Player of the Year Award
The U.S. Soccer Player of the Year award is the highest honor awarded to soccer players in the United States. The Male and Female Player of the Year awards are the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, dating back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women. The Young Male and Young Female awards were added in 1998 and the Disabled Player of the Year in 2012.
Votes are collected from National Team and Youth National Team coaches and staff, National Team players who have earned a cap in this calendar year, American professional soccer league head coaches as well as select media members, former players and administrators.
2016 FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEESCrystal Dunn, Forward
In her three previous yearly campaigns combined, Dunn had played in 20 games and scored four goals. In 2016 alone, she played in 25 games and scored 14 goals, more than tripling her tallies from 2013-15. She also finished 2016 with eight assists, second most on the team and tied with Tobin Heath. Dunn had a five-goal game performance on Feb. 15 against Puerto Rico, becoming the seventh U.S. player to achieve that feat, joining Brandi Chastain (1991), Michelle Akers (1991), Tiffeny Milbrett (2002), Abby Wambach (2004), Amy Rodriguez (2012) and Sydney Leroux (2012). Perhaps her biggest moment of 2016 came at the Olympics when Dunn scored her first goal in a world championship. With the USA down a goal against Colombia on Aug. 9 in Manaus, Dunn on a rebound that fell to her while unmarked in the penalty box and the Olympic debutant finished into the center of the goal from close range. In 2016, Dunn did not put up the same goal numbers in the NWSL like she did in 2015, but she was a key player in the Spirit’s first run to the league championship game where she scored both goals for her club in a PK loss and was named to the NWSL Second XI.
Tobin Heath, Midfielder
U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Tobin Heath has always been one of the USA’s most skillful players. She has long dazzled fans with her keen passing and dynamic dribbling, and she creates excitement on whichever flank she happens to occupy, causing nightmares for opposing defenders with her combination of speed, fitness and soccer savvy. Even though she has always carried those qualities, 2016 was a year that saw the 28-year-old New Jersey native elevate her game to a new level. Heath played in 22 games, scoring six goals and recording eight assists, second-most on the team and tied with Crystal Dunn. Both numbers were career bests for Heath, who this year competed in her fifth world championship for the USA. She was one of the USA’s best players at the 2016 Olympic Games where she had two assists. In her fourth season playing for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns FC, Heath finished the year with 10 assists – a new league record – in only 14 appearances for the club. She was named to the NWSL Best XI.
Carli Lloyd, Midfielder
In 2016, U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder and co-captain Carli Lloyd, the reigning FIFA Women’s Player of the Year and U.S. Soccer Female Payer of the Year, scored 17 goals and recorded 11 assists (a team-leading mark) in 21 games. The total was one short of her career best 18 goals that she had scored in her spectacular 2015, but did so in five fewer games, thus making her totals even more impressive. Her 17 scores in 2016 brought her total to 96 international goals, just four shy of becoming the sixth player in U.S. history to score 100 or more. Lloyd, who very fittingly scored the first WNT goal of 2016 against the Republic of Ireland in San Diego last January, had three multi-goal games this year. Against Thailand on Sept. 15, Lloyd was part of seven of the nine goals the USA scored. She recorded her seventh international hat trick and added four assists to become the first player in U.S. history to record three goals and four assists in a single match. Against Switzerland on Oct. 23, Lloyd tallied a goal that will go down as one of the best she’s ever scored as she absolutely crushed a shot from distance into the upper right corner. At the 2016 Olympics, Lloyd tallied twice for the USA – against New Zealand and France – and became the only American to score multiple goals in three separate Olympic Games (’08,’12,’16). Her eight Olympic goals put her in second place behind Abby Wambach’s U.S. record of 10. Due to injuries and WNT commitments, Lloyd played in just seven games for the Houston Dash this season, but made the most of that time, scoring five goals with three assists.
