U.S. Soccer has announced the nominees for its 2020 Player of the Year awards. The lists include five nominees for Female Player of the Year and six nominees for Male Player of the Year.
Votes will be collected from a mixture of relevant coaches, players, board and council members. Voting will be open until the end of the day on December 16th. The winners will be announced on Friday, December 18th.
Shortlists for Young Players of the Year and Player of the Year with a Disability have also been released. More information can be found on the U.S. Soccer website.
Female Player of the Year
Drum roll please … 🥁🥁🥁
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) December 9, 2020
In 2020, Dahlkamper continued to cement her place as the United States’ premier central defender. At the club level, the 27-year-old played 90 minutes for the North Carolina Courage in all four of their NWSL Fall Series matches. On the international stage, she played in all nine USWNT games in 2020, and led the team in minutes played in the process. Dahlkamper played an important role in the USWNT’s Olympic Qualifying campaign, as well as victory in the SheBelieves Cup.
Like Dahlkamper, Dunn is a key component of a USWNT defense that conceded just one goal in nine matches in 2020. She logged just one fewer minute than Dahlkamper in 2020 for the National Team. The 28-year-old was the only player to start all five Olympic Qualifying games. The cream of the American crop at the outside back position, Dunn can also contribute while playing higher up the field. She could be found playing all over the pitch for the North Carolina Courage. The UNC product helped guide the Courage to the final of the NWSL Challenge Cup. Dunn was traded twice on October 22nd, eventually ending up with the Portland Thorns.
Lindsey Horan was an offensive star for the USWNT in 2020. She scored seven goals, tying for the team lead, while also adding three assists. Six of Horan’s goals came in the vital Olympic Qualifying tournament. She added one more for good measure in the final game of the SheBelieves Cup. The 26-year-old was also very good for the Portland Thorns in 2020. She scored two goals and added three assists across eight matches. Horan also demonstrated her versatility in midfield in 2020. She remains a potent goal scoring threat, even when deployed in a deeper role.
The Hanson, Massachusetts product has had a tremendous 2020 for both club and country. For the USWNT, Mewis chipped in four goals and an assist over the course of eight games. All of her goals came at the Olympic Qualifying tournament, as she scored two each against Costa Rica and Mexico. Mewis contributed with a goal and an assist for North Carolina in the NWSL Challenge Cup. In August, she moved across the pond to Manchester City, where she has gotten off to a phenomenal start. Her crowning achievement thus far came in the FA Cup Final on November 1st. She scored in the game to help Manchester City to a 3-1 victory over Everton in extra time. In doing so, she became just the third American to score in an FA Cup Final, after Carli Lloyd and Christian Pulisic.
Press was arguably the best offensive player the USWNT had in 2020. She tied Horan for the lead in scoring with seven goals and three assists. She was named the best player at the Olympic Qualifying tournament, scoring five goals. At the SheBelieves Cup, she scored game winners for the United States against England and Japan. Press signed for Manchester United in September. The California native scored her first goal for the club against West Ham in October.
All five of the names on this list would be thoroughly deserving of the award. Based on her play for the USWNT, Christen Press stands out from the rest. Other players may have accomplished more at the club level in 2020, but nobody was more important to the United States’ attack at the beginning of the year. Press has consistently been very good for the United States since earning her first cap in 2013. She is more than deserving of this individual honor.
Male Player of the Year
📰! Six players have been named finalists for U.S. Soccer's Male Player of the Year:
Read up on our nominees. 👇
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) December 9, 2020
The 21-year-old Adams had an extremely strong year for RB Leipzig. Playing primarily as a central midfielder, he helped the German side to a 3rd place finish in the 2019/20 Bundesliga season. However, his crowning achievement came in the Champions League. While playing in a quarterfinal against Atlético Madrid in August, Adams scored the game winner, propelling Leipzig to their first ever UCL semifinal. In the process, he became the first American to score in the quarterfinal stage of the competition. Adams has also helped Leipzig into the last 16 once again this season. The former New York Red Bull has appeared twice for the USMNT in 2020, against Wales and Panama.
Dest made headlines in October when he moved from Ajax to FC Barcelona for a fee of $23 million. On October 4th, Dest became the first American to play for the Spanish giants. He scored his first goal for the club in November in a 4-0 Champions League win over Dynamo Kyiv. The 20-year-old can play as a full back on either side, but he has featured primarily on the right for both Barcelona and the USMNT. Dest also featured twice for the USMNT in 2020. He played as a right back against Wales, and as a left back against Panama.
Like Dest, McKennie secured a move to a global powerhouse in 2020. The 22-year-old started the year with Schalke, before securing a loan move to Juventus for the 20/21 season. McKennie has not looked out of place with the perennial Italian title favorites. He has featured 11 times in total, scoring two goals and adding an assist. McKennie’s personal highlight came on Tuesday in the Champions League. He volleyed home an acrobatic finish to put Juventus up 2-0 against Barcelona. By producing what just might be the best goal scored by an American man in 2020, he helped his club secure first place in UCL group G. Like Dest and Adams, McKennie featured twice for the USMNT in November.
The first MLS player on this list, Morris has been vital in Seattle’s run to the MLS Cup. Morris has not appeared for the USMNT, but it has been a career year at the club level for the 26-year-old. Morris tied for fifth in both goals and assists in the MLS, scoring ten times and helping his teammates to do so on eight more occasions. With 18 goal contributions, Morris finished tied for second in MLS.
Simply put, Christian Pulisic is the most talented American male soccer player in the world at the moment. Despite missing 20 games for Chelsea through an abductor tear, a calf strain and a hamstring injury, he has proven to be one of the most important attackers at the club. The 22-year-old made history in August when he became the first American man to score in an FA Cup Final against Arsenal. Since returning from injury in October, he has scored two goals in eight appearances in 20/21. The Hershey, Pennsylvania native has been a real difference maker for a Chelsea team who currently sit third in the Premier League table. Pulisic has not played for the USMNT in 2020, missing out on the November games due to a hamstring injury.
Zardes has scored 14 goals and added five assists in all competitions for the Columbus Crew in 2020. He finished second in goal scoring in the MLS regular season, finding the back of the net 12 times. Like Morris, he is a huge reason why his team will be lining up for the MLS Cup on Saturday. Zardes featured once for the USMNT in 2020. He came off the bench in a 1-0 Victory over Costa Rica, way back in February.
It is exciting that there is enough USMNT talent out there right now to make this such a tough choice. McKennie, Dest and Adams have all had great years. Adams’ Champions League goal will go down in US Soccer folklore. Dest and McKennie have done a lot to raise their profiles with big moves. Even with his injuries, Christian Pulisic is just playing at too high a level to ignore. In the final nine matchweeks of the 19/20 Premier League season, Pulisic tallied up four goals and four assists. His burst of form was key in securing Chelsea a spot in the Champions League for the 20/21 season. Dest, McKennie and Adams would all be deserving winners, but having a USMNT player contributing at such a high offensive level in the Premier League is simply too good to overlook.
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