They might not have made the MLS Cup playoffs, but the Chicago Fire certainly turned heads as they closed out the regular season. On Monday, rookie Jalil Anibaba kept his team in the headlines by winning the final Player of the Week award, as voted on by the North American Soccer Reporters.
The Fire defender scored two stunning headed goals in his team's season finale at Toyota Park on Saturday in a 3-2 win over Columbus. Anibaba bagged his first MLS goal in the 11th minute with a glancing header from midfielder Pável Pardo's inch-perfect cross. He then added a second at the half-hour mark with a superb long-range header from fellow center back Cory Gibbs’ cross.
The University of North Carolina product waited until the final game of the season to score his first MLS goal, and just like buses, two came along at once.
Anibaba becomes the second Chicago player to win Player of the Week in 2011, two weeks after Marco Pappa was voted the winner. That makes two of the last three honors going to Fire players, as Frank Klopas’ men finished the season strong.
The 23-year-old Anibaba also became just the second defender to win the award this season, joining Seattle’s Jeff Parke.
2011 PLAYER OF THE WEEK WINNERS
Week 32: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire
Week 30/31: Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders FC)
Week 29: Marco Pappa (Chicago Fire)
Week 28: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
Week 27: Danny Koevermans (Toronto FC)
Week 25/26: Charlie Davies (D.C. United)
Week 24: Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders)
Week 23: Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Week 22: Chris Pontius (D.C. United)
Week 21: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
Week 20: Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United)
Week 19: Sanna Nyassi (Colorado Rapids)
Week 18: Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders)
Week 17: Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders)
Week 16: Joel Lindpere (New York Red Bulls)
Week 15: Mike Magee (LA Galaxy)
Week 14: Bernardo Anor (Columbus Crew)
Week 13: Steven Lenhart (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 12: Jean Alexandre (Real Salt Lake)
Week 11: Justin Mapp (Philadelphia Union)
Week 10: Jeff Parke (Seattle Sounders)
Week 9: Justin Braun (Chivas USA)
Week 8: Joao Plata (Toronto FC)
Week 7: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo)
Week 6: Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
Week 5: Luke Rodgers (New York Red Bulls)
Week 4: David Ferreira (FC Dallas)
Week 3: Camilo (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Week 2: Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)
Week 1: Omar Bravo (Sporting Kansas City)