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.
2017 FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Julie Ertz, Midfielder
It’s rare that a player has two “break-out” years with the U.S. WNT, but after earning most of her first 50 or so caps as a central defender and playing every minute in the USA’s run to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup title in that position, Ertz played the entire 2017 NWSL season and final eight games of the WNT’s 2017 schedule as a defensive midfielder. Her impact on both sides of the ball for club and country was impressive, as it combined her world-class ball-winning skills with an ability to set the attack in midfield while proving a consistently dangerous presence in the penalty area. Ertz played all but 48 minutes across 22 of the Chicago Red Stars’ 24 regular season matches – as well as in the NWSL semifinal vs. NC Courage – scoring four goals and adding three assists. She was named to the NWSL Second XI. For the U.S. WNT, Ertz came on as a second-half substitute against Brazil on July 30 at the Tournament of Nations in the 57th minute and would go on to score the dramatic game-winner in the 89th minute of the epic 4-3 victory. She played all but 52 minutes through the team’s final seven games at defensive mid, dominating the center of the field while scoring five more goals, including a brace against New Zealand, to finish second on the team in scoring. Ertz’s six total goals in 2017 almost equaled her overall total (8) from her previous four years on the WNT.
Lindsey Horan, Midfielder
In her fifth season as a professional (at age 23), Horan had a highly successful year, helping lead the Portland Thorns to the NWSL title while settling into an important role for the U.S. National Team. The skillful midfielder, who also contributed greatly to her teams with her aerial presence, started all 24 games and scored four goals with two assists for the Thorns, while playing all but 35 minutes of the regular season. She was named to the NWSL Second XI. In the playoffs, she picked up an assist in Portland’s 4-1 semifinal victory against the Orlando Pride and then scored the game-winner and lone goal of her side’s 1-0 victory against NWSL Shield winners North Carolina Courage in the championship game. For the U.S. WNT, Horan played in 13 of the team’s 16 matches, carving out a role in the center midfield. She played all 90 minutes in the final three games of the year, earning Player of the Game honors in two of them. She finished second on the team in assists with four and tallied her one goal of the year to open the scoring in a 5-0 victory against New Zealand.
Samantha Mewis, Midfielder
Mewis had one of the biggest years on the team, starting all 16 games (one of only two players to do so) and finished second on the WNT in minutes played with 1,242 total. Over the course of the year she proved to be an impact player in center midfield, winning 50/50 balls on the ground and in the air while becoming a key fulcrum in the USA’s attack. In just her fourth year on the U.S. team, she almost doubled her career caps and goals. She also recorded her first career brace, tallying twice against the Korea Republic on Oct. 22 in Cary, N.C. where she plays for the North Carolina Courage. She also scored in the Tournament of Nations against Brazil. For the Courage, Mewis had an MVP-caliber season (she was a finalist for the award), leading the club to a first-place finish in the regular season, a semifinal victory against the Chicago Red Stars and came just short of winning a second straight NWSL title. She started all 24 games for the Courage and played all but 53 minutes of the regular season while scoring six goals with three assists. She was named to the NWSL Best XI.
Alex Morgan, Forward
Morgan spent the first part of 2017 in France playing with European power Olympique Lyon and helped the club to a historic treble, winning the League, French Cup and Champions League titles. She became just the third American to win a UEFA Champions League. She played in 15 matches during her stint in France, seven in the league (five goals), three in the Cup (seven goals) and five in Champions League play. She started the Champions League Final against rival Paris Saint-Germain but was forced to leave in the 23rd minute when she aggravated a hamstring injury. That injury kept her out of the USA’s June friendlies in Europe, but she returned for the Tournament of Nations and scored in the finale vs. Japan, starting a streak of seven goals across the final seven WNT games of the year. She scored in both games against Canada to end the WNT’s campaign. Those seven scores led the team in 2017 and moved her into sole possession of seventh place on the USA’s all-time goals list with 80 career goals. She also ended her 2017 NWSL season on a hot streak, scoring nine goals in her last 12 games for the Orlando Pride and finished tied for fifth in the league in goals while helping the Pride to its first playoff berth. She also had four assists in her 13 regular season games and was named to the NWSL Second XI.
