DL - Team MVP History Story

History Lesson: Recapping every team MVP through the Revs’ first 20 seasons

NOTE: This feature was originally posted last October, prior to the announcement of the Revolution’s 2015 Santander Team MVP. It has since been updated to include last year’s honoree, Scott Caldwell.

A massive crowd is expected to gather at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon for the New England Revolution’s regular-season finale against the Montreal Impact (4 p.m. ET, CSN), and prior to kickoff, the 2016 Santander Team MVP will be presented in front of the Foxborough faithful.

Through the Revolution’s first 20 seasons there have been 12 different MVPs, while six players have been honored multiple times. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to recap the accomplishments of each of New England’s previous Most Valuable Player award winners.

Joe-Max Moore (1996, 1998, 1999)

There’s a certain tier of stars who require just one name.

Pele. Maradona. Ronaldo. Messi.

Madonna. Prince. Bono.

Joe-Max.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, sure, but there’s no question Joe-Max Moore earned himself one-name status amongst Revolution supporters as he won three of the club’s first four MVP awards. To this day he’s one of just two players to win three times, along with the club’s all-time leading scorer, Taylor Twellman.

Quite incredibly Moore ran away with the Revolution’s first-ever MVP award in 1996 despite arriving midseason and appearing in just 14 games. His 11 goals in those 14 games couldn’t help the Revs reach the postseason, but they were just the beginning of Moore’s contributions in New England.

He went on to win the award again in 1998 with seven goals and a team-best 15 assists in just 21 appearances, then made it back-to-back MVP honors with a 15-goal, eight-assist showing in 1999.

Moore finished his Revolution career with 41 goals and 35 assists in 96 appearances, while he added another goal in a pair of postseason appearances.

Walter Zenga (1997)

One of the most enigmatic – and unsurprisingly, one of the most beloved – figures in Revolution history was an eccentric Italian goalkeeper named Walter Zenga.

Nicknamed “Spiderman” because of his ability to corral everything within reach – and often wearing his own custom Spiderman hat in-game – Zenga is best remembered in Revolution circles as the club’s player-manager during the 1999 campaign.

But the former Italy National Team goalkeeper was just a player during his first stint with the Revs in 1997, earning MVP honors with a 15-7-0 record and six shutouts in 22 appearances.

Wolde Harris (2000)

Jamaican forward Wolde Harris was a consistent performer during a nine-year MLS career with three different clubs, registering 51 goals and 31 assists in 194 appearances.

But his best single-season performance, by far, was in 2000 during his first year with the Revolution. Harris notched a career-high 15 goals and added seven assists (just one shy of his career-high eight from the previous year in Colorado), earning him MVP honors in Foxborough.

Harris’ most memorable moment in a Revolution jersey, ironically, was a goal that wasn’t a goal. Early in a 2003 game against the Rapids, he connected on a bicycle kick that would’ve gone down as one of the greatest goals in league history, if only it had been correctly ruled as a goal.

There was some consolation for Harris, though – he scored another brilliant goal, one which actually counted, just a few minutes later.

Andy Williams (2001)

Andy Williams only spent one full season in New England – acquired prior to the 2001 campaign before being dealt to the MetroStars in May 2002 – but he made the most of his brief time in Foxborough.

Williams was a bright spot in a frustrating year for the Revolution, as they went 7-14-6 and missed out on the postseason. The Jamaican midfielder registered three goals and seven assists in 20 regular-season appearances, while he also played a key role in the Revolution’s run to the U.S. Open Cup title match.

The highlight of Williams’ MVP season likely came in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal, when Williams scored both goals in a 2-0 win over D.C. United to send the Revs to their first cup championship match.

Taylor Twellman (2002, 2003, 2007)

It should come as no surprise that the player widely regarded as the best in Revolution history racked up three MVP awards during just seven full seasons with the club.

Twellman burst onto the scene as a “rookie” in 2002 – he was drafted second overall in the SuperDraft, but had previously played professionally in Germany – scoring an incredible 23 goals and adding six assists to earn the league’s scoring title. Unsurprisingly, that also earned him Revolution MVP honors.

There was no sophomore slump as he bagged another 15 goals and four assists in just 22 appearances the following season, making it back-to-back club MVP titles in his first two seasons. He won the award again in 2007 with a 16-goal, three-assist showing as the Revs advanced to a third straight MLS Cup.

Twellman’s 2007 campaign also included four goals in the U.S. Open Cup – including one in the final – as the Revolution lifted their first-ever cup championship with a 3-2 win over FC Dallas.

Although his career was cut short by a head injury suffered in August 2008, Twellman started in four MLS Cup title games – scoring a pair of goals – and registered 10 career playoff goals in 21 appearances.

His 101 regular-season goals are, far and away, the most in Revolution history.

Steve Ralston (2004, 2008)

It’s fitting that Steve Ralston’s name pops up on this list directly after Taylor Twellman, because according to Twellman himself, he wouldn’t be the player he became without Ralston feeding him the ball.

Ralston was one of the most consistent players in Revolution – and MLS – history, racking up a career-best 19 assists during his first year in New England (2002) and never looking back.

