The Houston Dynamo announced their 2016 season club award winners today, with midfielder Alex Lima earning Most Valuable Player and Players’ Player of the Year honors. Local Houston media voted on four award categories while Dynamo players voted for the Players’ Player of the Year.
In the remaining categories, goalkeeper Joe Willis was voted Defensive Player of the Year, forward Mauro Manotas was named Young Player of the Year (age 23 and younger) and midfielder Andrew Wenger was tabbed Newcomer of the Year. All four players earned their first team awards with the Dynamo. In addition, midfielder Marcelo Palomino was selected as Dynamo Academy Player of the Year by the Academy coaching staff.
Alex enjoyed a career year in his second season with the Dynamo, setting MLS career highs with five goals, two assists, 29 starts, and 2,476 minutes while equaling an MLS career high with 30 appearances. The 27-year-old tied midfielder Ricardo Clark for the most starts on the team and played the full 90 minutes in 23 games. He scored in three consecutive games, capped by the game-winner in a 1-0 triumph at Real Salt Lake on September 17, delivering RSL’s first home loss of the season. The Brazilian added two more goals in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to finish with seven goals in all competitions, second-most on the team.
Willis began a career season by making his first Opening Day start and went on to reach personal highs with 26 appearances, 24 starts, five shutouts and 89 saves. The St. Louis native started the final 16 games of the season and posted a 1.25 goals-against average over that span. Willis, 28, also claimed road shutouts at Seattle on October 12 – matching a career high with seven saves – and at Real Salt Lake on September 17. He received MLS Save of the Week accolades twice, first for his save against Alberto Quintero in a 2-1 win at the San Jose Earthquakes on August 19 and then for a double save against Erik Friberg of the Seattle Sounders on October 12. The spectacular double save was nominated for MLS Save of the Year and advanced to the semifinals of the fan vote.
Manotas finished his first full season in Houston with a flourish, scoring six goals in the final eight games to finish tied with Wenger for the team lead. The 21-year-old added three more goals in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to lead the team with nine goals in all competitions while making only 13 starts this season. The Colombian was the youngest player in Dynamo history and in Major League Soccer this season to record a hat trick, scoring three goals against the Portland Timbers on September 24. He scored six goals in just 1,054 regular-season minutes, a rate of 0.51 goals per 90 minutes.
Wenger earned Newcomer of the Year honors after he was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Union last December. The midfielder won the club’s Golden Boot award after tying for the team lead with six regular-season goals and winning the tiebreaker with three assists. The Duke University product equaled a career high with 32 regular-season appearances and set a career high with 24 starts. The 25-year-old won MLS Player of the Week after recording a goal and two assists in a 5-0 win over FC Dallas on March 12. He scored in his Dynamo debut on March 6 vs. New England and scored the club’s final goal of the season in a 1-1 draw at the Colorado Rapids on October 23, clinching the scoring title. He was the only Houston player to appear in the each of the first 25 games of the season.
Palomino was named Dynamo Academy Player of the Year after a busy year that included several youth national team call ups. The 15-year-old played for the Dynamo Academy U-16 team this season and in August was selected for the U.S. Under-17 National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida. The attacking midfielder participated in several Under-15 National Team camps and was called in by the U.S. U-16 Boys’ National Team for the Val-de-Marne Tournament in France in October. Palomino also joined the Dynamo Academy U-16s for the Generation Adidas Cup Central Regional last month and will play for the U-18s at the Development Academy Winter Showcase beginning December 1 in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
2016 Houston Dynamo Award Winners
Most Valuable Player: Alex Lima
Players’ Player of the Year: Alex Lima
Defensive Player of the Year: Joe Willis
Young Player of the Year: Mauro Manotas
Newcomer of the Year: Andrew Wenger
Dynamo Academy Player of the Year: Marcelo Palomino
(All categories except for Players’ Player of the Year and Academy Player of the Year voted upon by Houston media)