United Soccer Leagues
United Soccer Leagues have announced the statistical awards for the 2009 USL First Division season, recognizing the leaders in the categories of scoring, goalscoring, assists, and goals-against average.
Goalscoring Champion – Charles Gbeke (Vancouver Whitecaps)
The 2008 USL-1 championship Most Valuable Player got off to a slow start, but finished with a bang, scoring his 12th of the year in the final game of the season to break a three-way tie for the league lead in goals scored. It is the first scoring honour for the striker, who is a seven-year veteran of USL-1. He reached the double-digit plateau for the second time in three years, having previously tallied 10 goals with Montreal Impact in 2007.
Assist Leaders – Ricardo Sanchez (Minnesota Thunder) & Wes Knight (Vancouver Whitecaps)
In an unusual pairing that was comprised of a player from a club that did not advance to the postseason and a rookie defender, Sanchez and Knight finished the year with eight assists. In his third season in USL-1, Sanchez previously tied for the team lead in goals last season with 10, finishing five back of the league leader. He eclipsed his assist total of seven over the past two years with his efforts in 2009. Fresh out of College of Charleston, Knight finished the season having played in all but one game of the Whitecaps campaign. He accumulated the third most minutes played on the team.
Scoring Champion – Mandjou Keita (Portland Timbers)
The Portland newcomer was one of the key contributors in the Timbers leading the league in scoring, having finished the year with 29 points after scoring 11 goals and recording seven assists. Behind Keita’s attack, the Timbers were able to shatter the league's all-time record for consecutive games unbeaten, breaking the mark of 16 and setting it at 24. His balanced style allowed him to finish just shy of the top spot in both goals and assists, finishing one short of a share of honours in both of those categories. Had he achieved this, Keita would have been the third player to receive recognition for all three categories. Jean Harbor (1991) and Peter Hattrup (1994) are the two lone players to have accomplished that feat.
Goals-Against Average (GAA) Champion – Dusty Hudock (Charleston Battery)
The two-time USL-1 Goalkeeper of the Year (1997, 2002) had another banner year for the Battery, finishing the regular season as the league leader in goals-against average at 0.279 (minimum 1,200 minutes played), having allowed only five goals during that time. The 14-year veteran was poised to challenge for personal bests and league records with an incredible start to the season that eventually gave way to a congested schedule following Charleston's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run, and ultimately ended with injury. Hudock also finished the year tied for first along with Puerto Rico Islanders goalkeeper Bill Gaudette for 12 shutouts and was fourth in wins with 10. He played the majority of his 18 games prior to suffering a midseason knee injury that eventually sidelined him for the year, as he elected for surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It is the third time that Hudock has won the equivalent of the award. Prior to 2007, the USL-1 Goalkeeper of the Year honour was automatically awarded to the keeper with the best goals-against average, with the exception occurring in 2001.