Sounders FC swept the two Major League Soccer awards handed out Tuesday as Kasey Keller was named goalkeeper of the year and midfielder Mauro Rosales the top newcomer.
“Mauro is a splendid addition to our team,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said in a press release. “His creativity, enthusiasm and quality added greatly to our team success in 2011.”
The newcomer award goes to a player in his first MLS season but who has professional experience and therefore is ineligible for rookie of the year.
Rosales, 30, joined the Sounders on March 18 after nearly 400 matches with Newell’s Old Boys and River Plate of Argentina and the Dutch club Ajax. He also has 10 caps and one goal with the Argentina national team.
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In his first MLS season, he led Seattle and finished third in MLS with 13 assists, including five game-winners, and was third on the club with five goals.
“I enjoyed a lot my first year here,” Rosales said last week. “(My new teammates) took me in like (I was) part of them for years already. I had a very good year meeting people – great people – and how we played this year was also very good.”
Keller’s latest honor was expected after his selection last week as MLS Best XI goalkeeper.
“It was a great year, and I’m proud that I was able to perform at the level in my final year that I hoped to achieve,” Keller said in a press release. “... I have never played the game for the awards, but it’s nice to be recognized by your peers.”
In his 20th professional season, Keller led all MLS goalkeepers with 18 wins while recording nine shutouts and a 1.09 goals-against average. He made a career-high 110 saves, most of any keeper on a playoff team.
However, the 41-year-old keeper from North Thurston High had announced before the season that this would be his last as a player and that he wanted to leave while still performing well.
“Kasey had a superb season. Finishing his career at such a high level is a reflection of his professionalism and high standards,” Schmid said. “The game will miss him, and we are proud that he was a Seattle Sounder.”
The MLS most valuable player award will be announced Friday. Finalists are Brad Davis of Houston, Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United and Brek Shea of Dallas.
The Sounders will open their CONCACAF quarterfinal series with Santos Laguna at 7 p.m. March 7 at CenturyLink Field. The home-and-road, aggregate-score series will resolve at 5 p.m. March 14 in Mexico. ... Sounders FC has sent a mailing to season-ticket holders confirming that the Hawks Nest seating section at the north end of CenturyLink Field will be opened next season. Over the Sounders first three MLS seasons, that wedge-shaped section had been covered with tarp used for advertising. General manager Adrian Hanauer earlier said the club was considering the change, which will increase the MLS regular-season configuration capacity to about 38,500.
MLS AWARDS VOTING
Voting calculated as combined percentages of voting by media, players and club officials:
GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR
Kasey KellerSeattle Sounders FC73.97
Faryd MondragonPhiladelphia Union49.75
Kevin HartmanFC Dallas 31.67
Nick RimandoReal Salt Lake 30.43
Dan KennedyChivas USA 19.04
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Mauro RosalesSeattle Sounders FC85.15
Luke RodgersNew York Red Bulls34.63
Eric HassliVancouver Whitecaps31.45
Faryd MondragonPhiladelphia Union26.25
Omar BravoSporting Kansas City22.02