Every autumn, the Crew wraps up its regular season by hosting a casino night and awards ceremony for its players, staff and fans. This year's event goes down Tuesday at LC Pavilion, sandwiched between two road contests that will close out the regular season and decide the club's playoff fate.

Every autumn, the Crew wraps up its regular season by hosting a casino night and awards ceremony for its players, staff and fans. This year’s event goes down Tuesday at LC Pavilion, sandwiched between two road contests that will close out the regular season and decide the club’s playoff fate.

Those matches at New England (this weekend) and Chicago (next) loom large for a club that once seemed like a lock for the postseason. But before we get all serious, let’s lighten things up with a look at my picks for the year-end awards.

MVP: Eddie Gaven

Gaven has scored five goals this year, which is pretty impressive for a low-scoring Crew like this one. But his offensive output is only a small part of why I think Gaven and his exceptional beard deserve to repeat as club MVP. On a team built mostly from journeymen, rookies and awkward spare parts, Gaven’s composure and work ethic are contagious.

Consider this stat: The Crew went 2-6-1 in matches Gaven missed with a bone bruise (including the 2-0 loss at Colorado in which he got hurt after six minutes). In his first game back from injury, they won for the first time in seven tries, catapulted to victory on the strength of Gaven’s triumphant diving header. Speaking of which …

Goal of the year: Eddie Gaven

Gaven’s potentially season-saving header against D.C. United was good enough to crack the SportsCenter Top 10 on an NFL Sunday filled with pivotal baseball action. The Nordecke has rarely felt its collective desperation so emphatically lifted. This would be the goal of the year even if the 2011 Crew didn’t have so few to choose from.

Defender of the Year: Chad Marshall

An aerial force and just as dominant on his feet, the Crew’s rugged central defender is pretty much a lock to win this award for the fourth straight year.

Newcomer of the Year: Julius James

James has had his ups and downs this season, but his tireless efforts on the back line haven’t gone unnoticed. Even his own goal, a shameful moment for any soccer player, came because he was trying too hard.

Golden Boot: Andres Mendoza

This one isn’t so much a prediction as it is a preview. Unless Emilio Renteria explodes for five goals this Saturday at New England, Mendoza’s 11 goals will be the Crew’s best.