Bruce Arena of the Los Angeles Galaxy was honored Monday as Major League Soccer coach of the year, edging Sigi Schmid of Sounders FC.
Also, the league announced that the Galaxy’s David Beckham won the comeback player of the year award. After missing most of the 2010 season because of a torn Achilles tendon, Beckham had 15 assists. DC United forward Charlie Davies, joining MLS after serious injuries in an October 2009 car crash, was second and Chicago Fire forward Dominic Oduro was third.
Arena led the Galaxy to a 19-5-10 record, best in MLS this season and second-best in league history. He will coach in his league-record fifth MLS Cup at 6 p.m. Sunday when Los Angeles meets Houston at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
He becomes the first three-time winner of the MLS coaching award, moving ahead of Schmid, who won in 1999 with Los Angeles and 2008 with Columbus.
Schmid led the Sounders to the second-best record in the league (18-7-9). He finished second in combined voting of clubs, media and players, ahead of Peter Vermes of Kansas City, Peter Nowak of Philadelphia and John Spencer of Portland.
Before the award was announced, Schmid had said he considered this one of his best coaching performances, especially in light of nearly season-long injuries to midfielder Steve Zakuani and forward O’Brian White.
“I’m happy with it,” he said. “But it’s more than just me. The assistant coaches I have here are tremendous. ... I’m still more of a hands-on coach than some guys, but you also step back a little bit more so (players) hear other voices a little bit more. So, it becomes a little more delegating duties at the right time. ... I’m happy I’ve been able to change with the times and adjust and so forth. So yeah, I’m happy with the job I did.”
Both of the top finishers have Puget Sound connections. Schmid just completed his third season with the Sounders. Arena ended his playing career in 1976 as a member of the Tacoma Tides of the American Soccer League and began his coaching career at the University of Puget Sound that same year. He also was married in Tacoma.
The Sounders have two more chances at postseason honors today. Kasey Keller is among the three finalists for MLS goalkeeper of the year, and midfielder Mauro Rosales is a finalist for newcomer of the year.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer