ATLANTA -- Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov has won the 2013 North American Soccer League Golden Ball award as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Hristov led the Rowdies in scoring with 12 goals and was tied for most assists in the league with teammate Luke Mulholland with eight and won the media vote for the annual award. His on-field performance also earned him a spot in the 2013 NASL Best XI.
“It is an honor to receive this award from the NASL,” said Hristov. “I am very happy that the media has recognized me for my results on the field. I would like to thank my teammates and the entire Rowdies organization as if it wasn't for them I would not be receiving this award. A special thanks to Head Coach Ricky Hill for always believing in me throughout the season. He is one of the best coaches I have ever had. One last thank you to the fans for always supporting us no matter what the result was.”
Hristov made an impact instantly in his debut during preseason on March 2, 2013. Chosen to the Team of the Week on seven occasions and once named Player of the Week, the Bulgarian played 22 games in 2013. He was named NASL Player of the Month in October, after playing a key role for the Rowdies offense. In that month, he led Tampa Bay to an unbeaten streak that stretched 10 matches, while scoring four goals and adding an assist.
“Everyone at the Rowdies Organization is extremely proud of Georgi for receiving the NASL Golden Ball,” said coach Ricky Hill. “He is an example both on and off the pitch and I am delighted that he has won this award. Over the years we've had players make the Best XI, and I am very happy that now we have a member of the Rowdies that has won the MVP award.”
Hristov saw action in Bulgaria’s first division, playing for Lokomotiv Sofia and Slavia Sofia having started his professional career with Maritsa Plovdiv. He scored more than 50 goals in the Bulgarian second division, and later become a leading goal scorer and league footballer of the year in the Bulgarian First Division with Botev Plovdiv.
In 2008-2009, Hristov won the Bulgarian first division championship with Levski Sofia and competed in the UEFA Europa League.Hristov joins former NASL Golden Ball Etienne Barbara (Carolina RailHawks 2011) and Pablo Campos (San Antonio Scorpions) in winning the award.