Sounders veteran Kasey Keller.
The 41-year-old former English Premier League player rolled back the years to keep out the San Jose Earthquakes, helping his side to a 2-1 win.
It was the last regular-season home match of Keller’s career, with the stop helping him win Save of the Year for the second campaign in succession.
Houston’s Brad Davis, DC United’s Dwayne De Rosario and FC Dallas man Brek Shea are the contenders for Most Valuable Player, with the winner to be announced on Friday.
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