SBI 2011 MLS Defender of the Year: Omar Gonzalez

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There were plenty of standout defenders in MLS this year, and several who could make cases for being the top defender in the league, but it is tough to argue that there was a better defender in 2011 than Omar Gonzalez.

The LA Galaxy centerback was the leader and foundation for the best defense in MLS, improving his game in every facet and going from being an All-Star caliber defender to a dominant force who was key to LA winning the Supporters Shield and reaching the MLS Cup Final. For that, Gonzalez was SBI's choice for 2011 MLS Defender of the Year.

Gonzalez was the unanimous selection for the award, finishing first on all seven SBI ballots. A total of seven different defenders made their way onto ballots, though there were four who were ahead of the pack.

Here is how the rest of the field for SBI MLS Defender of the Year shook out:

FC Dallas centerback George John finished second in the SBI voting, with his outstanding play in the first half of the season keying Dallas' strong form. 

Real Salt Lake's Nat Borchers finished third in the voting, with his leadership, ability to read the game and score on set pieces giving him the edge over teammate Jamison Olave, who finished fourth in the voting. Columbus Crew centerback Chad Marshall finished just behind Olave in the voting.

What do you think of Gonzalez being selected as SBI MLS Defender of the Year? Who would have gotten your vote?

Share your thoughts below.

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56 Responses to SBI 2011 MLS Defender of the Year: Omar Gonzalez

  1. Berlin says:

    I’m fine with this. Now explain why he hasn’t gotten a more than a passing glance by the Nats.

  2. downintexas says:

    Would love to have seen John win this. But Omar is more than deserving. Congrats to Gonzalez What a great 3 seasons, maybe once Klinnsman gets fired next year for failing to win a game Bruce Arena will call him in.

  3. downintexas says:

    Its because Klinsman underrates MLS and over rates the Mexican league.

  4. gfk says:


  5. away goals says:

    There are plenty of explanations. You might not agree with them, but they exist.

  6. hogatroge says:

    Omar’s been consistent all year. John was in a funk for the last 1/3 of the season after his European transfer fell through.

    I’m sure Omar will be called into the January camp. If LD is turning down the Nats right now, you can bet Gonzo would too.

  7. away goals says:

    Who is Porfirio Lobo Sosa?

    Let’s stay with Central American presidents for $800, Alex.

  8. Matt says:

    I don’t think Gonzalez deserves to be LA Galaxy Defender of the Year. Todd Dunivant had a better year than he did.

    I think that Olave in a class by himself at center back in this league. I would have voted for him.

    (SBI-Dunivant had a great year, best fullback in the league in my opinion, but he did NOT have a better year than Gonzalez. Don’t think there’s a player on the Galaxy, including Dunivant, who would agree with you there.)

  9. downintexas says:

    I have no problem with Omar getting it.

    Normally I would agree with you about Omar, John getting a call in Jan. But I think USMNT won’t win the next two games and therefore Klinsman will bring in the same old crew and will not give others a shot. Unless they are playing in germany

  10. Just sayin says:

    Personally, I’d love to see Gonzales become more comfortable on the ball, improve his distribution & become more agile when he’ll be marking fast/international caliber forwards.

    I think his progression has been steady but I question whether or not he’s ready for the big stage yet.

    I have similar reservations regarding Ream, too, minus the distribution.

  11. Just sayin says:

    Fair point.

  12. facts says:

    Am I one of the few that realizes this post says “SBI 2011 Defender of the year?” It seems like some people think he is officially the “MLS defender of the year.”

  13. Opinions regarding facts says:

    I think for most, SBI is our one stop shop of soccer website/blogging for MLS.

    You’re seeing opinions regarding SBI’s choice. I don’t think people are under the false assumption this is the leagues choice.

  14. Khan says:

    Gonzalez wasn’t even the best defender on his team (Dunivant), let alone the league.

    Olave (clearly the best)
    John (even with the slump)

    That’s just off the top of my head.

  15. Ryan says:

    No votes for Valdes? He really helped shore up Phillys back line.

  16. davidaubudavid says:

    Aj Delagarza? Gonzales wouldn’t be much without him.

  17. DC Josh says:

    No love for Perry Kitchen? He played completely out of position all year at fullback and central defense and helped DC ALMOST make the playoffs.

  18. DC Josh says:

    As much as I love seeing AJ represent Southern Maryland, it’s the other way around.

  19. strider says:

    I think your DC bias is showing. While Kitchen surely had a good season, especially for a rookie and for which he was selected to the Rookie Best XI, he is not yet the player that Gonzalez or Olave or John are. Hopefully in 2-3 years he could be Defender of the Year, but he has some experience to gain and skills to develop yet.

  20. RK says:

    Not to mention how awful the DC defense was…

  21. boosted335 says:

    you sure thats where that list came from…it sure doesnt smell like the top of your head

  22. boosted335 says:

    Congrats to Omar, well deserved. SBI got the voting right with Omar #1 and John#2..with Borchers being a VERY close #3.

