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Crew players, coach nominated for awards

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Four members of the Columbus Crew were among the finalists announced Wednesday for Major League Soccer's year-end awards. Winners for each award will be announced in the coming weeks, beginning with the Panasonic Goalkeeper of the Year and Fair Play winners on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player announcement will air live on ESPNews on Thursday, Nov. 20. The 2008 awards announcements culminate on Saturday, Nov. 22 with the unveiling of Major League Soccer's Best XI and the Comeback Player of the Year, which will both be announced at the MLS Awards Gala taking place in Los Angeles on the eve of MLS Cup 2008.

The four Crew finalists are:

William Hesmer - Panasonic Goalkeeper of the Year

Hesmer, who has started 49 of the Crew's last 50 matches including 29 this season, experienced a breakout campaign in 2008, when he helped lead a Crew defense that was among the league's best. Hesmer finished in a three-way tie for most shutouts this season, with 10, giving him a new career high in the process, and he also finished the regular season with the league lead in wins (17) and finished third in goals-against-average (1.14) and saves percentage (73.5).

Chad Marshall - Visa Defender of the Year

A big, athletic defender, Marshall has consistently frustrated the efforts of the opposition's attack in 2008 - thanks to his aerial dominance and well-timed tackles - while only earning two yellow card cautions all season. This season has also seen Marshall utilize his size and leaping ability to get on the end of set pieces, as he has registered a career-high four goals (three of which were game-winners) - good for second in the league among defenders - giving the Crew another dangerous offensive weapon.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto - Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player

Schelotto collected seven goals and 19 assists in 27 games, finishing first in the league in assists by a wide margin and establishing a new Crew record for most assists in a season (eclipsing John Wilmar Perez's 15 in 2001). It was also tied for the second highest total in a season in MLS history. Five of his assists led to game-winners and his extraordinary performances were recognized with four MLS Player of the Week selections, MLS Player of the Month honors for August and inclusion on the MLS All-Star Game inactive roster.

Sigi Schmid - MLS Coach of the Year

Under the direction of decorated head coach Sigi Schmid, the 2008 regular season was one of the best in Crew history, as the Black & Gold set a new club record for points in a season, eclipsing the 2004 Supporters' Shield-winning squad that earned 49, while also setting new club marks for wins and goals (50) in the post-shootout era (since 2000). While leading the Crew to the 2008 Supporters' Shield trophy, Schmid also achieved a pair of new personal milestones this season, as he notched his 100th career MLS victory on April 26 - making him only the second coach in MLS history to reach that milestone - and the club's 17 wins set a new single-season career-high, one more than his 2002 MLS Cup-champion Los Angeles Galaxy squad. Schmid influence is underscored by the fact that only Frankie Hejduk, Duncan Oughton and Visa Defender of the Year candidate Chad Marshall remain from the squad he inherited prior to the 2006 season.

The finalists, listed in alphabetical order below for each award, earned the most votes in polling of MLS players, general managers, coaches, referees and members of the media. The U.S. Soccer Foundation & MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year will be determined by representatives from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S., and will be announced on Friday, Nov. 7.

2008 Major League Soccer Awards Finalists

Panasonic Goalkeeper of the Year Finalists
Jon Busch - Chicago Fire
William Hesmer - Columbus Crew
Matt Reis - New England Revolution

Fair Play Finalists - Individual
Juan Pablo Angel - New York Red Bulls
Michael Parkhurst - New England Revolution
Chris Rolfe - Chicago Fire

MLS Comeback Player of the Year Finalists
Jon Busch - Chicago Fire
Kenny Cooper - FC Dallas
Santino Quaranta - D.C. United

Visa Defender of the Year Finalists
Jimmy Conrad - Kansas City Wizards
Chad Marshall - Columbus Crew
Bakary Soumare - Chicago Fire

adidas Referee of the Year Finalists
Michael Kennedy
Jair Marrufo
Terry Vaughn

Gatorade Rookie of the Year Finalists
Geoff Cameron - Houston Dynamo
Kheli Dube - New England Revolution
Sean Franklin - Los Angeles Galaxy

MLS Coach of the Year Finalists
Dominic Kinnear - Houston Dynamo
Sigi Schmid - Columbus Crew
Frank Yallop - San Jose Earthquakes

Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player Finalists
Cuauhtémoc Blanco - Chicago Fire
Landon Donovan - Los Angeles Galaxy
Guillermo Barros Schelotto - Columbus Crew

Newcomer of the Year
Darren Huckerby - San Jose Earthquakes
Claudio Lopez - Kansas City Wizards
Andre Rocha - FC Dallas

Schedule of Awards Announcements:

Tuesday, November 4
Panasonic Goalkeeper of the Year
Fair Play Award Individual & Team

Thursday, November 6
Visa Defender of the Year
adidas Referee of the Year

Friday, November 7
US Soccer Foundation & MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year

Tuesday, November 11
MLS Newcomer of the Year
MLS Coach of the Year

Thursday, November 13
Gatorade Rookie of the Year

Wednesday, November 19
Sierra Mist Goal of the Year

Thursday, November 20
Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player

Saturday, November 22
MLS Best XI
MLS Comeback Player of the Year