Real Salt Lake handed out three of its year-end team awards following Monday night's game against the Dynamo.
In a relatively easy decision, goalkeeper Nick Rimando was named the team MVP. Rimando is the MLS leader in saves this year with 129, in addition to ranking fourth in save percentage at 75.6. Despite playing on one of the worst teams in MLS, Rimando also has six shutouts to his credit.
The previous two team MVPs were Andy Williams in 2005 and Jeff Cunningham in 2006.
Eddie Pope was named RSL's defensive player of the year, the same honor he received for the 2005 season. Pope started 26 games this year including tallying a critical goal against the L.A. Galaxy earlier this year.
Carey Talley was named the team's top defender last year.
Talley was named Real's humanitarian of the year, following in the footsteps of Brian Kamler in 2005 and Seth Trembly in 2006.
RSL's golden boot recipient is still up for grabs with Chris Brown and Robbie Findley tied with five goals each.
MLS DEBUT: Salt Lake rookie defender Dustin Kirby, who's played in nine reserve league games this year, made is MLS debut Monday night starting alongside Pope in the center of the defense.
RSL coach Jason Kreis said that once his team was eliminated from playoff contention he would give several untested players an opportunity with the senior team, and he kept his word by starting Kirby against the Dynamo.
NOTABLE ABSENCES: Houston was without two of its best midfielders on Monday.
Ricardo Clark is suspended for the rest of the season for kicking FC Dallas' Carlos Ruiz back on Sept. 30. The nine-game suspension includes the final four games of the 2007 regular season, any playoff games, and then any remaining games at the start of the 2008 season.
The defensive midfielder played in 19 games this season with Houston, in addition to making nine appearances with the U.S. National Team.
Dwayne DeRosario was also absent against Real Salt Lake, having left the team on Sunday to tend to a family emergency in Canada.
HALL OF FAMER: Kreis was one of five former Duke University athletes inducted into the school's sports hall of fame, a list that included former basketball star Christian Laettner.
"To be inducted this early on is truly a special honor, as there aren't that many athletes in the Duke Hall of Fame yet," said Kreis. "To be inducted alongside Christian Laettner, one of the most recognizable athletes in Duke history, is a very special honor as well."Kreis played for Duke from 1991 to 1994 finishing his career with 39 goals and 38 assists.
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