Sounders' O'Brien voted A-League MVP
Special to The Seattle Times
The postseason wasn't kind to the Sounders as a team. But individually, the postseason has offered rewards for strong play during the regular season.
Midfielder Leighton O'Brien was announced as the A-League most valuable player yesterday by the United Soccer Leagues. League coaches vote for the award.
O'Brien's honor comes on the heels of first-year coach Brian Schmetzer's selection as league coach of the year after the Sounders finished 23-4-1 in league and 24-7-1 overall. The Sounders had the second-best record in A-League history, but they lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second round of the playoffs.
O'Brien, 26, was Seattle's field general, tying for the league lead with 11 assists.
"I guess my consistency and my value to the Sounders were the main factors as to why I got this award," said O'Brien, son of former Sounder and Tacoma Star Fran O'Brien. "I thought I was in the running, but usually a lot of forwards get these awards. You know, the glory guys.
"I'm only as good as the players around me. I'm not a guy who's going to beat anybody one-on-one."
O'Brien, who graduated from Federal Way High School in 1994, also had 13 goals to finish with 37 points, good for third in the league scoring race. Teammate Brian Ching tallied 40 points, second to Portland's McKinley Tennyson (42).
"(O'Brien) won the award because he's a fierce competitor," Schmetzer said. "He doesn't like to lose, and it shows in his play."
Ching, O'Brien and teammate Andrew Gregor were named to the A-League first team. Goalkeeper Preston Burpo made the second team.
O'Brien, a fourth-year professional, will leave Monday to play with the Milwaukee Wave of the Major Indoor Soccer League, on loan from the Sounders.
It will be O'Brien's second season playing indoor soccer as a pro. He played with the Sacramento Knights of the now-defunct World Indoor Soccer League in 2001-02.
• Peter Hattrup was the Sounders' most recent A-League MVP, in 1995. Former Sounder Roger Davies was the now-defunct North American Soccer League's MVP in 1980.
• Sounders Select Women's coach Dick McCormick said the W-League franchise could fold unless it receives an influx of sponsorship money.