He garnered his first Revolution MVP award in 2004, when he registered seven goals and eight assists while playing every minute of the 30-game season. Ralston became one of only six players to win the award multiple times in 2008, notching eight goals and seven assists in just 21 appearances.

Ralston is far and away the Revolution’s all-time assist leader – his 73 helpers are followed by Joe-Max Moore’s and Chris Tierney’s 35 assists, less than half Ralston’s total – while he remains in the top five in club history in games played, games started and minutes played.

Oh, he’s also second all-time in Revolution history in goals scored (42), behind that Twellman guy.

Shalrie Joseph (2005, 2009)

Perhaps no player was more influential when he was on the field than Shalrie Joseph.

Joseph, drafted just 12 spots after Taylor Twellman in 2002, spent 11 years with New England and currently stands as the club’s all-time leader in games played (261), games started (254) and minutes played (22,867). He wore the captain’s armband from 2010 to 2012.

Joseph’s first team MVP campaign was in 2005, a year in which Twellman was actually named MLS MVP. While the powerful midfielder didn’t have the statistics that normally win MVP awards – a solid six goals and five assists from a defensive midfield position – he was the glue which held New England together during a remarkable season in which they went 17-7-8 to finish atop the East.

A steady presence in the Revolution’s midfield throughout their run to three straight MLS Cup finals, Joseph didn’t win another team MVP award until 2009. That year he showed remarkable versatility by deputizing as a forward, notching eight goals and eight assists to lead the Revolution in scoring.

Although he didn’t win the league MVP award in 2009, he was a finalist – unprecedented recognition for a player who primarily plied his trade in the trenches of midfield.

Matt Reis (2006, 2011)

We all dream of a team of Matt Reis.

One of the most consistent goalkeepers in MLS history, Reis ended his career after the 2013 season just shy of Joseph on the Revolution’s all-time charts for games played, games started and minutes played.

Reis first garnered MVP honors in 2006 when he played every minute of the season in goal for the Revolution, registering 10 shutouts to match the club record he’d set the previous season, and which he’d match again the following season. He added a shutout in the 2006 Eastern Conference Championship.

The 2011 campaign was much more forgettable – a monumentally frustrating five-win season – but Reis again was recognized as the Revolution’s MVP after making 111 saves and recording five shutouts.

It’s no surprise that Reis owns every goalkeeping record in Revolution history, and will for years to come.

Marko Perovic (2010)

Much like Andy Williams in 2001, Marko Perovic made the most of his only full season with the Revolution during a difficult 2010 campaign for the club.

Arriving in the preseason from FC Basel, Perovic was a dynamic attacking player and a free-kick specialist, notching six goals and three assists in 25 regular-season appearances. He added a pair of goals in the group stage of SuperLiga as the Revs advanced to the competition’s championship match.

Perovic suffered a devastating knee injury in April of 2011, and although he never played another minute for the club – despite a preseason trial prior to the 2014 season – he remains a beloved figure.

Lee Nguyen (2012, 2014)

One of three players on the Revolution’s current roster to have won the club’s MVP award – along with Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell – Lee Nguyen could be in the running for a third time this season.

The energetic midfielder arrived to little fanfare just prior to the 2012 season, claimed off waivers after the Vancouver Whitecaps let him go in early March. It proved to be a massive coup as Nguyen instantly became a regular in the Revolution lineup, finishing the season with five goals and two assists.

It wasn’t until 2014, however, that the moniker “MVLee” was bestowed upon Nguyen as he embarked on one of the best single-season performances by a midfielder in league history. Nguyen scored a remarkable 18 goals from midfield and tacked on five assists, not only winning his second team MVP award, but also earning recognition as one of three finalists for league MVP.

Nguyen is currently atop the Revolution’s 2016 scoring chart with six goals and nine assists, and will be hoping to join Moore and Twellman as the only three-time winners.

Diego Fagundez (2013)

Diego Fagundez has been a fan favorite since the moment he stepped onto the field as the Revolution’s first-ever Homegrown player back in 2011. On his debut – as a 16-year-old substitute – he drew a penalty kick and scored a goal to instantly carve his name into club lore.

After he racked up four goals and three assists in his first 26 career appearances through 2012, no one could’ve expected what was to come in 2013. Fagundez defied logic as an 18-year-old wunderkind, scoring 13 goals and adding seven assists to run away with the Revolution’s MVP honors.

Although he hasn’t quite hit those heights – statistically speaking – the past three seasons, his five goals and five assists in the current campaign have him in the discussion for additional honors.

Scott Caldwell (2015)

The second Homegrown player to win the award in a three-year span, Scott Caldwell broke the mold as the Revolution’s Santander Team MVP in 2015.

Historically MVP awards have been reserved primarily for goal scorers, or, in rare cases, goalkeepers. But Caldwell is neither, registering just two goals and five assists last season.

Caldwell was, instead, the fulcrum of New England’s midfield setup. Occupying the spaces in front of the backline and behind the more attack-minded midfielders, Caldwell was tasked with cutting out passing lanes, slowing the opposition’s attack and keeping possession moving for the Revolution.

Caldwell did just that while leading the Revs in minutes played (2,882), appearances (34) and starts (32).