WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — Wilmington midfielder Luke Mulholland has been named the rookie of the year in the USL Pro Soccer League. The announcement was made at a luncheon in Orlando, Florida on Friday afternoon. Mulholland will soon be leaving Wilmington in order to play for the NASL Minnesota Stars soccer team. He’ll be playing for Minnesota as a loaner player only. Mulholland intends to finish out the season for Minnesota, but his plans are to return to Wilmington again next season.
Most Valuable Player — Yordany Alvarez, Orlando City
Coach of the Year — Adrian Heath, Orlando City
Rookie of the Year — Luke Mulholland, Wilmington
Defender of the Year — Rob Valentino, Orlando City
Goalkeeper of the Year — Miguel Gallardo, Orlando City
USL Pro News release: TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO honored its top performers of the season today, announcing the Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and Coach of the Year from the 2011 season. The winners were announced at an awards ceremony in Orlando, Florida, site of tomorrow’s USL PRO Championship Game featuring Orlando City and the Harrisburg City Islanders.
Voting for the awards was conducted by league coaches and managers.
Most Valuable Player – Yordany Alvarez, Orlando City
Not known for his scoring prowess and not a flashy player, Cuban-born Alvarez earned the respect of his peers and his opponents as Orlando City’s leader in the central midfield. Opponents needed to get through Alvarez first if they wanted to break down Orlando City’s defense, and it did not happen often as the Lions allowed the fewest goals against with only 16 in 24 games.
Rookie of the Year – Luke Mulholland, Wilmington Hammerheads
Also an MVP finalist, Mulholland turned in a remarkable first professional season, finishing tied for second in USL PRO in points (23) and tied for third in goals (9). The 2010 Wingate University graduate led the Hammerheads to the second best record in the league.
Coach of the Year – Adrian Heath, Orlando City
It would be hard to argue against Heath, the former Everton star who led Orlando City to the top of the standings early, where the squad remained for the entire season. Orlando City, which reached the USL PRO Championship game via 3-1 and 3-0 playoff wins, suffered only one loss at the Florida Citrus Bowl this season while also producing the top road record.
Defender of the Year – Rob Valentino, Orlando City
The leader of the league’s stingiest defensive corps, Valentino patrolled the back line for 20 games this season, dominating in the air and seeing more minutes than all other field players except Alvarez and Lawrence Olum. A four-year captain at the University of San Francisco, the former New England Revolution draft choice scored the winner in Orlando City’s 1-0 victory at Charlotte in April.
Goalkeeper of the Year – Miguel Gallardo, Orlando City
As the 2011 USL PRO leader in shutouts (11) and goals-against average (.681), Gallardo proved to be nearly impenetrable throughout the season for those who found their way through Orlando City’s formidable defense. The 2008 USL PDL Goalkeeper of the Year, Gallardo also finished tied for the league lead in wins with 12.
Orlando City will play host to the Harrisburg City Islanders Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET in the 2011 USL PRO Championship Game, live on FOX Soccer.