Chicago Fire defender Jalil Anibaba was voted MLS Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 32. Anibaba notched a first half brace as the Fire defeated the Columbus Crew 3-2 to close out the MLS regular season as winners of seven of their final 10 games.
The rookie defender opened his MLS account in the 11th minute when Pavel Pardo sent a hopeful ball into the penalty area and Anibaba glanced a header past Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Fire advantage.
The University of North Carolina product solidified his grasp on the Player of the Week Award when fellow center back Cory Gibbs sent a driven cross into the area and Anibaba tucked a well-timed, looping header over Hesmer and inside the back post. Fire defenders have accrued six goals in 2011, all of which were scored on headers in the box.
The rookie center back became only the second defender to capture the award in 2011 joining Seattle Sounders FC’s Jeff Parke. Anibaba is the second Fire player to win the MLS Player of the Week award alongside Fire midfielder Marco Pappa, who took home the honor in Week 29.
The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by a panel of journalists from NASR. The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information can be found at http://www.soccerreporters.com/.