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Hassli finishes third in MLS Newcomer of the Year balloting

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Eric Hassli: 3rd in the voting
There weren’t a lot of surprises when two Seattle Sounders won the year-end awards handed out Tuesday by Major League Soccer.

Kasey Keller, the American great who has now hung up his cleats, was named the Goalkeeper of the Year — and this is as much a lifetime achievement award as it is a nod to the keeper’s 2011 campaign.

And Mauro Rosales, Seattle’s playmaker, won the Newcomer of the Year Award, which goes to the top first-year MLS player who doesn’t officially qualify as a rookie — as in, the player had some previous non-MLS pro experience.

Rosales played at Ajax and in Argentina, and was a heavy favourite to win the award; his absence through injury was felt as Seattle was eliminated by Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinal. Rosales had five goals and 13 assists this season and was the engine of Seattle’s offence.

For fans of the Canadian teams, though, there were some notables.

Vancouver’s Eric Hassli, who is likely to win the Goal of the Year for his stunning volley against Seattle, and who scored 10 times this year, finished third in voting, behind Rosales and New York Red Bull Luke Rodgers.

While there was no way anyone was going to haul in Rosales, you have to wonder, had Hassli not had such massive disciplinary problems this year, if he would have nipped Rodgers for second place. Hassli had eight yellows and three reds this season, and you have to wonder how much that — and the fact he spent the last few games of the season as a bit part of the Whitecaps lineup — hurt him.

And, remember, coaches and players have a large say in the voting process; media votes only count for a portion of the total.

Now that the votes have been counted, I can say that my second-place ballot went to Hassli (Rosales got the top vote).

No Toronto FC player made the top five. You could have made a case for Joao Plata; but he showed some inconsistency earlier in the year and didn’t put up gaudy numbers (three goals, five assists).

And, as mentioned in a previous column (HERE), Designated Player Danny Koevermans wasn’t on the ballot. He had eight goals in 10 games after signing with the Reds, a more impressive strike rate than any of the candidates.

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