Monthly Award Winners July

The editorial team, several league personnel, announcers, and the clubs themselves voted on the top performers across the league during July, declaring a Team, Coach, Goalkeeper, and Player of the Month.

The voting process entailed performances taken strictly from MLS NEXT Pro league matches from July 1 - July 30.

Player of the Month: John Denis

Denis scored six goals during the month of July, extending his lead across MLS NEXT Pro as the top scorer with 13 goals this season. The 24-year-old striker has been brilliant for the Eastern Conference side, helping them to a second-place standing through 20 weeks of the campaign. He spoke with MLSNEXTPro recently below.

The highlight of Denis’s month came when he scored FOUR goals in one match, downing New England Revolution II 4-0.

Head coach Matt Pilkington had high praise for his striker being awarded Player of the Month.

“I think it’s thoroughly deserved. He’s had a great season so far, he’s a really humble, hardworking young man. He takes pride in his craft and especially in the finishing aspect of his game, he’s always working on it. He cares about it a lot. It’s a testament to all the time, sacrifice and work he’s put into it over the course of the year and I know there are more goals to come,” Pilkington said.

Added Denis, “I’m very grateful and blessed. I want to thank my teammates for putting me in positions to execute, and to the Club for giving me the opportunity to play. It shows all of our hard work, thankfully we were able to get some results last month and we continue to work and hope to progress in the League. It shows that hard work pays off. Putting your head down and being humble and always looking forward to accomplishing different objectives. It means a lot, truly a lot, and I’m super grateful.”

Other nominees: 

  • Gibran Rayo | RNY FC
  • Marlon Vargas | Tacoma Defiance
  • Shanyder Borgelin | Inter Miami II
  • Yaya Toure | Rapids 2
Team of the Month: Tacoma Defiance

Tacoma Defiance are arguably the hottest team in MLS NEXT Pro at the moment, riding a four-game win streak while being on top of the overall league standings. They won all four matches they played during July, while inserting two attackers into the Golden Boot race.

July saw them outscore their opponents 17-7, while keeping one clean sheet. Their highest margin of victory was four goals, in a 5-1 statement victory over St Louis CITY2.

They top the latest MLS NEXT Pro power rankings due to their stellar form.

Vice President of Player Development Henry Brauner was thrilled to hear of Defiance’s winning of the award. 

“We are humbled and honored that Tacoma Defiance has been named MLS NEXT Pro Team of the Month for July,” Brauner said. “It is truly humbling knowing that this award was voted on by our peers, as we know that all clubs in MLS NEXT Pro work tirelessly to train and develop the best talent for the future of the game. We as an organization are incredibly proud that the work put into Defiance by the players, coaches, trainers and everyone in between has been noticed by not just our club, but by the league as a whole. We thank our ownership, front office and First Team for supporting and believing in our project and we thank the players for putting their trust in us to oversee their development as people and players.”

Other nominees:

  • Houston Dynamo 2
  • Inter Miami II
  • Toronto FC II
  • Earthquakes II
Coach of the Month: Wade Webber

Tacoma Defiance head coach Wade Webber led his side to an undefeated month during July, with the Defiance going 4-0 and winning every match – including one clean sheet.

Webber has the Defiance atop the Western Conference with 40 points and atop the overall standings across MLS NEXT Pro.

“I am flattered to be named Coach of the Month in MLSNextPro for July because there were many deserving coaches. It’s always nice to hear that people think you are doing your job well,” Webber said. “I’ve always found awards like this in a sport that is so collective in nature to be a little odd.  We celebrate the collective with Defiance. I suppose I am the public face of the team, but I am certainly not also the heart, lungs and other parts that make the group function. The staff and players that I have the privilege to work with every day are exceptional and work so hard that everyone is challenged to maintain the pace, but I am thankful for the acknowledgment that we are doing a good job.”

Other nominees:

  • Gianni Cimini | Toronto FC II
  • Jamison Olave | Real Monarchs
  • Darren Powell | Inter Miami II
  • Kenny Bundy | Houston Dynamo 2
Goalkeeper of the Month: Luka Gavran

TFC II have been one of the biggest surprises this campaign and are riding a seven-match unbeaten streak in both June and July combined. Gianni Cimini’s side have not lost a match since May, and a big part of that has been the stellar goalkeeping of Luka Gavran. The 22-year-old kept two clean sheets during July, while making ten total saves in five matches.

Gavran’s July has seen him come up big in penalty kicks from the spot twice, making four saves between the two matches.

Gavran was thrilled to hear of his performances being recognized, but looked to it being a celebration of the team’s current run of form.

“Thank you to the league for this month’s award and I’m extremely happy to see the team’s progression this season, as well as mine, be awarded,” Gavran said. “Without them, our run of great results wouldn’t be possible so this award is really for the team as well.”

Other nominees:

  • Andre Thomas | Tacoma Defiance
  • Caique | RNY FC
  • Emmanuel Ochoa | Earthquakes II
  • Alex Rando | NYCFC II