Male US Soccer Player of the Year field announced


The nominations are in for the male US Soccer Player of the Year award, and it is an interesting line-up for sure. There are five contenders, and only one winner of course, with the award stretching back to 1984. Landon Donovan is the current record-holder with four wins to his name, his most recent came in 2010.

This years field features current Premier League players in goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender DeAndre Yedlin; as well as MLS stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. Rounding off the list is Bundesliga-based defender Fabian Johnson. This is a very competitive field in a mixed year for the US side.

There were friendly victories against European elite Germany and the Netherlands, but also a Gold Cup semi-final burnout against Jamaica that left a sour taste. 2016 will be a very important year as World Cup qualification continues.

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Here is a look at the nominees for the award, and who is most likely to win the award.

Brad Guzan, Goalkeeper

Guzan was handed the starting spot as goalkeeper as a result of Tim Howard taking some time off international duty after a string of impressive World Cup displays. Guzan found himself with a slightly better defense than he is used to at Aston Villa, and was able to demonstrate his impressive abilities as a goalkeeper.

He ends the year with the Golden Glove at the Gold Cup, and had a career high 13 starts in one year for the national team. Guzan also moved up to fifth on the list of career shutouts. He really stepped up when needed for much of the year, and deserves recognition for stepping out of Tim Howard’s shadow.

Fabian Johnson, Defender

For a defender, Johnson sure finds the back of the net a lot. For his club, he scored in the Champions League twice and also netted against Bayern Munich in a 3-0 win over the German champions. Johnson also scored for the USA too, opening the scoring for the USA as they kicked off their World Cup Qualification campaign with a win.

Johnson too played 13 times, a personal best and was able to maintain a high level of performance that he displayed at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He will have another big year ahead in 2016, but can be fully expected to continue impressing.

DeAndre Yedlin, Defender

Despite his struggles at club level, Yedlin has a prominent role in the US team. He tied for most appearances this year, playing in 19 of 20 games. He also assisted five times. This included Yedlin making the set-up against the Netherlands for Michael Bradley to finish off and get the huge win. This put him behind only Bradley himself in team assists.

Yedlin has had the chance for more minutes with Sunderland since leaving Spurs on loan for the season on the final day of the transfer window, but his importance to the national team cannot be denied simply on the basis of a lack of chances domestically.

Michael Bradley, Midfielder

Captain America, Bradley earned his 100th cap in 2015 and became the fourth youngest player to reach the century club for the national team. He played the most out of any player on the roster this year, also leading with six assists. He netted three times too to round things off. Oh, and was named Man of the Match in the huge victories over the Netherlands and Germany.

Away from the national side, he lead Toronto into the play-offs as their captain too. Arguably the most important player in the national team, and probably second to only Giovinco in importance for club. He had a great individual year in a bad year as a whole for the national team.

Clint Dempsey, Foward

It was goals galore for Dempsey this year, whose impressive numbers may give him the edge over his captain Bradley. The Seattle Sounders man recorded nine goals, a team best and moving ever closer to the all-time top goal scorer title for the national side. He too also joined the 100 cap club, taking his tally to 100 against Chile in January.

Top scorer at the Gold Cup, Dempsey also scored more than a quarter of Seattle’s goals this season. However some may not be quick to forget the US Open Cup ‘red card wedding’ that saw Dempsey sent off for ripping up the referees notepad. That could be a block to a potential win.

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It will be a great way to end of the year for whoever gets the award. Johnson would be my pick. He has shown great performances for club and country, and has put the work in to get this far. Yedlin has had a good showing for the national team but his lack of games at club could prove a hinderance.

Guzan too has not had the best year. Dempsey could push for it given the numbers he has put up this season. But there are critics who will complain he won on name alone if he does indeed pick up the award.