Megan Rapinoe, Forward
Rapinoe had a bounce-back year with Seattle Reign FC after fully recovering from ACL surgery at the end of 2015 and led the NWSL in scoring for a good portion of the season before minor knee surgery sidelined her for a few games. The MVP finalist eventually finished third in NWSL scoring with 12 goals in 18 matches (along with one assist) and was named to the NWSL Second XI. Three of those goals came in an epic 5-4 win against Sky Blue FC in which the New Jersey club erased a 4-0 deficit before Rapinoe bagged the game-winner in the 87th minute. For the WNT, Rapinoe played in 12 matches and scored three goals with a team-leading five assists. She scored two of the most spectacular goals of the year, dramatically tying the score at 3-3 in a wild 4-3 win vs. Brazil in the Tournament of Nations before opening the scoring in a 3-0 win vs. Japan one game later.
2017 YOUNG FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Tierna Davidson, Midfielder
The sophomore at Stanford was one of the top players in the U-20 WNT player pool as the team went through the first year of its two-year cycle with the goal of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Davidson earned her first six U-20 caps this year. She also played in seven games for the U.S. U-23 WNT, three of them international matches. The Menlo Park, California product, who played her youth club soccer for the DeAnza Force, had a tremendous season for Stanford University. She started all 25 games and scored three goals with six assists while playing center back for a team that led the conference in fewest goals allowed and lowest goals against average. Stanford finished the season 24-1-0 and advanced to the NCAA College Cup, where it defeated UCLA, 3-2, to win its second NCAA Women’s Soccer title in school history. The 5-foot-10 Davidson was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, a First-Team All-Pac 12 selection and a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist. Davidson also got her first and second call-ups to train with the full U.S. WNT during January Camp and again in September.
Jaelin Howell, Midfielder
A starter on the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup Team, Howell has become a key player for the U-20 WNT during the first year of its two-year cycle with the goal of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She played in nine U-20 international matches this year, her first caps at that level, while becoming a team leader in central midfield. Howell also received several call-ups to the U-23 WNT, playing in five matches, three of them internationals, and scored against the Norway and Sweden U-23 sides during a trip to Sweden in June. In addition, she earned two U-19 WNT caps. The 5-foot-8 high school senior hails from Windsor, Colorado, and plays her club soccer for the Real Colorado U-18/19 Development Academy side. Howell also got some valuable experience during her first call-up to the full U.S. Women’s National Team, training with the senior side during April friendlies against Russia.
Savannah McCaskill, Forward
The strong and physical forward had a banner year for the South Carolina Gamecocks, earning First-Team All-American honors while winning the 2017 SEC Offensive Player of the Year award. A First-Team All-SEC Selection, she was also a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist. The senior from Chapin, S.C. led her team in scoring with eight goals and assists with nine while scoring five game-winning goals during a 19-3-1 campaign that included an SEC title that culminated in a berth to the NCAA College Cup, the first for her school. She was the only player to play in all 10 matches for the U-23 WNT this year, six of them internationals, and scored against the Japan U-23 WNT. She played the second-most minutes for the U-23s this year. In January of this year, she was called up from a U-23 WNT camp to train with the senior U.S. Women’s National Team for the first time.
Sophia Smith, Forward
The high school senior out of Windsor, Colorado, plays her club soccer for the Real Colorado U-18/19 Development Academy, and has scored 16 goals through the end of November. She had the rare distinction of scoring for three different U.S. National Teams this year. In February, she scored for the U-18 WNT against England and Norway. For the U-20 WNT, she scored against Norway (twice), Germany (twice), France and Japan. For the U-23 WNT, she scored against Norway as well as the game-winner against the Portland Thorns. A member of the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup Team, the speedy and elusive forward has become a key player for the U-20 WNT during the first year of its two-year cycle with the goal of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, leading the team with six international goals. She has played in 17 international matches this year (the most of any player in any age group, including the senior WNT) for four age group teams, earning three caps for the U-23s, her first nine for the U-20s, two for the U-19s, and three for the U-18s. She also got some valuable experience this year during her first call-up to the full U.S. Women’s National Team, training with the senior side during April friendlies against Russia, but did not earn cap.