Alex Morgan, Forward
After battling injuries in 2014-15, Morgan had a strong 2016, kicking off the year in her home state of California, where she earned her 100th cap, the 34th U.S. woman to do so, and scored her first goal of the year in a win against Ireland in San Diego. Morgan went on to score 17 goals in 21 games in 2016 (tied for the team lead with Carli Lloyd), her second highest goal total in a calendar year in her seven-year career with the WNT. She also had three assists. The only other time Morgan scored double-digit goals for the USA in a calendar year was in 2012 (28 goals), when she earned her first (and to date, only) U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year award. Even though Morgan already has many unforgettable goals in her career, she added two very special ones in 2016 during the SheBelieves Cup. First, there was the dramatic stoppage-time goal against France on March 6; and her sublime game-tying goal against Germany three days later. Additionally, Morgan, now with 73 international tallies in 120 caps, is within two goals of tying Cindy Parlow for seventh on the USA’s all-time scoring list. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, Morgan scored the game-tying goal against Sweden in regulation that took the game into extra time. Her goal was her sixth Olympic goal, which placed her in sole possession of third place behind Carli Lloyd (8) and Abby Wambach (10) on the USA’s Olympic goals-scored list. In her first season with NWSL expansion club Orlando Pride, she played in 15 matches while scoring four goals with one assist.
Becky Sauerbrunn, Defender
U.S. Women’s National Team defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who alongside Carli Lloyd was named co-captain of the WNT in January, had one of her strongest years on the field. A rock-solid presence in the middle of the defense, Sauerbrunn started all 23 games in which she saw action, played 1,897 minutes – most on the team – and added three assists in 2016, one more than she had to date in her entire seven-year career with the USA. Sauerbrunn was also only one of two players who played every minute for the USA at the 2016 Olympics. She became the 35th woman to play 100 times for her country when she reached the milestone against Canada on Feb. 21 at the Olympic Qualifying Championship Game where she assisted on Lindsey Horan’s game-winning goal. At club level, Sauerbrunn played every minute of all 14 games she started for FC Kansas City in 2016 and was a vital member of a defense that allowed the second lowest number of goals this season.
2016 YOUNG FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Emily Ogle, Midfielder
Ogle played for the U.S. U-14 GNT in 2010, the U-18 WNT in 2014 and then moved up to the U-20 WNT for this cycle where she served as team captain until Mallory Pugh returned from full WNT duty. So far, Ogle started every game and played every minute at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, doing the scrappy, hard work in the center of the midfield as she helped the USA reach the Third-Place Match. She has 21 caps at the U-20 level and one goal, which she scored against Venezuela on Oct. 10 in the USA’s final match before the World Cup. She has played 1,210 international minutes for the USA this year, second best on the team, and started in 14 of the 15 games the USA has played so far. She did not play at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship in Honduras as she was helping Penn State win the NCAA title as a sophomore, and red-shirted this college season to participate in the World Cup cycle.
Kaleigh Riehl, Defender
A hard-nosed center back, Riehl played a key role on the back line during her second U-20 cycle and put in a fantastic performance at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, helping the USA defuse some of the best attacking teams in the world. She currently has 20 caps and two goals at the U-20 level, scoring against Papua New Guinea U-20 WNT during the USA’s pre-World Cup visit to PNG and against the Venezuela U-20 WNT. Riehl, who was also on the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team as the third-youngest player, did not play in that tournament but grew exponentially during her second U-20 cycle to become one of the team’s most consistent and best players. She led the U.S. U-20s in minutes played this year with 1,290, playing every minute of all 14 games in which she has appeared. She did not play at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship in Honduras as she was helping Penn State win the NCAA title as a freshman, and red-shirted this college season to participate in the World Cup cycle.
Karina Rodriguez, Defender
Rodriguez has received consistent call-ups with the U-17 Women’s National Team since the end of 2014 and was one of the top players in this cycle, captaining the squad on several occasions. A member of the U.S. team at the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup that competed in Jordan earlier this year, she started and played every minute of all three of the USA’s group matches. Rodriguez was an important part of the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Grenada, where played in four matches, starting all four, and picked up one assist in helping the USA to the regional title and a berth to the U-17 Women’s World Cup. Rodriguez finished her U-17 career with 19 caps and played 1,190 minutes in 2016. Rodriguez has verbally committed to attend UCLA in the fall of 2017, where she will get to play with her older sister Anika.
Ashley Sanchez, Forward
The 17-year-old Sanchez is one of the top players in the world for her age and the only player on the 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup Team that was born in 1999. This year, she became the first U.S. player to play in two Women’s World Cups in the same year, and was one of the USA’s top players at the 2017 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan, scoring two goals, one against Paraguay and two against eventual runner-up Japan. She played every minute of all three games and finished her U-17 career averaging a goal a game with 21 goals in 21 caps. Sanchez has started all five games for the USA in Papua New Guinea so far, playing all but two minutes, while scoring one goal and dishing two assists. She currently has 15 U-20 caps and five goals. She won the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament at the 2016 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Grenada, starting all five games while scoring a team-leading five goals as she helped the USA to the regional title and a berth to the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. She was also named to the 2016 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship Best XI. At the end of 2015, she helped the U-20s qualify for the 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup at the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship held in December in Honduras, scoring three goals (including the game-winner against Canada in the championship match) while dishing out a team-leading five assists as the USA earned its ticket to Papua New Guinea. In 2016, Sanchez also trained briefly with the full U.S. Women’s National Team during an April camp in Orlando, Fla. She has verbally committed to attend UCLA next fall.
