No person in 2020 was as sturdy for so long as Alejandro Pozuelo. His dominant 2020 marketing campaign helped drive Toronto FC in a late season Supporters’ Defend race towards the Philadelphia Union, and whereas Toronto in the end fell quick, it was not for a scarcity of effort from the Spaniard.
Pozuelo’s monster season was hardly a shock both – it got here a yr after he secured a spot within the MLS Finest XI in 2019, when he led his crew to the title recreation. But even in a season full of quarantines and bubbles, Pozuelo raised the bar. In his sophomore season in MLS, he contributed 10 assists, co-leader throughout the league, and 9 objectives, good for a share of eighth place.
Darlington Nagbe towards the Chicago Fireplace. The ball discovered itself at Nagbe’s toes on a pointy go from Gyasi Zardes. Nagbe popped up the ball to himself, twisted his physique round and nailed the within of the left submit with an ideal volley. It was the type of purpose that deserves to be celebrated by followers roaring in delight. And but, on this curious Covid-19 affected season, the yells of his Columbus Crew teammates did the purpose justice as greatest they might.
Staff of the yr
It’s been a tricky decade for the Philadelphia Union, but when 2020 was an indication of issues to return, the subsequent 10 years are wanting extremely vivid. After falling simply quick within the semi-finals of the MLS Is Again Match, the Union’s affected person crew constructing and belief in head coach Jim Curtin paid off after they completed the yr with the very best regular-season file.
A shock first-round elimination to the New England Revolution within the MLS playoffs reduce their season quick, however managing the madness of the abbreviated season was no small process. For maybe the primary time since their inaugural season, Union supporters have have lots to look ahead to.
Fiasco of the yr
Till a number of weeks in the past, this may have been the preliminary determination to not award the Supporters’ Defend, and the next reversal by the Supporters’ Defend Basis. However in late November, allegations by former NYC FC intern Skyler Badillo of sexual harassment by David Villa surfaced within the Athletic (Villa denies the claims). The story particulars how Badillo’s discomfort with Villa’s alleged advances weren’t solely ignored by her bosses, who have been conscious of the scenario, but additionally have been made into operating jokes. The report cited different NYC FC gamers who corroborated Badillo’s account. It’s distressing that in a post-Me Too world, groups nonetheless deal with sexual harassment so poorly.
Coach of the yr
Throughout his tenure on the Philadelphia Union, Jim Curtin has by no means had the finances that coaches of the LA Galaxy, LAFC, or Atlanta United get pleasure from. However he’s all the time made essentially the most of what he has had. His first teaching expertise in MLS got here in 2010 on the Union’s academy, and he labored his means up the group’s ladder to turn into head coach in 2014. Regardless of a number of lackluster rosters in his early years in Philadelphia, Curtin prioritized the US Open Cup and led the crew to finals appearances in 2014, 2015, and 2018. Just a few good signings and a rejuvenated youth academy later, Curtin led the revamped Union to their first main trophy in 2020 with a Supporters’ Defend victory.
Story of the yr
The Columbus Crew’s run to MLS Cup remaining victory hasn’t precisely been a Cinderella story when you take into account solely on-field circumstances. They have been a good third in MLS throughout a chaotic rescheduled season. However lower than two years away from what appeared like sure relocation to Austin, Texas, you’ll need to forgive Crew followers in the event that they rejoice like there’s no tomorrow after their championship season.
The brand new, regionally primarily based, homeowners have constructed the crew a state-of-the-art stadium in downtown Columbus, the place they are going to transfer subsequent yr. Head coach Caleb Porter’s earlier MLS Cup journey was a win on the helm of Portland Timbers in 2015, towards … the Crew. And if that wasn’t sufficient, the match was the ultimate recreation at an important stadium in MLS historical past. It’s the form of story most followers can solely dream about.
Switch of the yr
MLS will be an adjustment for brand spanking new gamers at the very best of instances: they have to deal with cross-continental journey, blisteringly sizzling Texan summers, ice-cold Toronto winters, and every thing in between. However 2020 got here with a particular set of challenges, an unsure, ever shifting schedule, Covid-19 spreading like wildfire and the restrictions that got here with it. No person dealt with it in addition to Crew newcomer Lucas Zelarayan. The previous Tigres man transferred from Mexico for a membership file price of $7m, and instantly displayed the standard that made the Argentinian a menace for years in Liga MX, scoring six objectives in 16 appearances for the Crew. And the stats don’t inform all the story. Silky easy on the ball, with unimaginable imaginative and prescient and contact, he’s been the linchpin within the Crew’s offense. His two-goal efficiency within the MLS Cup remaining was an illustration of every thing the person has delivered to his crew.