When it comes to awards some decisions are easy and some are more difficult. This year’s MASL Most Valuable Player award is up for grabs with no apparent consensus candidate.
Last year Frank Tayou destroyed the league record for goals en route to his third straight MVP award. His 71 goals were a PASL/MASL record, smashing his old record of 57. His 82 points were the second most in league history. His team, the Sonora Soles, made the playoffs with a 15-7 record after a 2-6 start. Easy. Peasy. Lemon squeezy.
No such open and shut case exists this year. Here we take a look at the pros and cons of this year’s top MVP candidates.
THE TOP TIER
Nick Perera, Tacoma Stars
The Case For: Perera led the MASL with 80 points and 41 assists. His point total is third best in league history and his assist total is second best. He figured in 80 of his team’s 162 goals. The second half of the season he had 48 points compared to 32 the first half. Perera, in his ninth season, had a previous career high in points of 49.
The Case Against: The Stars went 8-11 after a 4-1 start and had the worst record of all the playoff teams. 40 of his points (50%) came against the Turlock Express (3-21) and El Paso Coyotes (3-21) in eight games (33% of the schedule).
Brandon Escoto, San Diego Sockers
The Case For: Escoto, like Perera, has set new career highs in goals (32) and assists (23). Escoto became the first player other than Kraig Chiles to lead the Sockers in scoring since 2009-10 when Paul Wright led the team. Escoto had a highlight reel season, including four game winning goals as the Sockers won their final 21 games. Escoto was the only Socker who played all 24 games.
The Case Against: Escoto was only sixth in the MASL in points. 20 of his points came in six games against Turlock and El Paso. He was second to Chiles on the Sockers in goals and points per game, and second to Leonardo De Oliveira in assists.
Boris Pardo, San Diego Sockers
The Case For: Pardo started 23 of 24 games for the Sockers and led the league with a record 22 wins, while coming in second with a 3.90 GAA. With Joshua Lemos going 14-0 with a league-best 3.30 GAA, there could be a repeat of 1982-83 when Alan Mayer won the MVP award, but Zoltan Toth won Goalkeeper of the Year. The unflappable Pardo was 5-0 in overtime games.
The Case Against: The Sockers are such a deep team that they don’t depend on any one player. A goalkeeper has only won the MVP award once since 1998 (2008-09 Danny Waltman).
Franck Tayou, Monterrey Flash
The Case For: Big Franck led the MASL in goals again with 50. Tayou set a PASL/MASL record with 10 game winning goals, topping the old record of eight which he shared with Kraig Chiles. Tayou turned it up a notch in the second half with 28 goals, leading Monterrey to a 10-2 finish down the stretch.
The Case Against: Voters might have Franck Fatigue after three straight MVP awards. Despite an impressive 19-5 record, the Flash actually went 20-2 last year without Tayou on the roster. Despite all the goals, Tayou only finished third overall with 63 points.
THE SECOND TIER
Leo Gibson, Kansas City Comets
The Case For: Leo stayed true to the Comets in good times and bad times and was rewarded with a return to the playoffs this year. Gibson finished second in the MASL with 64 points. Gibson was second in assists and sixth in goals. With the Comets goalkeeping situation in two years of flux, Leo was by far the team’s most valuable player.
The Case Against: The Comets had the second worst record of the playoff teams. Gibson had a four game slump in late February/early March where he only had three points, which put him out of the scoring lead chase.
Ian Bennett, Milwaukee Wave
The Case For: Bennett led the Wave and was second in the MASL with 47 goals, including nine power play goals and five game winning goals, despite missing three games. Bennett is probably the best player in the MASL who has never won an MVP award. Ian led the league with eight hat tricks.
The Case Against: Bennett has the best supporting cast in the league around him, led by playmaker Max Ferdinand. Bennett finished fifth in points and only had 10 assists.
Kraig Chiles, San Diego Sockers
The Case For: Chiles led the Sockers with 35 goals and led the team with 2.6 points per game. Chiles has led the Sockers in goals 10 straight years. Chiles was second in the MASL with six game winning goals. Chiles ended the season with eight straight multi-point games
The Case Against: Chiles missed five games, and was not the focal point of the Sockers offense, a torch he was happy to pass. His 49 points were tied for seventh.
Josh Lemos, Milwaukee Wave
The Case For: The Wave were 15-0 when Lemos started this year and 6-3 when he did not. His back-ups allowed 1.79 more goals per game.
The Case Against: Lemos missed nine games. The new MASL rule restricting goalkeeper movements stunted Lemos’s offensive game. Is Lemos the most valuable Wave player?
THE WILD CARDS
Slavisa Ubiparipovic, Utica City FC
The Case For: Ubiparipovic was having a career year before a late season injury caused him to miss the season’s final five games, but he still led the team with a career-high 40 points.
The Case Against: Getting injured cause Ubiparipovic to go scoreless over the team’s final six games, where he plummeted to 14th in scoring.
Genoni Martinez, Rio Grande Valley Barracudas
The Case For: El Jefe de Jefes returned to the field at age 43 (now 44) to lead the Barracudas as a player/coach and he delivered immediate results, improving a 3-19 team to 16-8. Whether he’s the MVP, or Defender of the Year, or Coach of the Year you could make a case for either one or all three. Despite scoring only five points in his first 10 games, Martinez had 22 points in his final 14 games. No doubt he felt more comfortable contributing to the offense after lowering the team’s defensive numbers from 10.09 to 4.29 goals allowed per game.
The Case Against: While Martinez was the architect of the Barracudas roster overhaul, his on-field performance didn’t rise to MVP levels. The once-high scoring defender stayed mostly in his own defensive end early in the year, perhaps playing his way into shape at the age of 43 following a three year hiatus from the MASL. As the season went on his offensive contributions increased, but he still finished the year with a modest seven goals.
Gustavo Rosales, Rio Grande Valley Barracudas
The Case For: Rosales is a pesky two-way player, who is strong on the ball and his work rate and veteran savvy create all kinds of havoc for opposing teams. Rosales was in many ways a catalyst for the Barracudas 13-win improvement with a team high 22 assists, and he was third on the squad with 33 points.
The Case Against: Rosales isn’t exactly a household name and is unlikely to become one at 38 despite his great work with the Monterrey Flash and Sonora Soles the last five years.