Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the easy choice in the Galaxy’s team awards. But when it came to ‘Defender of the Year,’ things got a lot more interesting
CARSON, Calif. — Zlatan Ibrahimovic and some of his teammates will have to make room in their travel bags before they head to Minnesota for the Galaxy’s 1st-Round playoff matchup. That’s after the Galaxy announced the winners of the 2019 Team Awards.
First and foremost, Zlatan Ibrahimovic walked away with the win for team Player of the Year after being voted into the award by members of the press (full disclosure, CoG had two votes in these awards).
This was the second consecutive win by Ibrahimovic, who also captured the 2018 version of this award as well as winning his second successive team Golden Boot (given to the player with the most goals at the end of the season).
Ibrahimovic set a single-season club goalscoring mark of 30 goals and averaged more than a goal a game during the 2019 season. He also added seven assists to a season that saw him play and start in 29 games and earn over 2,600 minutes. And during those 29 games, Ibrahimovic only failed to score nine times.
He also recorded eight multi-goal games — including two three-goal affairs — and finished the last 11 games for the club with 14 goals. In total, Ibrahimovic accounted for more than 50-percent of the club’s total goals on the season.
DEFENDER OF THE YEAR
While the Player of the Year award was clear, the Galaxy’s Defender of the Year award was much, much tighter. And perhaps some ambiguity can be forgiven when trying to determine the best defender on a team that finished tied for the fifth-worst goals-conceded in the league (59 goals).
Galaxy newcomer and Uruguayan, Diego Polenta, was voted into the award by members of the media after a season that saw some positional struggles at the beginning of the year. Polenta’s “rustiness,” a result of taking six months off from the game, caused many defensive issues in his first few starts with the club. But after those initial blunders were behind him, he was a solid defender who also had a penchant for getting forward.
Polenta would split time between left-back and center-back on the field and would find particular success in the Galaxy’s biggest win of the season — a 3-2 victory over visiting LAFC. A game in which the defender was credited with keeping MLS MVP nominee and league Golden Boot winner Carlos Vela in check for the entirety of the game.
Polenta would score one goal on the season but add six assists as well.
But Polenta had a bunch of company near the top of the award. While voting results are typically not released, CoG has learned that a group of other players narrowly missed out on the prize. That list includes midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, defender Dan Steres, and Goalkeeper David Bingham.
And it’s very likely that by using a ranked voting system (3 points for first place, 2 points for second place, and 1 point for third place), the ballots could have seen Polenta garner much of the second place voting while having other players split the first-place vote.
Either way, the award has found a home with Polenta, and that should boost his confidence headed into the post-season.
HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
The final team award went to Humanitarian of the Year Matt Lampson.
Lampson has been active in raising awareness for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma since 2013 when he started the LampStrong Foundation. Himself a survivor of the disease, Lampson went on to beat his illness at the age of 17 and sign a professional contract with the Columbus Crew in 2012.
While with the Galaxy this season, Lampson has hosted 32 children battling cancer at every game, home and away. He’s also added numerous others during training sessions at Dignity Health Sports Park.
And in addition to many, many visits to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to see and speak to cancer patients, the LampStrong Foundation will be donating $20,000 to CHLA oncology for adolescent and young adult patients.
Lampson, along with Ibrahimovic, were also nominated as finalist for the league-wide awards as well. With Lampson having the best chance at carrying home the MLS award.