NEW YORK – Omar Gonzalez’s international future may still be in limbo, but he can add MLS Defender of the Year to his growing résumé.
MLS announced on Wednesday that the towering LA Galaxy center back beat out fellow finalists Jámison Olave, who collected the honor in 2010 and finished second this year, and Nat Borchers to earn the award given to the league’s top defender. The 23-year-old garnered 33 percent of votes from MLS club management, 40 percent from media and 21 percent from MLS players to win the award by a wide margin.
|Player||% of Club Votes||% of Media Votes||% of Player Votes||Weighted Total|
|Omar Gonzalez (LA)||33.33||39.79||21.34||94.47|
|Jamison Olave (RSL)||19.79||12.04||18.90||50.74|
|Nat Borchers (RSL)||7.29||6.28||7.93||21.50|
|Carlos Valdes (PHI)||6.25||9.42||3.66||19.33|
|Todd Dunivant (LA)||3.13||7.85||6.10||17.08|
Gonzalez started 29 games at center back for Bruce Arena in 2011, his third-straight season as a starter after being drafted out of Maryland with the third pick in the 2009 SuperDraft. He scored two goals and added an assist for the Galaxy while committing just 16 fouls in 2,599 minutes and collecting three yellow cards.
The Galaxy posted the best defensive record in MLS in 2011, allowing 28 goals and posting a goals-against-average (0.82) that was the third lowest in MLS history. Their 17 regular-season shutouts also tied the MLS record set by Kansas City in 2000, when the Wizards won MLS Cup.
Gonzalez is the second LA Galaxy player to win the award, following Robin Fraser in 1999, as well as the youngest honoree. Eddie Pope, Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Boswell and Michael Parkhurst were also 23 years old when they won, but Gonzalez is the youngest by virtue of an Oct. 11 birthday.
He was also a member of the MLS All-Star First XI this season and finished as the highest-rated defender in the Castrol Index (fourth overall) with a score of 9.17 from a possible 10. Gonzalez and the Galaxy will play the Houston Dynamo on Nov. 20 at the Home Depot Center in MLS Cup 2011.