Sounders Insider

LA's Gonzalez is MLS rookie of year

Not much anticipation about this one, considering no Sounder -- that is, Steve Zakuani -- among the finalists.

However, here's the release from MLS:

Major League Soccer today announced that LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez captured the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year award. Gonzalez started and played all 30 of the Galaxy’s regular season games and helped the club improve its defense from statistically the worst in 2008 to one of the best during the 2009 season.

The 21-year old defender from Dallas, Texas, becomes the second consecutive Galaxy defender to win the award. Teammate Sean Franklin received the honor in 2008. Gonzalez received the most votes in polling of media, MLS players and MLS coaches and general managers. All first-year players in MLS without previous professional experience were considered for the Rookie of the Year award.

Gonzalez, selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Maryland, impressed coaches enough during the preseason that they thrust him into the starting role at the center of the backline with veteran Gregg Berhalter. The former NCAA All-American was one of only 14 players in the League to play in all 30 regular season games and ranked second among rookies with 2,672 minutes played, behind only Darrius Barnes (2,700 minutes) of the New England Revolution.

The 6-foot, 5-inch, 210-pound, defender was an imposing force on the backline for the Galaxy this season. His size and range were key factors in the most dramatic defensive turnaround in League history, as the Galaxy allowed only 31 goals in 2009 compared to 62 goals allowed the previous season. Gonzalez also scored one goal and added one assist in his rookie season.

Gonzalez has represented the United States at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels. In 2005, he played at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Peru. He appeared in two games at the tournament as the U.S. team was eliminated in the Quarterfinals by the Netherlands. In 2007 he played for the U.S. Under-20’s at the Pan-American Games. Gonzalez and the Galaxy are in action on Friday when they host the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference Championship at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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