Andi Sullivan, Midfielder
The Stanford junior was recently called up to the senior Women’s National Team for the final four matches of the year over October and November, making quite a splash for a young player as she not only earned her first cap on Oct. 19 against Switzerland in Sandy, Utah, but also started all four games while recording her first two WNT assists. A veteran of the USA’s 2012 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup and the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup teams, she also played for the U.S. Under-23 WNT in 2016, earning seven caps while scoring two goals, against the full Slovenia WNT and against the England U-23s. She had a fantastic college season, earning Pac-12 Player of the Year honors while leading the team with 11 goals and seven assists. She was named All-Pac-12 First Team (for the third consecutive year) and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist.
2016 MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Jozy Altidore, Forward
Jozy Altidore produced an efficient campaign in 2016, leading the U.S. MNT with six goals in 10 caps. The 10th year MNT veteran tallied four scores in World Cup Qualifying, including a brace against Trinidad & Tobago, to secure the top spot in Group C of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Semifinal Round. With M.L.S.’s Toronto FC, Altidore netted 10 goals and five assists in 23 regular season appearances before scoring in each of the Reds’ five playoff games thus far.
Michael Bradley, Midfielder
U.S. veteran Michael Bradley paced the team with 17 caps in 2016, starting every game for which he was summoned. The 2015 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year captained the MNT to an impressive fourth-place finish in the Copa America Centenario and helped secure a spot in the Hex. Bradley has also captained Toronto FC to M.L.S. Cup, recording one goal and five assists in 24 regular season contests, while scoring a crucial away goal in the Eastern Conference Final against Montreal.
Geoff Cameron, Defender
Mainstay defender Geoff Cameron started in a career-high 12 games for the MNT in 2016, playing the full 90 minutes in each appearance, including all six Copa America Centenario matches. With Cameron on the field, the U.S. allowed a mere .83 goals per 90 minutes this year, the best of any MNT center back with at least five starts. Cameron also chipped in a goal against Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier on March 29. He has appeared in 25 matches across all competitions with English Premier League club Stoke City this year.
Clint Dempsey, Forward
Three-time U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year Clint Dempsey (2007, 2011, 2012) tallied an impressive four goals and four assists in 10 international matches in 2016. The 33-year-old veteran ranked fourth in the Copa America Centenario with three goals and second with three assists, both of which led the United States. Prior to being sidelined with an irregular heartbeat, Dempsey scored eight goals in 17 games for the M.L.S. Western Conference Champion Seattle Sounders FC, five of which came during a three-match stretch in August via a hat trick (in 59 minutes of action, no less) against Orlando City FC and a brace two weeks later against the Portland Timbers.
Bobby Wood, Forward
24-year-old attacker Bobby Wood followed up last year’s breakout campaign with another strong performance in 2016. The Honolulu native recorded four goals and two assists in 15 caps for the MNT, ranking second on the team in both categories. Wood also flourished with 2. Bundesliga side Union Berlin, finishing second in the league with 17 goals in the 2015-16 campaign, setting a new record for an American-born player in Germany’s top two leagues. His efforts earned him a transfer to top-flight German club Hamburger SV, where he has scored two goals through 10 appearances this fall.
2016 YOUNG MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Andrew Carleton, Forward
After signing with Atlanta United as a Home Grown Player in June 2016, Carleton has since been on loan to the USL’s Charleston Battery where he became the youngest American professional player in history to start a USL match. In 2016, Carleton recorded 25 caps and 14 goals with the U.S. U-17 MNT, including braces against Portugal (twice), Jamaica and Turkey. He has also recorded seven assists on the year. Carleton is widely regarded as a confident player whose comfortability and imagination are the characteristics that most separate him from others, allowing him to create and score goals. The highest praise Carleton continues to receive from his coaches is his consistency, competitive mentality and willingness to learn and get better every day.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, Defender
As a 17-year-old in 2015, Cameron Carter-Vickers represented the U.S. U-20 MNT at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and played with the U-23 MNT in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. A member of the Tottenham Hotspur Academy since age 10, Carter-Vickers signed a new contract with the club this past September, securing his future with the English Premier League club through 2019. A constant in Tottenham’s matchday squad, Carter-Vickers captained the U-20 MNT during the Four Nations Tournament in October, impressing enough to earn his first senior call-up for the MNT’s October World Cup Qualifying matches against Mexico and Costa Rica.
