Just a couple months into his American adventure, Darren Huckerby has been named the MLS Newcomer of the Year for 2008. The former Norwich City star has lit up the San Jose Earthquakes attack since arriving in July, scoring six goals and notching four assists.
Huckerby wasn't in the running for MVP award, but he's well worth his Newcomer accolades. This prize is given to the best player who is new to MLS, but has prior professional experience. He did, however, win the San Jose MVP award, its golden boot, as well as MLS' player of the month award for September.
"Darren had phenomenal run for us right from his arrival to the team," said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. "He brought an attacking mentality to our team that helped spark us on our run for the playoffs. His experience and professionalism were also great assets to the team this year. He is very deserving of this award."
Perhaps most indicative of Huckerby's impact on the team is its records either side of his arrival. Before Huckerby joined the squad on July 14, the floundering squad posted a 3-9-4 record. After he arrived from Norwich, via Toronto though he chose not to play for them because of their pitch, it racked up an impressive 5-4-5.
This, of course, corresponded with the acquisitions of Francisco Lima, Scott Sealy and Arturo Alvarez, but it was Huckerby who starred in the team's revival. His pace and sparkling flank play sliced through many a defense in the second half of the season.
Huckerby boasts a long career dating back to 1993 and includes the following clubs: Lincoln City, Newcastle United, Millwall, Coventry City, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest. Now, of course, that list includes San Jose in what looks to be one of MLS' most exciting signings.
Luciano Emilio won last season's version of the Newcomer of the Year Award, when the category made its debut.