Cannon named top MLS keeper, Bocanegra top defenderPosted: Tuesday October 15, 2002 1:53 PM
ATLANTA (CNNSI.com) -- Major League Soccer on Tuesday announced that the San Jose Earthquakes' Joe Cannon has been named the 2002 Goalkeeper of the Year and the Chicago Fire's Carlos Bocanegra has been selected as the Defender of the Year.
Cannon claimed the honor after putting together another strong season that included a league-leading eight shutouts in 26 games for the Quakes. A finalist for the award last season, Cannon helped the Earthquakes to the second-best record in the league and a second consecutive playoff appearance.
The Santa Clara University product and his league-best 13 victories led the 2001 MLS Cup champions to the top of the standings for 22 straight weeks during the 2002 season. Only a late-season run by the Los Angeles Galaxy kept the Quakes from claiming the best regular-season record and taking the Supporter's Shield.
Cannon turned in the league's second best goals-against-average (1.10) in 2002, nearly equaling his career best of 1.09, set last season. Cannon, a four-year MLS veteran, posted 100 saves on the campaign, securing his second consecutive All-Star selection along the way.
Competing in his fourth MLS season, the 27-year old put together seven wins in 10 games through June and July, including six clean sheets. Cannon and his leadership abilities were put to the test in the absence of defender Jeff Agoos and forward Landon Donovan during the FIFA World Cup in Korea. Injuries to starting defender Troy Dayak and Agoos made Cannon the anchor of a young defensive unit deployed by San Jose coach Frank Yallop.
Other finalists for the honor, sponsored by Aquafina, included Tim Howard of the MetroStars and Nick Rimando of D.C. United. Cannon was selected the winner in voting done by MLS coaches, general managers, players and members of the Professional Soccer Reporters Association.
Bocanegra youngest to claim award
At just 23 years and five months old, Bocanegra becomes the youngest player ever selected to receive the defensive award, beating the mark set by Eddie Pope in 1997.
"Carlos has quickly matured into one of the top young stars in MLS," said Fire coach Bob Bradley. "He had a tremendous season and the ADT Defender of the Year award is an indication of how much respect he has gained in and around MLS. He will continue to improve."
The Fire youngster anchored the defensive line for a club that was decimated by injuries and the absence of its U.S. national team stars for the World Cup.
In just his third season, Bocanegra was a mainstay on a defense that surrendered only 38 goals all season (third fewest allowed in MLS) and compiled the league's best goals-against-average on the road (1.36). The Fire recorded seven shutouts on the season (tied for second best). Despite their injury battles, Bocanegra and Chicago advanced to the MLS playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, keeping a streak alive that began with the team's inception in 1998.
The native of Alta Loma, Calif., played in central defense and at left back, starting all but two regular-season games. Only six other Fire players had more than 20 starts during the 2002 campaign.
Bocanegra also continued to establish himself as an offensive threat, pushing forward to register a pair of goals, three assists and a career-high seven points on the year. His first goal of the season came in spectacular fashion as he knocked home a stunning overtime golden goal on a driving header against the Columbus Crew on June 2 in a 5-4 overtime victory for Chicago.
In the absence of such stars as Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley, Peter Nowak, Hristo Stoitchkov, Evan Whitfield and Josh Wolff, the former Project-40 standout showed leadership, earning his first ever All-Star selection. Bocanegra joins Pope as just the second player younger than 30 to win the award.
Bocanegra, the league's 2000 Rookie of the Year, continues to display the skill, toughness and guile that are expected to make him a part of future U.S. National Teams. He has already earned six caps with Bruce Arena's team, including five starts in 2002.
MLS coaches, general managers, players and members of the Professional Soccer Reporters Association vote for the Defender of the Year Award, for which goalkeepers are ineligible. Also nominated for the award were San Jose's Wade Barrett and Alexi Lalas of the Los Angeles Galaxy.