Turf and Boards was proud to present the third annual Boards Awards in recognition of excellence in the Major Arena Soccer League. The 2019-20 Boards Awards include Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and, finally, Most Valuable Player. Rather than picking one definitive winner in each category, our esteemed panel of Craig Elsten, Art Kramer, Nathan Dunn, and Turf and Boards publisher Sydney Nusinov each weighed in with their own choices for each award, and then we asked you to make your picks in our fan polls. 

The picks are all in and while there were many inconsistencies in both the league voting and our panel’s picks, the spirited debate kept us talking about the sidelined MASL a little longer.

The MASL voting electorate was composed of players, coaches, and staff and from the percentages supplied by the league we can infer that there were 210 total votes (183 players, 14 coaches, and 13 staff voters). While that would indicate that only about half the players in the league voted, that is actually an impressive response given the cat-herding nature of coordinating something like this. And with 210 votes you would think you would get an even sampling and a meaningful result.

But there were inconsistencies. Utica City, whose season was marred by visa issues and ended with three straight losses after cruising through one of the easier schedules, led everyone with five All-MASL selections, while the dominant Monterrey Flash landed only one player on the honor roll.

Vini Dantas, who was third in the MASL in scoring, could only find a spot in the MASL’s Honorable Mention along with William Vanzela, who led the league in wins and minutes played and was third in GAA, playing on the league’s smallest home field.

Berna Valdovinos made the Honorable Mention list despite a high 5.79 GAA (his teammate Diego Reynoso was 6-0 with a 3.28 GAA with both goalies mostly playing 30 minutes in the same games when they were both healthy) and only nine complete games, but an impressive 14-2 record. Despite being 10th in GAA and not finding a place on the three All-MASL teams he was a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year.

All-MASL Third Team forward Leo Gibson was a finalist for MVP despite his low showing in the all-league voting.

Then you had Rafa Dias, who was second in the league in GAA by 0.01, not being placed among the top six goalies in the league’s All-MASL or Honorable Mention.

A minor pet peeve of mine is the MASL’s Honorable Mention list. The three all-league teams followed a strict format of one goalkeeper, two defenders, and three offensive players (sometimes the forwards and midfielders got flipped around), but then the Honorable Mention was an amorphous group of 15 players. Like the original Gilligan’s Island theme song, “Gilligan, the Skipper, too, the Millionaire and his wife, the movie star…and the rest,” the MASL’s Honorable Mention is “and the rest.”

But then I thought about it a different way. It has been years since the indoor leagues have had a regular All-Star Game, so if you take the 18 All-MASL players and the 15 Honorable Mention players and split them into two teams, you have your de facto All-Star teams for the 2019-20 season. So as I told one player, “You’re not merely worthy of mention, you’re an All-Star!”

As for our panel, we were only unanimous on Clay Roberts as Coach of the Year and Hugo Silva for Goalkeeper of the Year. but our Fan Poll and the MASL voters, respectively, prevented a totally unanimous vote. I was the black sheep on the Rookie of the Year vote and Craig Elsten was the spoiler on the MVP vote. Defender of the Year was the most divisive with five different selections between the panel, fans, and league.

Rookie of the Year

Sydney NusinovEduardo Cortes
Art KramerDuduca Carvalho
Craig ElstenDuduca Carvalho
Nathan DunnDuduca Carvalho
Fan PollDuduca Carvalho
MASLDuduca Carvalho

Coach of the Year

Sydney NusinovClay Roberts
Art KramerClay Roberts
Craig ElstenClay Roberts
Nathan DunnClay Roberts
Fan PollPat Healey
MASLClay Roberts

Defender of the Year

Sydney NusinovElton De Oliveira
Art KramerUzi Tayou
Craig ElstenDrew Ruggles
Nathan DunnRobert Palmer
Fan PollChad Vandegriffe
MASLDrew Ruggles

Goalkeeper of the Year

Sydney NusinovHugo Silva
Art KramerHugo Silva
Craig ElstenHugo Silva
Nathan DunnHugo Silva
Fan PollRafael Dias
MASLChris Toth

Most Valuable Player

Sydney NusinovFranck Tayou
Art KramerFranck Tayou
Craig ElstenDrew Ruggles
Nathan DunnFranck Tayou
Fan PollIan Bennett
MASLFranck Tayou