Local soccer genius Bruce McGuire put out a call yesterday for votes for Minnesota United season awards - pre-playoffs but post-season. I cast my votes, but I thought I’d expand on them here.

Most Valuable Player: The easy pick here, of course, would be Emanuel Reynoso. He is the team’s best player, certainly; when he’s really on, he might be the best player in the whole league.

That said, I still remember the Loons teams that conceded 70+ goals two years running. The (sadly) now-departed Ike Opara won MLS Defensive Player of the Year merely for stabilizing that ship, but since concussions drove him out of the league, it’s been down to Michael Boxall and Bakaye Dibassy to step in at center back. Which is not to discount the performances of Roman Métanire and Chase Gasper at fullback, either, nor of Brent Kallman, who started 13 games at center back. They helped give the Loons what was, again, one of the stingiest defenses in the league.

I could have picked any of the back four - back five? - but Dibassy seemed like the steadiest this year.

Attacker of the Year: Reynoso.

Midfielder of the Year: Ozzie Alonso. This probably isn’t fair to Wil Trapp, who led the team in minutes played and was a steady force all season in the center of the field. Alonso made just 15 starts, but I’ll give you a stat: in those 15 games, the team gave up 15 goals. In the 19 he didn’t start, they allowed 29.

Defender of the Year: Dibassy.

Newcomer of the Year: Franco Fragapane. This was an easy call. The Argentinan scored five goals and set up nine more, and was up there with Reynoso in terms of creating offense. The team did not start to roll until Fragapane arrived to play the left wing. We speak of Kevin Molino’s 2020 season in hushed tones, and after Molino departed, there were no good options on the left. The Loons tried Hassani Dotson there (and learned he’s not a winger), they tried Reynoso there (and let’s be honest, he was never going to actually play as a wide forward), they even tried Ethan Finlay there (and he worked his socks off, God bless him, but he’s not as good on the left as he is on the right). That the team is in the playoffs is due as much to Fragapane’s quick acclimation to MLS as to anything else.

Young Player of the Year: Joseph Rosales. Assuming that this is only under-22 players, which is generally the league cutoff for Young, the Loons - who simply do not play young players - are down to exactly two choices. Rosales played 122 minutes, more than Patrick Weah’s 22 minutes, and impressed in limited time.

Comeback Player of the Year: Tyler Miller. After missing much of 2020 with an injury and losing his starting spot to begin the season, Miller came back after four season-opening losses to steady the goalkeeping ship. He was solid, if not spectacular, and tied the team record for clean sheets with 11 in 30 games. According to FBRef.com, Miller ended the year in seventh place among MLS goalkeepers, saving four goals more than expected.