ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- United Soccer Leagues announced the USL First Division Defender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors for the 2006 season today at the USL First Division Championship banquet in Rochester, New York, honoring Gabriel Gervais, Cam Weaver, Mike Anhaeuser and Joey Gjertsen, respectively, with the league's top honors.
The USL First Division Championship, featuring the Vancouver Whitecaps visiting the Rochester Raging Rhinos, is Saturday, September 30 at 7:00 pm ET. The game will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Soccer Channel.
Defender of the Year - Gabriel Gervais (Montreal Impact)
Gabriel Gervais of the Montreal Impact became the first player to win the Defender of the Year honor three times, having previously received the award in 2003 and 2004. Former Rochester Rhino Scott Schweitzer is the only other player to have received the honor multiple times, winning it in 1998 and 1999.
The 30-year-old veteran, who is into his seventh season in the USL First Division and his fifth with the Impact, helped Montreal post the best defense in the league for a fourth straight year, as well as tie a club record by allowing, for a third consecutive season, only 15 goals in 28 regular season games. He started all 23 games he played in for a total of 1,988 minutes spent on the field.
Two weeks ago, he joined an exclusive group of nine other players as the 10th individual to earn All-League honors five times in the USL First Division having been selected to the First Team for a fifth consecutive season.
Rookie of the Year - Cam Weaver (Seattle Sounders)
Earning the Rookie of the Year honor, Cam Weaver finished the year tied with former 1994 Brazilian World Cup MVP Romario for the scoring and goal scoring titles on the year while leading the defending champions to within one point of the playoffs after having lost star forward Maykel Galindo to injury early in the year.
The Seattle University product, who narrowly made the cut for the final roster in preseason, finished with 18 goals and thee assists for 39 points. He was honored on the Team of the Week four times and was named Player of the Week twice during the season.
Coach of the Year - Mike Anhaeuser (Charleston Battery)
In 2005, Mike Anhaeuser took over a Charleston Battery side coming off a 7-15-6 season and after seeing a bit of improvement in his first year, helped guide the team back to the postseason for the first time this year since winning the championship in 2003. The Battery finished third in the league with a mark of 13-8-7 on the year and went on to narrowly fall in the semifinals to Rochester 1-0 on aggregate.
Anhaeuser has been with the Battery since 1994, winning a USL Second Division title as a player in 1996. He became an assistant coach with the club in 1999 and helped guide the team to the championship in 2003.
Most Valuable Player - Joey Gjertsen (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Joey Gjertsen opened the season with five goals in the team's first eight games and closed with seven in the last eight to finish third in the league in points (31) and fourth in goals (12), picking up seven assists along the way to finish tied for second in the league for one of the best all-around performances.
Gjertsen helped guide the Whitecaps to a fourth-place finish with a mark of 12-6-10 and onto the team's first appearance in the USL First Division Championship. The second-year forward scored at least one goal in eleven games and was one of only 19 players in the league to play in all 28 regular season games. He was named to the Team of the Week five times, earning Player of the Week honors twice during the season.
The 24-year old stepped up to guide the team after tallying just three goals and three assists last season in 27 games played, filling the shoes of 2005 USL-1 MVP Jason Jordan, who saw limited time this year.
It is the second time in league history two different players from the same club have won the honor in back-to-back years with Philip Gyau and Jean Harbor of the Maryland Bays winning the honors in 1990 and 1991 respectively. It is the third time it has gone to the same team in back-to-back years with Paulinho of the Los Angeles Salsa taking the 1993 and 1994 honors.
All postseason honors are voted on by the league's coaches and general managers prior to the start of the playoffs.