The Fire usually announce their annual award winners during the pre game festivities of the first playoff match. There will be no such opportunity this year but the awards will be doled out anyway. Here's my take on the team's Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year, and Most Valuable Player for the 2010 season.
Rookie of the Year
This is the easiest one of the bunch. Sean Johnson made his MLS debut in a 3-2 win against the Galaxy in Los Angeles and immediately began racking up Save of the Week nominations. The 51st overall pick in the Superdraft proved to be a bright spot in anotherwise bleak season after taking over for Andrew Dykstra. Johnson stats (4-6-3, 1.31 GAA, 0.754 SV %) were comparable to Dykstra's (5-6-6, 1.24 GAA, 0.688 SV %) but he should be considered the starter going into 2011. The 21 year old was also ranked #8 in MLSsoccer.com's 24 Under 24 player rankings.
Defender of the Year
Wilman Conde participated in the All Star Game despite struggling for a majority of the season and claiming an MLS Best XI spot in 2009. Left back saw a revolving door of Krol, Umanzor, and Segares. The opposite side saw Tim Ward, Dasan Robinson, and ultimately rookie Steven Kinney get minutes but my vote for Defender of the Year goes to the guy who played more minutes than anyone else on the side. CJ Brown finished the last season of his career by playing in 26 of 30 matches and fought through various knocks. Despite admittedly not being as fast as he used to be, Brown made up for his lack of pace with leadership and knowledge that will be sorely missed if he does not return on the sidelines next season.
Although Marco Pappa won the team's Golden Boot Award (7 goals), Freddie Ljungberg was spectacular in a few matches, and Logan Pause was consistent for most of the season, no one player was more important to the side than Patrick Nyarko. His ten assists tied him for 5th in the league and his first half form kept the Fire within striking distance of the playoff contenders. Before suffering a concussion in early July against Columbus, Nyarko was one of the most dangerous wingers in MLS and caused nightmares for MLS defenders with his pace. The 24 year old forward also revealed late in the season that he was suffering from bone spurs in his right ankle that limited his play in the second half of the season. Although he can improve on his 1 goal output on 27 shots (12 on goal), Nyarko is another player who will play a big part in 2011 after becoming a force to be reckoned with in his third season with the team.