Jordan Morris, Forward
Already well known for scoring his first MNT goal while still playing collegiately at Stanford, Jordan Morris continued his upward trajectory in his first year as a professional. The Seattle Sounders FC forward appeared in all 34 of the club’s regular season matches, tallying 12 goals and two assists en route to the M.L.S. Rookie of the Year award. Just 22 years old, Morris pitched in greatly during Sounders FC’s midseason turnaround, filled in for injured MNT teammate Clint Dempsey as he helped the club to a playoff appearance, while his two postseason goals have pushed the side to its first M.L.S. Cup Final. Internationally, Morris earned five caps for the MNT in 2016 as well as contributing to the U.S. U-23 side during its Olympic Qualifying playoff against Colombia.
Christian Pulisic, Midfielder
Though a long-touted prospect, few could have predicted the type of contributions midfielder Christian Pulisic would make to both the U.S. Men’s National Team and Borussia Dortmund in 2016. Just 17 when the year began, Pulisic impressed during Dortmund’s winter break and went on to make his Bundesliga debut in January. After starting his first match three weeks later, Pulisic was eventually summoned to senior team camp and at 17 years, 193 days, became the youngest player to appear for the MNT in a World Cup qualifier during the team’s 4-0 win vs. Guatemala on March 29. Multiple ”youngest player” records followed as he became the youngest non-German to score in the Bundesliga (April 17 vs. Hamburg), as well as to score two goals in the Bundesliga (April 23 vs. Stuttgart). For the U.S., he became the youngest to score a goal for the MNT (May 28 vs. Bolivia), score in a World Cup qualifier (Sept. 2 at St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and start a World Cup qualifier (Sept. 6 vs. Trinidad & Tobago). Part of the USA squad that finished fourth at Copa America Centenario, Pulisic finished 2016 with three goals and two assists from 11 caps and has continued to see plenty of action for Borussia Dortmund in both Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League play.
Josh Sargent, Midfielder
Playing in every game on the U-17 MNT calendar, Josh Sargent is a fast and physical forward with exceptional defensive positioning against opponent back lines. During his 29 international caps in 2016, Sargent tallied 14 goals and seven assists, including a hat trick on Nov. 30 against Portugal during the Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. A product of U.S. Soccer Development Academy program St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri, Sargent spent time with the U-14 and U-15 National Teams before his call up to the U.S. U-17’s Residency Program in January. A team captain for U-17 MNT head coach John Hackworth, Sargent has earned high praise for the development of his field awareness while attending playing in the Residency Program.
2016 DISABLED PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Adam Ballou, Paralympic National Team
Part of the U.S. Paralympic National Team player pool since 2007, Ballou has continued to improve during his time with the team to the point that this is his second consecutive year being nominated for Disabled Player of the Year. The Virginia Beach, Va. Native was the U.S. PNT’s top goal scorer at the 2016 Paralympic Games with two goals. He scored both against the Netherlands, rescuing a dramatic 2-2 tie in the last moments of the game for the USA.
Nico Calabria, Amputee National Team
Scored five goals to help the U.S. Amputee National Team place third at the 2016 International Amputee Soccer Cup in Costa Rica, a best-ever finish for the USA. As captain of the team, he also recorded four assists in the tournament and also works tirelessly off the field to help raise funds so the team can continue to operate. He has been a member of the Amputee Soccer National Team for the last five years.
It was a record setting year by Cressey who led the U.S. Deaf Women’s National Team to Deaf World Cup title on the strength of her 11 goals during the competition (a record for most goals scored in a single tournament. Her record performance earned Cressy the 2016 Deaf World Cup Golden Boot award as well as a Best XI nod.
Matt Eby, Deaf Men’s National Team
A Member of the U.S. Deaf National Team since 2004, Eby earned the opportunity to represent the USA for 2016 Deaf World Cup, helping the team achieve a 6th-place finish by leading the defense to secure two clean sheets during the competition. The Lancaster, Pa. native reached 33 Career Caps for the USDMNT this year.