The second game of our home-and-home series against Colorado provided me with the perfect opportunity to congratulate my friend Joe Cannon on the success he has enjoyed this season. With a goals against average that threatens records in league history, I certainly recognize his quality. Hopefully, he takes his absence from the All-Star Game in stride and continues the form that could make him the first goalkeeper to win two MLS Goalkeeper of the Year titles. I know for a fact that myself, Tony (Meola), Pat (Onstad) and Joe all covet the honor. I was fortunate enough to win my only Goalkeeper of the Year award after missing out on an All-Star appearance in 1999.
I think as you get older and grow with this league, it is easy to see things from multiple perspectives. With Sigi's appointment to head the Western Conference All-Stars, his votes were a reflection of the votes cast throughout the internet, players, coaches and media. It seems fair to also note that the cities with big internet audiences seem to always fare well in the All-Star starting lineup. However, since the coach is usually named based on the performance of his team, could you really moan at a coach for rewarding his own players? For those of you who did not know, players earn bonuses which, in some instances, can be huge in terms of what they earn each year. I'm sure that by rewarding your team, you could probably expect at least an additional effort when perhaps even the players thought the tank was empty.
When the Galaxy laid out our preseason lineup, I'm fairly certain our central defense consisted of Tyrone Marshall and Danny Califf. However, with the injuries that came about, we found ourselves plugging holes from the get-go. Ryan Suarez has stepped in and has provided the club with quality defense, seemingly more blocks than I have saves and a great head of hair. So, Greg Lalas, my non-commissioned pick goes to Ryan Suarez, who has helped push this L.A. Galaxy team to the top of the tables. And, although I usually agree with Greg about most things, including his love of Tesla, his sucker-punch at me on MLSnet.com is actually illegal in most states, including Nevada. I worked a camp with you years ago, Greg. You might not remember it, but I do. So, now instead of just Alexi, I have to take Lex Lanos over you, every day of the week. Just kidding with you, but hey - with studs coming up that high, its safer to duck.
And my second non-commissioned pick ... Alejandro Moreno. Not only is he a huge Nectar Drop fan, but he also shot 100 percent on his first five shots this season. Alejandro is the hardest and most tenacious worker north of a midfielder. He filled in admirably when called upon and deserves the recognition. He has sat atop the league's goal-scoring charts and even asked how can he be voted to the team if his name is not even on the ballot. Funding for his write-in campaign came up short, so he took the eight dollars and went to Chipotle.
Congrats to each of the All-Stars and to the guys who deserve to be there as well. You garner the respect of those who matter most, your fellow players. Personally speaking, these guys have made it a great year - Suariño with his great hair and his need to backheel and Alejandro with his "No Ball Unchallenged" attitude. If Shaq is the Mercedes SL55 AMG of his league, then these guys are the 1997 Honda Accord of MLS - a fine automobile which is reasonably-priced, goes a long way for what you put in it, and, even dented, does not quit.
Kevin Hartman, a goalkeeper for the Los Angeles Galaxy, will be checking in with fans all season long.