HOU_072118_Elis_Manotas
Trask Smith

Four Houston Dynamo players nominated for year-end MLS awards

Major League Soccer on Monday released the ballots featuring the candidates eligible for each of the league's year-end awards, including the Landon Donovan MVP. Four Dynamo players were nominated for awards, as well as Wilmer Cabrera for Coach of the Year.

FULL BALLOTS

Players, media and technical staff will vote for each category, with each group representing a third of the vote. Those same voters will also submit their votes for the annual Best XI, open to any player who appeared in a 2018 MLS regular season match.

Voting kicks off on October 15 and award finalists will be announced on October 31.

Dynamo forwards Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis have been nominated for the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS MVP award. Manotas had a record-breaking year in his first season as a full-time starter. The 23-year-old Colombian has tallied 16 regular season goals for the Dynamo, breaking Cubo Torres' previous club record of 14 set last year, and tallied his first assist of the season last weekend against LAFC. His goalscoring tally is tied for fourth-most in MLS.

Elis built off his breakout 2017 campaign by becoming one of the league's most feared attackers. With 11 goals and nine assists, he is the second player in club history to reach 20 combined goals and assists in a season (Brad Davis reached the milestone in 2011 with four goals, 16 assists and again in 2012 with eight goals, 12 assists). A threat every time he steps on the field, the 22-year-old has compiled the third-highest xG+xA total (expected goals plus expected assists) in MLS this season according to American Soccer Analysis.

Captain DaMarcus Beasley is among the nominees for Defender of the Year. Beasley has been the most constant presence on the Dynamo backline in a year filled with injuries, playing 2060 minutes in 24 starts this season. The 36-year-old has been as active as ever, making 54 tackles with 23 interceptions while still keeping possession with an 86.81% pass completion rate. Beasley also has two assists on the year, and scored his first goal since May 2016 last week against Seattle Sounders FC.

Joe Willis is nominated for two awards, Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year and MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year. On the field, Willis has kept the Dynamo in games with his saves. According to American Soccer Analysis' metrics, Willis has the third lowest GA-xGA (goals against minus expected goals against) in MLS, allowing six fewer goals than would be expected based on the shots he's faced. He also is tied for the league lead with two penalty saves on the year, not including his performance in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal penalty shootout.

Off the field, Willis has has been a huge part of the Dynamo's Special Olympics Unified team for three years, taking part in all team signing days and leading team tryouts. He knows every athlete’s name and makes a special point to speak to them before each of their games. The goalkeeper has also played a major role in distributing equipment to area schools through the Every Save Makes A Difference Program with Allstate and Univision Deportes.