Jose Goncalves - Pick Em
USA Today Sports

Awards Pick 'Em: editors weigh in with Defender of the Year picks

It's been the most unpredictable, up-and-down MLS season in recent memory, and maybe of all-time. With one week left, any of the top five Western Conference teams could win the conference, while there are five Eastern Conference teams that could end up on 49 points – with three making the postseason, and two missing out.

But we're brave, so with what will probably be the wildest final week in league history remaining, we're dishing out our awards picks. Foolish? Maybe. But as the Romans said, audentes fortuna iuvat!

See the full awards schedule here!

Editor Score Comments

Greg Lalas

Sporting KC

In a year when no defender enjoyed an overtly dominating season, Besler pips NE's Gonçalves. Results matter and Sporting had the league's stingiest defense. His evolution this year from being really good to being world class was as smooth as one of his left-footed passes out of the back.

Jonah Freedman
Managing Editor

New England Revolution

As steady as Besler has been on a dominant backline, Gonçalves has been the anchor of a completely remade back four that, until halfway through the season, was by far the stingiest in the league. They've let up a bit since then, but the Revs are still fifth in MLS in goals allowed. The Portuguese veteran has been the calming voice through it all. He really holds the room together.

Kristel Valencia

New England Revolution

In his first season in MLS, the Portuguese brought experience, style and order to a chaotic defense in New England. His leadership was so elementary to the Revs – a team that got so dependent on him – that he instantly became the captain. With all due respect to Besler and his good campaign with SKC, Gonçalves did a more critical job in putting a young team on his shoulders.

Matt Doyle
Armchair Analyst

Colorado Rapids

End central defender hegemony now! No fullback has ever won the Defender of the Year award, and Klute probably won't change that – but he should. He's the best overlapping threat in the league, and has become a lockdown defender as well, dominating his entire side of the field.

Andrew Wiebe

New England Revolution

Besler, the leader of MLS’ stingiest defense, would have gotten this vote had he not missed nearly a third of the season, so Gonçalves’ immediate impact in New England earns the honors. The 28-year-old ticked all the boxes for Jay Heaps after signing in January, and hasn’t missed a minute all season long. Talk about a return on investment.

Jason Saghini
Director of Video

New England Revolution

He's been transformational for a team that leaked goals last year. More than anything, he has been consistent, playing well game in and game out over the course of the season while Heaps has had to mix and match in the back half of the field.

Simon Borg
Senior Editor

Portland Timbers

Jámison Olave is class for RBNY and Gonçalves is a difference-maker in New England, but Kah has been the single biggest reason why a shorthanded Timbers backline that everyone predicted would implode, ultimately never did. His no-nonsense defending and physical style have been a perfect fit for MLS.

Nick Rosano

New England Revolution

The Portuguese center back was an unheralded arrival in the offseason, but quickly made his name and would probably be Newcomer of the Year if not for one Diego Valeri. In a season where there's not a lot to choose from between the league's top defenders, Gonçalves' strong play in all facets of the game and his ability to organize the Revs back four makes him a sound choice for Defender of the Year.