Last year, A.J. Soares made 18 appearances while competing with Stephen McCarthy to play center back alongside Jose Goncalves. Soares took ownership of the spot during the 2014 season and had a career year by making 32 appearances while helping the New England Revolution to eight shutouts. Offensively Soares had his best season to date, producing two goals and one assist.
The contributions of the fourth year professional were recognized in a pregame ceremony on Saturday when Soares was named as the team’s Defender of the Year and Players’ Player. The second award was particularly significant to Soares as it was voted on by his teammates.
"It means a lot," Soares commented. "I love those guys. For them to give me that award, I really appreciate it."
Soares was given the award by Goncalves, his frequent partner on the back line. Soares stated that he’s learned lot from Goncalves, including how to properly approach the game and take care of the body. It was special moment to have Goncalves, a player that Soares looks up to, present him with the award.
"We have a great relationship off the field," Soares said. "We hang out a lot outside of the locker room and I think it shows. I’m proud to play next him. I’m really happy to get that award and for him to give it to me, it means a lot."
To his teammates, the accolade is well-deserved as Soares has been a model of consistency throughout the season. The California native made 30 starts as center back, pairing with either Goncalves or Andrew Farrell. Soares also made two appearance as a defensive midfielder when the team was low on options.
Regardless of where he was playing, Soares was always providing fierce tackles and important leadership.
"You can’t say enough good things about A.J.," Bobby Shuttleworth praised. "His communication, he’s been unreal for us the entire season and he deserves every accolade that he’s going to get this year."