COLUMBUS, Ohio - Major League Soccer announced Monday that Crew defender Robin Fraser has been voted one of three finalists for MLS Defender of the Year. Joining Fraser as a finalist is Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad and MetroStars defender Eddie Pope.
"It is an incredible honor," said Fraser. "Anyone likes to feel that the job they are doing is good. But it truly is a reflection of the whole team and our success has allowed the defenders to get credit. In the end, it is attributed to how well the team has played all season."
Today's announcement marks the first of a series of three Monday announcements leading up to MLS Cup 2004 which will reveal all the finalists for the remainder of the League's annual year-end awards. Finalists for the seven other year-end awards will be made public on Nov. 1 and Nov. 8.
The MLS Honda MVP will be announced live on ESPNews on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 4:00 p.m. ET from the ESPNZone in Anaheim, California as a kick-off to the 2004 MLS Cup Weekend, culminating in the league's championship game to be played on Nov. 14 at The Home Depot Center (3:30 p.m. ET - live on ABC Sports). The winners of every other honor will be unveiled in the week leading up to MLS Cup 2004.
Fraser enjoyed one his best seasons in MLS after an off-season trade from Colorado to The Crew. 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 a 19-year old rookie, 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, Fraser is aiming for his second MLS Defender of the Year award, having won the award in 1999. He is the only defender to be a four-time Best XI selection, an honor he will likely add to this season.
"Robin is very deserving of this recognition," said Crew head coach Greg Andrulis. "He has come in and done exactly what we envisioned when we acquired him in the offseason, and that is to lead us both on and off the field."
The league also announced Monday the three finalists for Honda Most Valuable Player and Comeback Player of the Year. The three finalists for Honda MVP are Colorado Goalkeeper Joe Cannon, MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara and D.C. forward Jaime Moreno. The Comeback finalists are San Jose forward Brian Ching, Dallas midfielder Ronnie O'Brien and Moreno.
The Crew takes on New England in Game Two of its two-game, total-goal Eastern Conference Semifinal series on Sunday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m. at Crew Stadium. Columbus trails the series one-goal-to-none and needs to win by one goal to put the series into an immediate 30-minute, sudden-death overtime period or by two goals to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. If the teams are tied in total goals at the end of the 30-minute overtime the game will be decided by penalty kicks.
Tickets for Crew home playoff games can be acquired at the Crew Stadium Box Office, at any area Kroger Ticket Master outlet, via phone at 614-431-3600 or on line at TheCrew.com. Crew season ticket holders have Game One of the playoffs in their ticket packages.
Online voting for the Sierra Mist Goal of the Year is also underway on www.MLSnet.com. Fans have the opportunity to vote for the most spectacular goal of the year from a total of 42 nominees, which include all 29 weekly winners of the Sierra Mist Goal of Week in addition to a small group of other nominees. The top 10 goals after the first week of voting will enter a second round of voting from which the top three finalists for the 2004 Sierra Mist Goal of the Year will emerge. The Crew have six goals as candidates.