Twellman captures MLS Honda MVP
New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman was named the 2005 Honda MLS Most Valuable Player on Thursday afternoon in a ceremony held at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. The 25-year old, who also won this year's Budweiser Golden Boot with 17 goals during the regular season, edged runners-up Dwayne De Rosario (San Jose Earthquakes) and Jaime Moreno (D.C. United) for the honor.
"It's an honor more so for the team," said Twellman after picking up his piece of hardware. "I know my name's on the award, but the recognition goes to my teammates. The only reason why I'm here is because of them."
"I want to congratulate all the finalists," added MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "Jaime Moreno, who can't be here today, from D.C. United and Dwayne -- what a great season. And Taylor, who we look forward to seeing at MLS Cup on ABC at 3:30 on Sunday."
Twellman led a versatile New England attack this season with his highest goal production since his first season in the league in 2002, during which he scored 23 times. But perhaps more impressive than his goal tally was his ability to change the game in a split second. Six of the U.S. international's strikes found the net as game-winners, while he also was a provider, recording two game-winning assists and seven overall. None of Twellman's goals came from penalty kicks, while Moreno -- who finished one goal behind Twellman for the Budweiser Golden Boot -- finished from the spot on nine occasions. New England was the second most potent attacking team in MLS this season with 55 goals scored in 32 games. D.C. United was the only side to hit the net more (58 times).
The Honda MVP is the third major award that Twellman has won this season. He was also selected as the Honda MVP of the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game, in which he scored the opening goal to lead the MLS All-Stars to a 4-1 defeat of England's Fulham FC at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on July 30.
Twellman is looking to add at least one more piece of hardware this season, and he'll have a chance to make it a championship ring when his Revs lineup against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday in MLS Cup 2005 at Pizza Hut Park (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC). He is the fourth league MVP to play in MLS Cup, two having won the title (Tony Meola, Kansas City Wizards, 2000; Carlos Ruiz, Los Angeles Galaxy, 2002). When asked to choose between being the league MVP and winning an MLS Cup, Twellman made his feelings clear.
"Hands down, MLS Cup," Twellman said. "You could see through my reaction, I wasn't smiling too much, because I'm more concerned with Sunday. There will be more time to celebrate later."
Not only did Twellman make an impression on the media, MLS players, and MLS coaches and general mangers -- which each provided 33.3 percent of the voting for the award - but he also again caught the eye of U.S. national team head coach Bruce Arena. After struggling mightily to take his goal scoring form to the international stage, Twellman finally opened his account for the Red, White and Blue when he struck against Panama in the USA's final World Cup qualifying match, held at the Revs' home field at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Oct. 12. Twellman hopes to continue to succeed in the league in order to nail down a spot for the 2006 World Cup team.
"I think that [my strong season] helps," he said. "At the end of the day, it's what you do tomorrow, not what you did yesterday. I just hope I keep getting chances."
A native of St. Louis, Twellman has played four seasons in MLS, all with the Revolution. His first professional experience came in Germany as a member of 1860 Munich, for which he appeared in over 40 reserve matches. Twellman left the University of Maryland for Europe after his sophomore season at the collegiate powerhouse.
De Rosario, who was awarded the Sierra Mist Goal of the Year award on Wednesday for his blistering free kick in the final week of the regular season against the Los Angeles Galaxy, was one of the top players in the league throughout the season. His success in an attacking midfield role, after mostly being used as a forward previously, propelled San Jose to the top of the Western Conference with 64 points from an 18-4-10 record. The Quakes were the first team ever to go through an entire season unbeaten at home on their way to the MLS Supporters' Shield. However, their regular season success was not duplicated in the playoffs, as they fell to the Galaxy by a 4-2 aggregate score in the Western Conference Semifinal Series.
"Definitely, for Taylor it was well-deserved," said De Rosario after Thursday's announcement. "I was up against great competition, a great set of players -- Jaime Moreno and Taylor Twellman. Our team did well. We're not where we wanted to be in MLS Cup, but we achieved some high honors this year."
Moreno finishes as an MVP runner-up for the second consecutive season after losing out on the award in 2004 to Amado Guevara of the MetroStars. An MLS original, Moreno had another great season for D.C. United, scoring 16 goals to take his career total to 94, good enough for second on the all-time list behind Real Salt Lake's Jason Kreis (100). D.C. United finished second in the Eastern Conference with 54 points from a 16-10-6 record, but they failed in their bid to repeat as MLS Cup champions when they were knocked out of the postseason by the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference Semifinal Series.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.