Andrulis named Coach of Year, Fraser wins Defender of Year
Major League Soccer announced its end-of-the-year award winners today at the MLS Cup Media Luncheon in Carson, California and Crew Head Coach Greg Andrulis has been named MLS Coach of the Year and The Crew's Robin Fraser MLS Defender of the Year. The 2004 MLS Best XI will be announced at the MLS Awards Gala on Saturday, Nov. 13.It was the first time in Crew history that the organization has won the Coach of the Year award and the Defender of the Year award. It is Fraser's second MLS Defender of the Year award, with him winning in 1999 as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy. He also became the first defender to win it with two different teams and the second player to win the award twice (Carlos Bocanegra, Chicago in 2002, 03). Crew goalkeeper Jon Busch was one of three finalists for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year but was beat out by Colorado's Joe Cannon, and Crew defender Chad Marshall was one of three finalists for Gatorade Rookie of the Year but was edged out by New England forward Clint Dempsey. "On behalf of the entire Crew organization, congratulations to Greg and Robin for these well deserved honors," said Crew Interim General Manager Mark McCullers. "Our team achieved league records, the organizations first Eastern Conference Regular Season title and Supporters' Shield over the course of this season. Greg and Robin were obviously key contributors to that success although I'm confident that each would trade these individual awards for the opportunity to play in the MLS Cup this Sunday." In his fourth season at the helm of the Crew, Andrulis led his club to the best regular-season record in the league, as a result winning the Supporters' Shield. In the process, the Crew set an MLS-record with an 18-game unbeaten streak. The former long-time coach at Wright State University, Andrulis saw his team overcome a winless streak (0-3-2) at the start of the season by making a pair of vital changes in tactics, going to a three-defender scheme and changing the role of Kyle Martino. The Crew finished the season with its best record (12-5-13) in club history and its first-ever Eastern Conference regular season title. The other finalists for Coach of the Year were Western Conference Champion Bob Gansler (Kansas City Wizards) and Eastern Conference Champion Peter Nowak (D.C. United). "I would like to thank the Hunt Family for their support and my staff for all their hard work," said Andrulis. "It truly is a team award and the guys on the field deserve credit. I am honored and humbled by the recognition. I am also realistic that the best coach in Major League Soccer is coaching the Kansas City Wizards, for getting his team into a second final with all the things that Bob Gansler has been through this year. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the job he has done. And also Peter Nowak for taking a young team to the finals in his first year as a head coach." Fraser enjoyed one his best seasons in MLS after an off-season trade from Colorado. Aided by 10 shutouts, the Crew set an MLS record by finishing out the regular season with an MLS record 18-game unbeaten streak. The nine-year veteran led a young Crew defense, which included 19-year old rookie Marshall, and the team allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference (32) and tied for second least in the league on its way to its first Supporters' Shield in club history. The fourth overall pick in the 1996 Inaugural MLS draft, he is the only defender to be a four-time Best XI selection, an honor he will likely add to this season. Fraser beat out Eddie Pope (MetroStars) and Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City) for the award. "I've been around long enough to know that unless you are a goal scorer or a tremendous shot blocker that the only way to get individual recognition is by being a part of a good team," said Fraser. "The award truly is me benefiting from playing with a great group of guys and a well organized team."