Miguel Almiron - Josef Martinez - Hugging
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Warshaw: Honoring the top performers halfway through the 2018 season

The midway point of the season is upon us (well, for some teams). It feels like a good excuse to dish out some hardware. Presenting . . . the MLS Midseason Awards, based on performance through Week 18.

Landon Donovan MLS MVP: Miguel Almiron (ATL)

Miguel Almiron | USA Today Sports Images

I don’t remember a player in MLS history who takes over as many parts of a game as Miguel Almiron does. The Paraguayan creates goals, scores goals, presses well, tracks back, takes the ball in tough spots in possession, problem solves during the game, and verbally leads his teammates. And Atlanta lead the Supporters’ Shield race and have been the most fun team to watch.

Other contenders: Bradley Wright-Phillips (RBNY), Carlos Vela (LAFC), Diego Chara (POR)

Goalkeeper of the Year: Matt Turner (NE)

Matt Turner | USA Today Sports Images

Matt Turner has single-handedly kept the Revs in games at times this year. He leads the lead in goals saved compared to expected goals, according to American Soccer Analysis, at nearly eight goals salvaged this season. As an added bonus, he’s also been excellent at starting counterattacks, a major part of the Revs attack, as shown below.

(Also, a shoutout to Portland’s Jeff Attinella, who is undefeated, 7-0-3, in his 10 starts this year.)

Other contenders: Tim Melia (SKC), Zack Steffen (CLB)

Defender of the Year: Michael Parkhurst (ATL)

Michael Parkhurst | USA Today Sports Images

There are barely any highlights of Michael Parkhurst. It’s been that way his whole career. He rarely makes sliding tackles or last-ditch lunges. He once went back-to-back MLS seasons without getting a single yellow card. But it’s that proactive, savvy nature that makes him so good. He’s always planning ahead, and it’s never been more important than with this Atlanta United team. Atlanta leads the league in goals scored — and adrenaline — but also still has the sixth-best defensive record. Parkhurst’s contributions extend beyond his own individual actions.

Other contenders: Graham Zusi (SKC), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Matt Hedges (DAL), Harrison Afful (CLB), Aaron Long (RBNY)

Rookie of the Year: Corey Baird (RSL)

Corey Baird, the RSL Homegrown Player, has notched four goals and two assists in 15 appearances in 2018. It’s a tight competition with the other contender for this award, Orlando’s Chris Mueller, who has three goals and four assists. But the tiebreakers goes to team performance, and RSL currently stands in the playoffs while Orlando does not.

Corey Baird | USA Today Sports Images

Newcomer of the Year: Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Vela narrowly beats out Red Bulls’ new attacking midfielder, Kaku. Vela has seven goals and five assists to has three goals and 10 assists. Kaku has been a fantastic addition to Jesse March’s team, particularly since his work rate matches their style. But in terms of overall contribution to a team and game, Vela gets the nod. Vela’s presence, let alone his ability, lifts LAFC to a new level. Every time he gets the ball, it feels like he could create a goal. Plus, awards often extend beyond contributions on the field, and Vela has made an expansion franchise feel like one of the most engrained teams in the league.

Other contenders: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (NYC)

Carlos Vela | USA Today Sports Images

Coach of the Year: Jesse Marsch (RBNY)

Jesse Marsch | Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Bulls have done the three things every organization says they want to do: create a defined, attractive style that’s synonymous with the crest; develop talent from within; empower players to achieve more than they ever have in their careers. Head coach Jesse Marsch deserves a bulk of the credit. His players are perfectly drilled at how they want to play, and they play with confidence and swagger. For it, they are firmly in both the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup races.

Here's an example of what they can do to their opponents. 

Other contenders: Tata Martino (ATL), Veljko Paunovic (CHI), Gio Savarese (POR), Bob Bradley (LAFC), Peter Vermes (SKC), Oscar Pareja (DAL), Gregg Berhalter (CLB)

BEST XI

Matt Turner (NE); Graham Zusi (SKC), Michael Parkhurst (ATL), Aaron Long (RBNY), Milton Valenzuela (CLB); Diego Chara (POR); Ignacio Piatti (MTL), Miguel Almiron (ATL), Carlos Vela (LAFC) ; Bradley Wright-Phillips (RBNY), Josef Martinez (ATL).

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