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.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks, 1-0, in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).