Vote: The700Level's Philadelphia Union 2011 Regular Season Awards

Vote: The700Level's Philadelphia Union 2011 Regular Season Awards

The Philadelphia Union will begin their first ever playoff series against the Houston Dynamo this weekend, with game 1 in Chester on Sunday. Before the playoffs make or break what should be considered a fantastic run no matter what, we thought we would take the pulse of Union fans on what were the best and brightest moments and players on the pitch this regular season.

MVP
OK we're not going to vote for an actual Most Valuable Player, because it's Sebastien Le Toux, hands down. But who would be the Union's Second Most Valuable Player?

Who is the Union's Second MVP?
Brian Carroll, Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes

Who is the Union's Second MVP?

Top Newcomer
This goes to the Union player who wasn't with the club last year. This being the MLS, there were quite a few to choose from. We're not going to list them all, but here are a few.

Who was the Union's Top Newcomer?
Freddy Adu, Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Faryd Mondragon, Veljko Paunovic, Zac MacMath, Carlos Valdes
Who was the Union's Top Newcomer?

Best of the Backline
The Union back line went from inaugural year weakness to second year strength. The defense conceded 13 fewer goals this season, despite playing four more games.

Who was the Union's best defender?
Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams
Who was the Union's best defender?

Most Improved
Which Union player showed the most improvement during the 2011 campaign compared to 2010?

Who was the most improved member of the Union?
Danny Califf, Amobi Okugo, Kyle Nakazawa, Roger Torres, Sheanon Williams
Who was the most improved member of the Union?

Sub of the Year
The MLS season runs for 34 games over eight long months. A successful team must have quality depth and the ability to shift tactics and players on the fly. The quality of the players coming off of the substitutes bench goes a long way towards determining a team's success. These Union players were the key contributors off the bench.

Who was the best off the bench?
Danny Mwanga, Roger Torres, Kyle Nakazawa, Jack McInerney, Freddy Adu
Who was the best off the bench?

Most Disappointing
With the team improving from 8-15-7 to 11-8-15, a 17-point swing over four more games, it feels a little counterproductive to seek out the players who could or should have been better along the way. But, here are a few we expected more from.

Whose performance was most disappointing?
Juan Diego Gonzalez, Justin Mapp, Danny Mwanga, Carlos Ruiz
Whose performance was most disappointing?

Most Likely to Make the Jump Next Year
Take one look at the Union roster and you can see they place an emphasis on identifying and acquiring youth. The roster is littered with talented young players who have gained significant experience this season. These are the players we feel are most likely to make the leap and break out next season.

Which Union player is most likely to be an MLS star next year?
Michael Farfan, Gabriel Farfan, Jack McInerney, Danny Mwanga, Zach Pfeffer, Roger Torres, Sheanon Williams **(We had to reset the poll below due to two players being left off that were intended to be on. The votes on this poll have been restet as well; please feel free to cast yours again if you have already.)***
Which Union player is most likely to be an MLS star next year?

So that's our completely scientific poll of the field of Union players deserving of consideration for 2011 regular season awards. In the comments, please feel free to let us know who you voted for, why, and whether we omitted anyone deserving in any category. It wasn't easy to fit so many players into these subjective categories, so there's bound to be a few.

Compiled by Rev and Matt P.

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

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No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.

Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

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Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

ARLINGLTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish looked playoff-ready with a season-high 12 strikeouts in six innings as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Friday night and clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The Rangers can be tied by only the Cleveland Indians and they own the tie-breaker by winning the teams' season series. The AL owns home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to its win in the All-Star Game.

Darvish (7-5) allowed one run, three hits and one walk. His 28th career game of double-digit strikeouts is the second-most in a pitcher's first 100 major league starts, topped only by Dwight Gooden (31). Darvish will likely start Game 2 of the Division Series following Cole Hamels.

Shin-Soo Choo returned to Texas' lineup after missing 39 games with a fractured left forearm. Choo pulled a single to right in his first plate appearance since Aug. 15 and went 1 for 4.

Matt Andriese (8-8) gave up three runs and seven hits, including solo home runs to Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor (see full story). 

Cabrera hits 2 HRs, Tigers move up in playoff race, beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton also connected and the Detroit Tigers moved up in the playoff race, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Friday night.

The Tigers won their third straight and pulled within a half-game of Toronto for the second AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays lost at Boston 5-3.

The regular season is scheduled to end Sunday, but the Tigers might need to play beyond that. They were rained out against Cleveland this week and would have to make up that game if it impacts their playoff chances.

Daniel Norris (4-2) gave up one run, five hits, two walks and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves, playing their final series at Turner Field before moving north to the suburbs next year, had won 10 of 11. Matt Wisler (7-13) was chased in the fifth when James McCann's RBI single made it 5-0 (see full story).

Trumbo hits 47th, Schoop 5 RBIs as Orioles top Yankees 8-1
NEW YORK -- Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 47th home run, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones also went deep in a six-run fifth inning and the Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 8-1 in steady rain Friday night to maintain their AL wild-card lead.

Baltimore began the night tied with Toronto for the AL's two wild cards at 87-72, with Detroit 1 1/2 games back and Seattle trailing the Tigers by a half-game.

Trumbo and Jones homered off Michael Pineda (6-12), who started with 3 2/3 hitless innings and suddenly became ineffective.

Schoop tied his career high with five RBIs, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the fourth and adding a three-run homer in the fifth against James Pazos -- Baltimore's big league-high 250th home run this season.

Yovani Gallardo (6-8) won for just the second time in nine starts since Aug. 5, allowing two hits, three walks and Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly in six innings (see full story). 

Ortiz delivers another HR, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-3
BOSTON -- Opening his final weekend with yet another game-winning homer, David Ortiz lined a two-run shot into the right-field stands to break a seventh-inning tie and help the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.

The AL East champion Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed one game ahead of Cleveland in the race for home-field advantage for the playoffs.

The Blue Jays fell one game behind Baltimore in the wild-card race and are now within range of Detroit and Seattle in the fight for the AL's final postseason berth (see full story).