Lost in the shuffle of the Fire's thrilling Eastern Conference Semifinals victory was the fact that the team announced the 2009 awards on Friday night.
Wilman Conde, Brian McBride and Logan Pause were the recipients of the honors, which included Team MVP, Team Golden Boot Winner, Team Defender of the Year and U.S. Soccer Foundation/MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Here's a full rundown of all the awards.
**Wilman Conde - Team Defender of the Year**
Winning the 2009 edition of the Fire's defender of the year was like winning a war of attrition. No "pure" defender (I'm excluding Mike Banner in this discussion) played more than 19 games in 2009 and every man on Denis Hamlett's opening day back line found themselves injured for a significant period of time or -- in the case of Bakary Soumare -- left the Fire in mid-season.
That said, I think Conde was a deserving honoree. He played well in nearly every game he was in and showed time and time again that he was a rock in a sometimes shaky Fire back four. Conde also added to the Fire's attack, scoring two goals and notching two assists on the season.
Other players that I considered on my ballot before I ultimately voted for Conde included C.J. Brown (solid play in 18 games, including 17 starts) and Tim Ward (good play on the right flank and 3 assists in 19 games). **Logan Pause - USSF/MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year**
Congratulations to Logan for netting this league-wide award, which he shared with Kansas City's Jimmy Conrad. Logan is certainly deserving of the honor, which is given out to the player(s) that donate the most of their time and effort to charitable causes throughout the season. Some of the organizations Logan volunteers his time to include the U.S. Soccer Foundation's Passback Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Garth Brooks Foundation and the Joshua Center in Chicago. Again, congratulations to Logan for earning this prestigious award.
**Brian McBride - Team Golden Boot and Team MVP**
While there's no denying McBride the Golden Boot award (it's given to the player who scored the most regular season goals, which McBride did with seven) the fact that he was the winner of the Team MVP is somewhat dubious.
After all, though McBride tallied seven goals this season, only one came after May 16th and he only paired those strikes with two assists. This is in contrast to the player I voted for as team MVP, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who not only provided the Fire with five goals this season but also with eight assists. Granted, McBride's leadership and intangibles shouldn't be discounted when thinking about the Team MVP, but when there are players like Blanco have clearly better stats than him, the choice has to be put into some question.
I'm not trying to take anything away from McBride here -- he certainly had one of the better seasons of all the Fire players -- just sharing my views on who I thought was this season's MVP.
Other players that were in the running but ultimately lost out on my MVP ballot included Chris Rolfe (6 goals, 1 assist in 28 games) and Marco Pappa (5 goals, 4 assists in 30 games).