We've reached the halfway point of the Major League Soccer regular season, and the league remains as unpredictable as ever.
One MLS Cup finalist from the last season, the Columbus Crew, is a point out of last place in the Eastern Conference. The Reigning MLS Cup winners, the Portland Timbers, currently occupy the sixth and final playoff spot in the west. The Seattle Sounders, who have never missed the playoffs in their eight-year MLS existence, are currently nine points below the red line.
At the other end of the respective conference tables, New York City FC and the Colorado Rapids are at or near the top of the standings. As such, there have been a number of stellar individual performances so far.
With that in mind, here are ESPN FC's MLS Midseason Awards.
Most Valuable Player: David Villa, New York City FC
Scoring has never really been NYCFC's problem during its brief history. Preventing goals has, and the team's newfound defensive resilience is a big reason it now owns the third-highest points total in the league. But there is no looking past Villa's league-leading 13 goals and what they have meant to a side that took some time to find its way this season.
Given his performances on the field, and his willingness to engage off it, Villa is the prototypical Designated Player.
Bargain of the Year: Micheal Azira, Colorado Rapids
Once Azira was waived by Seattle, any other team in MLS could have picked him up for nothing. Colorado was first to jump in and sign the Ugandan in the waiver draft, and the Rapids are glad they did. Azira has provided much-needed steel in midfield alongside Sam Cronin, and his overall play has been so stellar that manager Pablo Mastroeni has had the luxury of slotting Jermaine Jones into an attacking midfield role. It amounts to a slick bit of business by Rapids G.M. Paul Bravo.
Coach of the Year: Jim Curtin, Philadelphia Union
Without question, Curtin has some stiff competition from the likes of NYCFC's Patrick Vieira and Colorado's Mastroeni. But those last two names have benefited from rosters stocked with a DP -- or three.
Curtin, with considerable help from general manager Earnie Stewart, has fashioned a side made up of younger, more-modest components and has also had to cope with the absence of Maurice Edu and the departure of Vincent Nogueira. But Curtin has helped engineer an impressive turnaround; as a result, he has the Union poised to make the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Goal of the Year: Quincy Amarikwa, San Jose vs. Portland
There are so many deserving candidates, but Amarikwa's tally against the Timbers back on March 13 has been the best of the lot so far.
Amarikwa had absolutely zero support when he broke into Portland's half and seemed to have run himself into a blind alley a few seconds later. But his sublime chip from 33 yards found the upper right-hand corner of Adam Kwarasey's net, making for a spectacular goal.
Defender of the Year: Axel Sjoberg, Colorado Rapids
Yes, Sjoberg isn't the fleetest of foot, but his aerial dominance, well-timed tackles and underrated passing have seen him anchor the stingiest defense in the league. And while manager Mastroeni has been forced to chop and change his back line at times, Sjoberg has been the one constant.
Not bad for a player in just his second professional season.
Assist of the Year: Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire
It's not often that flair is met with equal amounts of execution and end product, but that is exactly what happened when Castillo's "Rabona" found teammate Maximiliano Urruti, allowing the Argentine to head home FCD's first goal in a 3-1 win over Chicago last weekend.
If Castillo continues to deliver those kinds of passes, Dallas will be hoisting some silverware by season's end.
Goalkeeper of the Year: David Bingham, San Jose Earthquakes
Other keepers might have better numbers (Philly's Andre Blake comes to mind), but Bingham ranks right up there in both save percentage (74 percent) and average goals allowed per game (1.05). And no one dominates their box quite like Bingham does.
It was this trait that in many ways allowed San Jose to beat Toronto FC while playing with nine men. Bingham has already gotten a few looks with the national team, and based on his form this season, that looks set to continue.
Newcomer of the Year: Ola Kamara, Columbus Crew
The Crew have had plenty of issues to deal with this season, including the blow-up involving Kei Kamara that resulted in the forward being shipped to the New England Revolution. But the league's other Kamara, Ola, has done more than his share to carry the attacking load.
His nine goals in 13 league games comes out to 0.86 goals per 90 minutes, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the highest in the league among players with at least two goals.
Rookie of the Year: Keegan Rosenberry, Philadelphia Union
The perception is that the Rookie of the Year award goes to the first year player with the most goals. But defenders have taken home ROTY eight times in 20 seasons, so there is hope for the Union's Rosenberry. The Philadelphia right-back certainly has the credentials, as his lockdown defending and ability to get forward has done plenty to aid the Union's turnaround season.
Hard Luck Player of the Year: Zac MacMath, Colorado Rapids
Ever since MacMath was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, there hasn't been much doubt about his ability, but he has been troubled by consistency issues for much of his MLS career.
So of course, in a year that has seen MacMath put it all together -- his 0.69 GAA is best in the league among keepers with more than 10 starts -- Colorado goes out and acquires Tim Howard. MacMath will likely be confined to the bench for the remainder of the season, but he ought to be able to help another team in years to come.