Lyle Thompson's MVP Case and More MLL Awards Projections

PHOTO BY JEROME MIRON/PRETTY INSTANT


For the first time in Major League Lacrosse history, the league is giving fans a say in the selection of its regular season awards. Fans can vote for their favorite players and coaches for six of the regular season awards as many times as they wish through Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. EST. The fan voting will be combined with voting from the league’s coaches and general managers.

With every individual eligible to vote, here is my take on which individuals will take home the hardware.







Coca-Cola Most Valuable Player
Lyle Thompson (Chesapeake)

Finalists: Shayne Jackson (Atlanta), Randy Staats (Atlanta), Bryan Cole (Atlanta), Mark Cockerton (Boston), Lyle Thompson (Chesapeake), Sean Sconone (Dallas), Craig Chick (Dallas), Zach Currier (Denver), John Grant Jr. (Denver), Rob Pannell (New York)

Why Thompson: For all the opportunities fresh faces have enjoyed, the 2019 MLL season has been the Lyle Thompson show, with everyone excited for his first full season in the league, uninterrupted by box commitments. Through Week 14, he leads the league in goals (44) and points (67). He has provided some of the most jaw-dropping plays for the league highlight reel. He was a captain for the MLL All-Star Game, and he helped his team clinch a spot in the playoffs. If statistics aren’t enough, maybe fellow MVP candidate John Grant Jr. could convince you. After the Bayhawks-Outlaws game July 4, Grant called Thompson “unguardable” and said, “If he’s not the best player in the world, he’s definitely in the top three.”

Warrior Offensive Player of the Year
Randy Staats (Atlanta)

Finalists: Shayne Jackson (Atlanta), Tommy Palasek (Atlanta), Randy Staats (Atlanta), Bryan Cole (Atlanta), Mark Cockerton (Boston), Lyle Thompson (Chesapeake), Steele Stanwick (Chesapeake), Chris Aslanian (Denver), Zach Currier (Denver), Rob Pannell (New York)

Why Staats: It is slightly unconventional. Typically, when an offensive player wins the MVP award, he also wins the Offensive Player of the Year award. Staats, however, has been every bit as dazzling with the stick as Thompson has. He’s one of the best feeders in the game, and Atlanta has the best offense in the league. The attention Staats draws creates a lot of open space for Jackson, Palasek, Cole and Brendan Sunday to operate in, and the offense doesn’t run as smoothly without him.

Warrior Defensive Player of the Year
Liam Byrnes (Atlanta)

Finalists: Liam Byrnes (Atlanta), Justin Pugal (Boston), Ryland Rees (Boston), Jesse Bernhardt (Chesapeake), Greg Danseglio (Chesapeake), Craig Chick (Dallas), Jake Pulver (Dallas), Finn Sullivan (Denver), Ben Randall (New York), Alex Spring (New York)

Why Byrnes: Each of these defenders has had weeks where he stood out, but Byrnes consistently checks all the boxes. Through Week 14, he leads all players in caused turnovers (25), is tied for third in interceptions (4, second-most among defenders), and is third among long poles in ground balls (53). He is the leader of a very young and inexperienced group of defenders in Atlanta and is also is heavily involved in Atlanta’s transition game.

Brine Goalie of the Year
Sean Sconone (Dallas)

Finalists: Chris Madalon (Atlanta), Nick Marrocco (Boston), Niko Amato (Chesapeake), Sean Sconone (Dallas), Dillon Ward (Denver), Austin Kaut (New York)

Why Sconone: Among the starting goaltenders, Sconone leads in save percentage (54.58 percent) and goals against average (11.90). He also was a big reason the Rattlers went from seven-game losing-streak bottom feeders to six-game winning streak playoff hopefuls.

Tito’s Coach of the Year
Tony Seaman (Denver)

Finalists: Liam Banks (Atlanta), Sean Quirk (Boston), Dave Cottle (Chesapeake), Bill Warder (Dallas), Tony Seaman (Denver), B.J. O’Hara (New York)

Why Quirk: After winning the 2018 MLL championship, the Outlaws lost their top four scorers, top defensive midfielder, starting long-stick midfielder and starting goalie. Per usual, the Outlaws carried on like business as usual and advanced to the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years. Seaman has gotten the most out of his players and helped them get through a rough four-game losing streak during the middle of the season to get back to the top of the standings after Week 14.

Cascade Rookie of the Year
Zach Goodrich (Boston)

Finalists: Alex Woodall (Atlanta), Ryland Rees (Boston), Zach Goodrich (Boston), Andrew Kew (Chesapeake), Warren Jeffrey (Chesapeake), Bradley Voigt (Dallas), Sean Sconone (Dallas), Craig Chick (Dallas), Chris Aslanian (Denver)

Why Goodrich: It’s time to give the short-stick midfielders some love. Opposing teams do not want to challenge Goodrich because he just doesn’t get beat. He can play two ways if needed, but he’s been a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball.

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