Harry Shipp finished second among voters for the MLS Rookie of the Year award. The honor this season went to FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele. Both players finished with seven goals and Shipp had the edge in assists (6-3) and starts (26-18) but the perception that he hit the “rookie wall” late in the season after a hot start apparently hurt him. Akindele, like Shipp, scored a bulk of his seven goals via a hat trick and FC Dallas’ ad campaign may have helped a little while the Fire didn’t make much effort to push for their guy.
DC United defender Steve Birnbaum finished third while starting 21 games for the top finisher in the Eastern Conference. Akindele scored six of his seven goals during the months of July and August when voters are starting to consider their annual winners. Mid summer goals spurts and goofy ad campaigns were apparently more influential than overall production this season. The Fire’s lackluster season and record breaking number of draws didn’t help either.