It's the time of year for looking back and looking forward. Tomorrow, we'll look forward to 2012, but with 2011 coming to a close, let's hand out some awards for the year that was, mostly concerning Chivas USA of course, but with a few coming beyond the team. There was a committee of one on these, but if you disagree or want to put in your two cents, feel free in the comments section!
Twitter hashtag of the year: #fearthegoat
It started out slowly, but like all team-related hashtags, it soon crashed like waves over the fanbase until we all knew it and embraced it. I liked the fact that every time a rival fanbase heard it, they scoffed. When that happened ahead of the awesome 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls in May, the initial teasing over the slogan became an awesome memory as Chivas' fans knew they had witnessed a special result. Plus, I'm seriously glad there's no #CTID or #CUSATID ("Chivas USA 'Til I Die") among the fanbase. Several other clubs have that hashtag - after the first, it's not original. #fearthegoat is definitely original. Plus, Chivas are in a unique position as they are one of the only teams in the league with an animal in their name, so the ferocity of, er, goats, is really apparent (the New York Red Bulls are also animals, but the corporate tie-ins to their name cancel out the animal ferocity-angle). Above all, well done, everybody.
Honorable mention: #maximumwinning
I loved Seth Owusu's inadvertent catchphrase when he was interviewed after his signing. Unfortunately, he only played one match with Chivas, the Open Cup loss to the Portland Timbers in March, so the momentum kind of died. Still, a worthy effort.Twitter Personality of the Year: @JimmyConrad_com
His time on the field with Chivas was short, but the man is twitter gold. I believe he is a genuinely funny man, and the impromptu roast of him on twitter by teammates, media, and fans when he announced his retirement this summer was highly entertaining. I think the MLS community knew Jimmy could dish it out as well as take a few jokes, and he did it in spades. While athletes are under no obligation to use twitter a certain way, whether it is speaking with no filter as though they are not semi-famous in some circles (here's looking at you, certain veteran defender this offseason), sharing wholly uninteresting statements or reams of Bartlett's quotes, or using it as a media-savvy way to connect to media and fans in the most controlled way possible, these athletes are just the same as the rest of us. Conrad's the guy who transcends the normal stuff most of us tweet, and thank goodness for that.
Honorable mention: @laurentcourtois
It's why he's my favorite soccer player. He doesn't have the zing of Conrad, but he tweets in multiple languages on a variety of subjects, and he seems to be very diligent about responding to fans. A good example of balancing interests and connecting to fans on one platform.
Goal celebration of the season: Justin Braun's "Swimmer"
When Braun hit his first hat trick in 2011 against the Red Bulls in May, the indelible image came when he celebrated a goal by sliding on his belly and "swimming" along the grass. It was whimsical with a dash of creativity. Maybe he wasn't the first to do it, but it is the lasting image of perhaps Chivas' greatest night of the season.
Honorable mention: Victor Estupinan pointing to the Union Ultras after scoring his first career goal against the Seattle Sounders in the season finale. A nice acknowledgment for the support by the fans.
Best nickname that no longer makes any sense: "George Flowers"
This one should be pretty obvious. It can be entertaining to translate Spanish names into English, and the ex-Jorge Flores made for a good translation. Now that he's Jorge Villafana, it just doesn't sound the same. Plus, there's that whole "Sueño" name, so he's already got a sweet nickname.
The opposing player who left Chivas' players most afraid to get in his way: Brek Shea
The FC Dallas star ran all over defenses this season, so Chivas were not alone. But I remember a moment in Chivas' home match against Dallas in June when Shea sashayed through the midfield, and about three Chivas players considered going for a tackle for a split second before reconsidering and futilely chasing him down. I don't blame them for avoiding the tackle, as the guy was a force of nature on the field. He's not a Goat, but if you like soccer, and especially if you're a USMNT fan, he's a really exciting player. He will likely also be out of MLS in the next year or two as he moves to Europe, so Chivas won't have to lose sleep over him terrorizing them yet again.
Honorable mention: David Beckham
I haven't read his contract in awhile (that's a joke) but I think there was a clause in it that if he got hurt badly during the Galaxy's Season of Destiny (TM) the franchise responsible would fold. That and Paulo Nagamura couldn't get healthy enough to not give a crap and tackle Beckham whenever he wanted.
The "I Was Wrong" Award: Juan Pablo Angel
JPA proved me, and a lot of other people very wrong after he came to Chivas. He is old, he hadn't played well for the Galaxy, but he played like he was playing for his very life after joining Chivas. I thought a goal or two from him would be the best that we could expect, but seven in nine games was outstanding indeed. It's often hard to say you were wrong, but in this case, I was thrilled to be mistaken.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!