To my understanding, it is not common practice to release the results of awards voting mid-stream (I notice that the Academy Awards have yet to adopt that practice), but I received an email that does exactly that. The crack (or is it 'on crack') communications department informs me that the results to date are as follows:
1. Melissa Tancredi 26.6%
2. Christine Sinclair 20.2%
3. Kara Lang 16.0%
4. Rhian Wilkinson 12.8%
5. Diana Matheson 8.5%
6. Erin McLeod 7.4%
1. Dwayne De Rosario 23.5%
2. Tomasz Radzinski 22.1%
3. Julian de Guzman 20.6%
4. Ali Gerba 17.6%
5. Rob Friend 4.4%
6. Michael Klukowski 2.9%
First of all, I can't say much about the women's voting. I'm sure Tancredi deserves the lead, and the fact that she is not one of the "high profile" players (I am referring here to Sinclair and Lang) likely means that she is in first on merit.
As to the men's voting, I am shocked. I suppose it's not just the Association that makes bad choices!
Here's what the voters have done well: of the 9 short-listed candidates, the bottom 3 that don't make this list (Stalteri, Hutchinson, and Serioux) don't really belong in the conversation (though I could imagine that a case could be made for Hutch and Serioux).
The problem: the player ranked #1 doesn't deserve to be in the discussion either. In my brief analysis of each of the candidates, I wrote off Dwayne ("Dwayne De Rosario has been excellent in the past and won at least one of the awards last year. But both his NT and club play with Houston Dynamo have declined since 2007. He won't get my vote."), and of the 40 or so Voyageurs who have stated their choice for their own award, only 2 have included Dwayne in their top 3. This latter group includes most diehard Canadian fans and includes nearly all of the well-informed followers of the game in this country.
My question: who are these CSA "fan" voters, and what kinds of fans are they? Are they MLS johnny-come-latelys who voted for the only name they recognized? Are they fans who only tuned into the St. Vincent match at Saputo and none of the others? This is beyond any semblance of reason.
Here's Dwayne's year in a nutshell: in 9 matches for Canada, he had 3 goals (against Martinique and 2 against St. VAG), got himself suspended in WCQ, and provided no offensive spark whatsoever in the group stage. For Houston, he scored 7 goals and added 2 assists in 24 matches. Solid, but far from spectacular, especially considering his previous seasons.
The fact that he has been in the news lately certainly doesn't hurt his profile, and if this Fan's Choice Award is indeed "based on popularity" and not performance, as stated in the original presser, then I guess whichever player is currently the highest profile Canadian on TFC is likely to win.
I know there are bright Canadian soccer fans out there, not just myopic Toronto fans new to the game (or at least Canadian players of the game). The gang at some canadian guys writing about soccer (two Gerbas and a de Guzman), Duane at 24th minute (Friend), and the Footie Fool (Radzinski) all make entirely defensible choices.
If you voted for Dwayne, or can defend choosing him ahead of the likes of de Guzman, Radzinski, Gerba, Friend, or even Klukowski, for his body of work in 2008, then be my guest. I wait with baited breath for my comments section to be flooded.
To the 60.3% of you who voted for Gerba, Radzinski, and de Guzman, well done. Those are my top 3. To the nearly 24% of fans who voted for TFC's newest lovechild, you have some 'splainin to do!