Find out who the staff pick for the 2016 individual awards

MLS awards - generic

The Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs will return in two weeks, but in the meantime the end-of-season awards continue to roll out.

If you missed it, we already learned the winners of the Referee of the Year, Fair Play, and Humanitarian of the Year awards. This week we'll see the winners announced for AT&T Rookie of the Year (November 8) and Defender of the Year (November 9). From there, keep an eye out for Comeback Player of the Year (November 16), Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year (November 17), Newcomer of the Year (November 21), Coach of the Year (November 29), and, finally, the Landon Donoan MLS MVP award announcement on December 7.

In the meantime, we polled the editorial staff for their picks for the MVP, Defender, Goalkeeper, Newcomer, Rookie and Coach awards – you can find their takes here, and be sure to chime in with your own in the comments below!

All awards were voted on by a combination of current MLS players, current MLS club staff, and media memebers who consistently covered the 2016 MLS regular season. You can see all the finalists for the 2016 awards here.

Landon Donovan MLS MVP

Finalists: David Villa, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Sacha Kljestan

Find out who the staff pick for the 2016 individual awards -

Matt Doyle, Armchair Analyst: Kljestan. Only because they won't let me write in Sebastian Giovinco.

Arielle Castillo, Senior Editor: Kljestan. If I can’t write in Giovinco at this point, I’d like to give love to this mustachioed fan favorite. Sure, strikers make the sexy goals, but they do so even better with a top-class No. 10 handily gift-wrapping chances for them.

Ben Baer, Associate Editor: Wright-Phillips. Giovinco was my pick, but with the Red Bulls taking first in the East, it came down to Kljestan or BWP. The striker gets my vote because 24 goals is a lot of goals.

Greg Lalas, VP of Content: Sacha Kljestan.

Simon Borg, Editor-in-Chief: Kljestan. Simply the most consistent producer of the three finalists over the course of the season.

Andrew Wiebe, Senior Editor: Sebastian Giovinco. I’ll beat this horse until it’s good and dead. But since my complaining won’t change the fact that the Toronto FC talisman is not a finalist, Red Bulls No. 10 Sacha Kljestan, whose 2016 resume is plenty worthy, should take the award.

Nicholas Rosano, New Media Editor: David Villa. Surprised not to see more love from my colleagues for Villa, who was the model of consistency and professionalism throughout the season. And while I think the Red Bulls are still a playoff team (albeit a much lower seed) without one of Kljestan or BWP, I'm not so sure NYCFC are without Villa.

Ben Couch, Senior Editor: Kljestan. Without him, the Red Bulls are a spunky, uptempo squad everyone slots as their No. 2 watch on MLS LIVE. With him – they’re perennial contenders. As he goes, they go. We saw that this week.

Diego Pinzon, New Media Editor ( Wright-Phillips. Out of the three, BWP is the one who’s positively impacted his team the most. But my three personal MVP candidates are Mauro Diaz, Sebastian Giovinco, and Ignacio Piatti, in no particular order.

Defender of the Year

Finalists: Matt Hedges, Axel Sjoberg, Jelle Van Damme

Find out who the staff pick for the 2016 individual awards -

Doyle: Matt Hedges is a dominant presence on both sides of the ball, and the key vocal organizer for that backline.

Castillo: Van Damme. JVD came in as a question mark, and went out with his team for the season as the best CB in the league, a seemingly unbreakable defensive monster who can offer up assists, too. What more could you want?

Baer: Hedges. There’s no clear choice this year, but the MLS veteran had another stellar season. Dallas also struggled mightily without him (0.9 GAA with; 2.1 without), showing how important he is to the Dallas defense.

Lalas: Matt Hedges.

Borg: Jelle Van Damme. The best overall player among all the full-time defenders in MLS.

Wiebe: Axel Sjoberg. He’s not the most physically dominant. He’s not the most skilled on the ball. He’s not liable to be recognized out on the town. But damn if the big Swede with the name nobody can seem to pronounce wasn’t incredibly effective in 2016.

Rosano: Hedges. It's a tough choice, and I think Van Damme's ability to add offense while maintaining a consistently strong level of defense is impressive, but the with/without for Hedges on Dallas is too hard to overlook.

Couch: Sjoberg. Best defender on the best defense.

Pinzon: Sjoberg. The Swedish Wall has been huge (literally) for the best defensive team in MLS. He’s also proven to be a leader in a group led by the honorary Secretary of Defense, and I’m sure plenty would love to see this image on December 10:

Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year

Finalists: Andre Blake, Tim Howard, Luis Robles

Find out who the staff pick for the 2016 individual awards -

Doyle: Andre Blake had his bad moments, but also more spectacular saves than any other 'keeper in MLS, and kept the Union in games they'd otherwise have been blown out in.

Castillo: Robles. Here’s a vet who would live and die for his team and his fans, and saves the day defensively even when other things start to fall apart.

Baer: Blake. I voted David Bingham, but if I had to choose one of these three, it’s Andre Blake. Howard should be nowhere near the finalists list and Robles had an average season by his standards.

Lalas: Tim Howard.

