Yesterday, MLSsoccer.com announced that LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has been voted the 2011 MLS Coach of the Year. Seattle Sounder's head coach Sigi Schmid finished second in the voting, and Sporting Kansas City's Peter Vermes finished third.
The vote was made up of various media outlets, MLS management, and players based on each team's regular season performance.
Arena’s men had 17 shutouts in 34 games, tying the all-time record set by Kansas City in 2000, and allowed the fewest goals in the league (28). They had the best goal differential in MLS (+20), while also registering the third-best goals against average (0.82) in league history.
I can't say that I'm surprised about Arena winning the award. The Galaxy were simply the class of Major League Soccer in 2011, running away with the Supporters Shield (awarded to the MLS team with the best regular season record), and finishing the season with 67 total points. It's hard to make a case against Arena winning the vote.
However, I was slightly surprised that Vermes finished third out of the three finalists, as the Sporting KC head man found a way to take the team from last in the entire league to first place in the Eastern Conference to finish the regular season.
I suppose the devil's advocate argument to that theory is that neither Arena or Schmid ever allowed their teams to fall into dead last, as both Seattle and LA were widely considered the two teams to beat throughout the entire 2011 season. True, both of those teams are probably the two most talented teams in MLS, but talent alone does not always equal success (see the New York Red Bulls).
Still, there's something to be said for the job Vermes pulled off in 2011; drafting the MLS Rookie of the Year (CJ Sapong), developing a number of key players already on the roster(Graham Zusi, Chance Myers, Matt Besler), and making the right signings (Omar Bravo, Seth Sinovic, Julio Cesar, Aurelien Collin) to turn the club's fortunes around.