  23. bottlcaps says:

    Yeah, one day Klinsmann will take off his Euro-goggles and will see one of the the answers to his defensive line is right under his nose.

  24. Rainstreet says:

    bottlcaps…i disagree. Look how well our past MLS defenders did under BB, Bruce, etc. They may be good defenders but they are not good enough…yet. I think Klinsmann will give them a chance someday. Right now, if these players are not good enough to go across the pond, they are not good enough to play with the national team. I do not get why he is looking to the Mexican league but I think they will be weeded out as well.

    Just my thoughts.

  25. Dune Man says:

    He seems to be highly rated since playing in MLS. Has some great experience with the Nats and in big friendlies, etc.

    Should he stay in LA where he gets consistent playing time for more growth…or…if his real goal is to play for the US with the new coach it seems like he should try to get in with a team in Mexico or Europe to get a real look.

    Coach K might not think he is ready for USMNT now, but he must be in the pool. So, it would seem like Coach K could help get him some looks even from a German 2 team or maybe in one of the other leagues to see how he improves. I would rather he stay in LA, but if getting defender of the year nods…while being on one of the best teams…etc is not enough to get onto the USMNT bench….then maybe it is time he proves himself in another league??

  26. Rick says:

    Cap him!

  27. SydneySounder says:

    Completely agree. Although seeing him “earn” that penalty against RSL knocked him down a few pegs in my mind. I know its a one off thing but its still fresh in my mind (I’m in Australia and they broadcast it delayed here)

  28. abc says:

    Then how do you explain Robbie Freaking Rogers, Kyle Beckerman, and Jeff Larenawitz getting called in to camp as if they are actually international caliber soccer players?

  29. abc says:

    Next year Geoff Cameron has a good shot at defender of the year, if he spends the entire season at CB. He has more potential there than both Gonzalez and John, and I say that as a fan of both players.

  30. facts says:

    “Would love to have seen John win this. But Omar is more than deserving. Congrats to Gonzalez What a great 3 seasons, maybe once Klinnsman gets fired next year for failing to win a game Bruce Arena will call him in.”

  31. petke says:

    Kitchen is very good at letting guys jump over him for headers inside the 6.

  32. facts says:

    It’s official now. Omar is the MLS defender of the year! Congratulations Omar you deserve it.

  33. downintexas says:

    Wow three guys out of a 30 man camp?

    I don’t agree with either three guys but Klinsmann has his boys

  34. downintexas says:

    Hey Facts

    I’m perfectly aware this is a SBI award and not a MLS award. Don’t quote me and put words in my mouth

    Also, Omar did win the MLS D award.

  35. limey says:

    Big congratulations to Omar, he is a great guy who gives 100% everytime he pulls on that Galaxy shirt. Improvement came this year in the form of becoming a goalscoring threat. I think he can improve more but i hope he doesn’t get too good and he moves overseas.

  36. blargh says:


  37. karlitros says:

    Gonzalez is good, earned this accolade, and deserves a shot with USMNT, but did anyone see him out of position multiple times and getting smoked by fast forwards in NY (game 2) and RSL playoff games. Not convinced he really has it at the next level – just another defender that is big, pretty good, but too slow and prone to game costing errors.

    Geoff Cameron on the other hand is the future for central defense for USMNT and is superior to Gonzalez.

  38. ViperLAG says:

    Explain how Tim Ream gets the nod then?

  39. limey says:

    The grapes are sour in Australia.

  40. Maz says:

    there are no explanations for Tim Ream in 2011…He was great in 2010, but way out of form this year.

  41. Stiggs says:

    No, MLS is a much different league than 5 years ago

  42. mils says:

    Way to go, Omar!!!

  43. Ned says:

    Dunivant brings no offense and is equal to Gonzalaz in terms of distribution. With his experience, he should be better with the ball.

  44. Rice says:

    most underrated player in the league for 2 years now.

  45. Sam says:

    Cameron has potential, but he was schooled in the All-Star game. Much better at going forward than in defense.

  46. Magee says:

    John faded badly at the end of the year. FCD was not prepared for all those games.

  47. Rick says:

    Valdez was great all year, but he imploded in the playoffs

  48. SydneySounder says:

    I just get annoyed when a big guy like him sprawls out because Andy Williams lightly brushed his back

  49. TommyOC says:

    Omar goes up for headers all the time and gets hit all the time. One thing he doesnt do is flop easily. Any big guy can be pushed easily to the ground when his feet arent on it.

  50. PL says:

    Omar better get ready for Ching and Costly, they are a handful.

  51. Rainstreet says:

    Agreed but still not good enough to have a steady flow of defenders for the national team.

  52. Dinho says:


  53. karlitros says:

    He did get beat on the play with Berbatov, other than that he did well in the back during the all-star game, which I believe the commentators noted.

    Further, his performance in the all-star game was pretty good considering the fact he hadn’t played in the back for a year and a half.

    If you think he is better going forward than in the back, this makes me think you haven’t watched him play very much since he returned to center back about two months ago – Dynamo are undefeated during that stretch I believe.

  54. Walt says:

    disagree…Defending and Goalkeeping are American strengths