On Tuesday, José Gonçalves was named 2013 MLS Defender of the Year, beating out past winners Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Jámison Olave for the top spot by a considerable margin. The New England center back finished nearly 50 points above the next closest player (Besler) with a weighted total of 102.32, a cumulative score based on three categories: club, media and player voting.
There aren't many people discrediting the Portuguese defender of a successful first season in MLS, but did he deserve to named No. 1? What do the stats say?
Gonçalves wasn't a huge offensive threat, scoring just twice in 36 games, however, each of his goals were rather special. Both came in shutout wins on the road and both were game-winners.
Despite his minimal contribution on the attacking side of the ball, he was incredibly reliable. Gonçalves logged every single minute throughout the 34-game regular season and 3,270 total minutes including the playoffs. Among defenders, only Kofi Sarkodie, Michael Harrington and Bobby Boswell spent more time on the field in 2013.
From a fantasy perspective, Gonçalves was very impressive.
- Total Score - second among defenders and seventh overall with 187
- Clean Sheets - tied for first among defenders and tied for third overall with 14
- CBIs (clearances, blocks and interceptions) - seventh overall with 325
- Recoveries - first among defenders with 254
He started out the 2013 season with a $5.5m price, but it didn't last long. With three clean sheets in his first five games, he quickly became a popular selection among fantasy owners, eclipsing the $6.0m mark in mid-May and topping out at $6.9m by late July. His final value was $6.5m (second-most among defenders).
The 28-year old will remain in New England for the upcoming MLS season and is sure to be a popular selection when the next fantasy game launches in 2014. He finished the year owned by nearly 15 percent of managers.
So at the end of it all, did Gonçalves deserve to be named 2013 MLS Defender of the Year? Yes. Do the stats support it? Absolutely.