Even though we hate to admit it, the 2016 Republic season is over. The USL has even released their end-of-season awards for the year, and while Republic players did not receive any of the "X of the Year" type awards, both Danny Barrera and Cameron Iwasa received All-League honors.
However, in our opinion, no season is complete without us fans naming some award winners of our own. We at ICS have already named the Republic's Most Improved Player and Best Young Player. Today it is time for the big one: the Republic's 2016 MVP.
Evan Eyster (@IronPonyChef)
While I think it is easy to argue that Christian, Iwasa or Barrera could be the MVP, I have to give the award to James Kiffe this season.
Like most Republic fans, I had a moment of panic when Emrah Klimenta went down with a season ending injury and wondered if Kiffe would be able to fill the shoes of Klimenta. The Republic defenders have always been good at moving up the sideline and putting in crosses while still falling back to provide very solid defense as well. The fact that Kiffe was able to keep Sacramento functioning in the same way as they had all season, as opposed to having to adapt an entirely new playstyle midway through the year, helped keep them competitive down the streatch.
The five assists, the goal, all of those are secondary to Kiffe being able to keep the Republic functioning as they have the entire season. Kiffe stepped up to the challenge, and proved that he was the most valuable player for Sacramento this season.
George Shiel ( @GeorgeMShiel)
I'd have to give it to Chris Christian. He, along with James Kiffe have been the most consistent players on the team this season. He fits perfectly within Paul Buckle's system and has definitely earned the trust of his coach.
One of the reasons the Republic finished first in the Western Conference has been their ability to stop teams from scoring. Christian is the anchor of the defense and without him I don't think the Republic would have been as successful this season.
Josh Beeman ( @josh_beeman)
I would have to give the MVP award to James Kiffe, who played his best season in Old Glory Red this year.
Fullback has become an especially important position under Buckle. As the attack has more focused on wide play and crosses, the fullbacks have been called upon more often to help create chances or put their teammates in good attacking positions, something Kiffe does well.
Kiffe's 5 assists this season are a testament to both the quality of his service and how well he stepped up to the increased expectations, but it does not tell the whole story. He is also excellent when taking players on in one-on-one situations and holds his own in two-on-one situations quite well, something he displayed often this season. Kiffe also did well on the defensive side, helping the Republic to an excellent defensive record.
All in all, Kiffe was one of the best and most consistent players the Republic had this season, all while playing a position that was crucial for the team's success. That's MVP worthy to me.
Omar Gonzalez ( @omarvelously)
One of the hallmarks of a great team is the difficulty in selecting one specific player as the most essential piece of the puzzle. That said, my pick for the 2016 MVP is the Republic captain, Danny Barrera.
The Colombian often had to shoulder the responsibility of sparking his team's offensive creativity last season and he did it with a high degree of consistency, as his club-record level of assists demonstrates (which, were it not for poor finishing from his teammates, could have been a higher number).
His box-to-box abilities also afforded Buckle the option of fielding him in almost every midfield position, and his influence was seen throughout the field, whether it was assisting Cameron Iwasa to his breakout season, or putting in a hard tackle or tactical foul to break up an opponent's play during dangerous counters. The captain's armband is his deservedly and I believe the MVP title should be as well.
Now that you've read our thoughts, let us know who you think was the Republic 2016 MVP down in the comments below!