Borg: Blake. The three finalists all handled their routine GK duties well, but Blake regularly came up with the game-breaking stop.

Wiebe: Blake. Quakes ‘keeper David Bingham should have been among the finalists. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m taking Blake. Though his form trailed off a bit, the Jamaican was the security blanket for a young backline and routinely made saves that bordered on the impossible.

Rosano: Blake. I suppose I'm beating a dead horse here by noting the Bingham omission, but there's no denying that the Jamaican international played a vital role in sending Philly to the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Couch: Blake. He kept the Union alive even as they showed up flat for the season's 2nd half. Bingham was my No. 2.

Pinzon: Robles. He's been the most consistent goalkeeper in recent MLS, and out of these three candidates, I think he has the edge – only because Howard came mid-season, and Blake didn’t have a good enough defense. But was there really any outstanding goalkeeping in MLS this season?

Newcomer of the Year

Find out who the staff pick for the 2016 individual awards -

Finalists: Nicolas Lodeiro, Ola Kamara, Jelle Van Damme

Doyle: Nicolas Lodeiro. The most important player in the league, maybe? Lodeiro's been almost impossibly good since his mid-season arrival.

Castillo: Lodeiro. While new, official head coach Brian Schmetzer played a huge role, it’s hard to imagine the Sounders making this year’s post-season run without the Uruguayan wonder.

Baer: Lodeiro. The Uruguayan completely transformed the Sounders season with his playmaking and final product. Without him, Seattle is not in the playoffs.

Lalas: Nicolas Lodeiro.

Borg: Ola Kamara. Kamara's stunning tally of 16 goals over merely 20 starts shouldn’t be diminished because his team didn’t make the playoffs.

Wiebe: Lodeiro. Kamara scored 16 goals, which is really good. Van Damme wasted no time establishing himself as one of the top defenders in MLS. Lodeiro changed the trajectory of an entire club in four months, and is already a leading 2017 MVP candidate.

Rosano: Lodeiro. See above.

Couch: Jelle Van Damme. Protest vote, since I know Nico will win – JVD’s longballs are a thing of beauty, and he controlled the middle for LA to boot!

Pinzon: Lodeiro. To me he’s one of the top 5 most remarkable, outstanding, impressive, productive and enjoyable signings in MLS history. Yes, history! Credit where credit is due, and I’m not sure the Sounders would be one of the best four MLS teams right now without him.

Rookie of the Year

Finalists: Jack Harrison, Jordan Morris, Keegan Rosenberry

Find out who the staff pick for the 2016 individual awards -

Doyle: Jordan Morris. If you set scoring records, you win Rookie of the Year – which is as it should be.

Castillo: Morris. He’s the great young hope for both club and country; end of story.

Baer: Morris. If I had voted on September 1, Rosenberry would have been the easy choice. But his decline in play and Morris’ ascension gives the forward the nod.

Lalas: Jordan Morris.

Borg: Morris. While the others dipped as the season went on, Morris continues to get better with every game.

Wiebe: Morris. Remember when Morris was a complimentary piece to Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey? Me neither. The Seattle native navigated intense pressure and shouldered an unexpectedly outsized role in his first professional campaign. The result was 12 goals, four assists and a miraculous playoff recovery.

Rosano: Morris. Easy pick here – Rosenberry started the year off strong but declined, while Morris stayed hot after a slow start. The latter takes the prize, every time.

Couch: Morris. The hype train pulled everyone along and picked up steam.

Pinzon: Morris. Well… he is the American Messi, after all

Coach of the Year

Finalists: Oscar Pareja, Pablo Mastroeni, Patrick Vieira

Find out who the staff pick for the 2016 individual awards -

Doyle: Pablo Mastroeni. Nobody expected Colorado to finish second in the Shield race. And Pablo got the Rapids there, despite missing their best player for all but nine games.

Castillo: Pareja. It’s almost just bad luck his squad couldn’t make the domestic treble this year, but the rest of the season speaks for itself. No one else has done so much with less need for showboating and fancy transfers.

Baer: Mastroeni. Nobody expected anything from the Rapids this season, we had them last in the Power Rankings entering the year, and Mastroeni led them to a second-place finish in the Supporters' Shield race.

Lalas: Pablo Mastroeni.

Borg: Oscar Pareja. The manager who has assembled the best and deepest team in MLS, with very few weak spots.

Wiebe: Mastroeni. What Oscar Pareja accomplished with FC Dallas this season was downright incredible, doubly so because he lost Best XI winger Fabian Castillo midseason. Still, Commerce City’s resident soccer philosopher gets my vote. I didn’t expect this, you didn’t expect this, nobody expected this from the Rapids.

Rosano: Mastroeni. It's not like Colorado were on the cusp in his previous two years – they were BAD. No one saw this coming, and they almost won the Shield.

Couch: Pareja. Highest expectations, masterful job meeting them. Respect to Pablo for that come up, though.

Pinzon: Pareja. Some of my colleagues here would argue “expectations were low” for Mastroeni and Colorado. So what? FC Dallas has been the most consistent team in MLS since Oscar Pareja grabbed the reins, and this year they topped it all off with two titles.