On Tuesday, fan voting opened for three end of year NASL awards. Among the nominees were Atlanta Silverbacks Paul Black and Jaime Chavez, each looking to claim the Golden Ball, the league's equivalent of an MVP trophy. Head Coach Gary Smith is also in the running for Coach of the Year. Fans can vote for the Golden Ball and Coach of the Year on the NASL website (as well as the Young Player of the Year award) until October 27.
Defender Paul Black started all 26 games that he has played in, missing only one of Atlanta's league matches so far due to an injury. In those games, he assisted on two goals and was pivotal in earning 5 shutouts. He has been named to the NASL team of the week four times, an impressive feat for the 25 year old Englishman.
Forward Jamie Chavez has scored 7 times and assisted for 7 more in 25 games or a rate of .79 goals and assists per 90 minutes, which is the seventh best rate in the league for players that have played at least 10 games. The California native also received Team of the Week honors twice during the 2015 campaign.
Gary Smith, who joined the Silverbacks over the off-season, immediately faced an uphill battle with only 4 returning players and dealing with constraints of managing a league-owned club. After finishing at the bottom of the Spring table, Smith's vision and mid-season additions (goalscorers Junior Burgos and Pedro Mendes, as well as experienced defender Kosuke Kimura) saw the Silverbacks make a dramatic turn around in the Fall as they are improbably contending for a final playoff spot.
At the end of the year, supporters will also have the opportunity to pick a Goal of the Year (obviously, all the goals must be scored first). This may be the Silverbacks best chance of picking up some hardware as Burgos, Chavez, and Pedro have all received Play of the Week honors.
The awards, in addition to Best XI, Golden Glove, Golden Boot, Humanitarian of the Year, and the Fair Play Award, will be presented to the winners at halftime of The Championship Final (after being recognized at a pre-game press conference).