Kate Wiesner, Defender
A highly skillful player and gritty defender, Wiesner is also capable of scoring goals and adding to the attack when going forward. She has excellent international experience for a 16-year-old, having been one of the youngest players on the 2016 U.S. U-17 Women’s World Cup squad. This year, she is one of several players who is in her second U-17 cycle as the team focuses on qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay. As one of the most experienced players in the pool with 23 caps at the U-17 level, she became a team captain and an impact player at outside back. The high school junior from Monrovia, California, plays her club soccer for the LAFC Slammers U-18/19 Development Academy team and has played in nine international matches with the U-17 WNT this year. She leads the team in minutes played.
2017 MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Jozy Altidore, Forward
This year was marked by milestones for the 2016 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year, beginning with becoming the second-youngest player in MNT history to reach 100 caps. He followed that up by becoming just the third MNT player to surpass the 40-goal mark, then finally winning his first trophy with the MNT, scoring a first-half free kick to help the USA defeat Jamaica 2-1 in the Gold Cup Final. Meantime, the prolific striker tied Clint Dempsey as joint all-time scorers for the MNT in World Cup Qualifying with 18 total. It was also a banner year for Altidore on the club front, as he helped Toronto FC claim its second straight Canadian Cup back in June. He finished the regular season racking up MLS career bests with 27 appearances, 15 goals and six assists as the Reds won the Supporters Shield with the league’s highest point total (69). Most recently, Altidore pushed Toronto FC back to the MLS Cup Final, scoring the winning goal in the club’s 1-0 second leg victory against Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference Final.
Michael Bradley, Midfielder
A finalist for U.S. Soccer’s most prestigious award for the third year running – and the winner in 2015 – the U.S. and Toronto FC captain continues to set the standard both on and off the field, having already collected three trophies this year with a fourth within reach. Bradley scored one of the most memorable goals in MNT history in the massive World Cup Qualifier against Mexico, stunning the crowd at Estadio Azteca when he alertly chipped the Mexico goalkeeper from 40 yards out for his fifth career goal against El Trí. He earned the Golden Ball as the tournament MVP of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, leading the U.S. to its sixth confederation championship title, and finished the year tied for the most starts with 13 total. Bradley leads Toronto FC into its second straight MLS Cup final, having already captained the squad to a Canadian Championship victory and to the Supporters Shield as the best team during the MLS regular season. His 30 starts were the most for Toronto FC and equaled a personal high in the domestic league.
Clint Dempsey, Forward
After an irregular heartbeat prematurely ended Clint Dempsey’s contributions for the MNT and Seattle Sounders FC in 2016, the three-time U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year (2007, 2011, 2012) made a strong comeback to both sides in 2017. In his trademark determined style, he punctuated his return to the MNT by recording his second-career hat trick in the 6-0 rout of Honduras in World Cup Qualifying. Another strike four days later in Panama put Dempsey on the doorstep of Landon Donovan’s MNT record of 57, one which he would equal with another scintillating free kick to cap the USA’s 2-0 Gold Cup Semifinal win against Costa Rica on July 22. Three of his four assists on the year came during the MNT’s successful Gold Cup championship run, including the helper on Jordan Morris’ 88th minute game winner in the 2-1 Final win against Jamaica. The 34-year-old had a stellar year on the club side as well, amassing 12 goals and five assists as Seattle Sounders FC finished tied for the best record in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference. Clutch in postseason play, he scored three goals in as many matches to lead Sounders FC back to the MLS Cup Final.
Christian Pulisic, Midfielder
If 2016 was the year Christian Pulisic broke into the U.S. Men’s National Team and Borussia Dortmund first team, 2017 was the young attacker’s coming out party, constantly producing for club and country. Pulisic was the MNT’s biggest offensive contributor in 2017, tallying six goals and four assists in nine matches. Either directly (goal or assist) or indirectly (earning a free kick, rebound on a shot), Pulisic was involved in 13 of the 17 goals scored during matches in which he played for the MNT in 2017. On the club front, Pulisic ended his first full season with the Borussia Dortmund first team by recording three goals and three assists in 25 matches across all competitions for the Bundesliga runners-up. Along with featuring for BVB in the UEFA Champions League, Pulisic topped the 2016-17 campaign by earning the game-winning penalty kick in Dortmund’s 2-1 victory against Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal Final on May 27. Pulisic has continued to be one of Dortmund’s most influential players this season.
Jordan Morris, Forward
After claiming Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year award and MLS Cup last year, Jordan Morris turned his attention towards bigger returns with the MNT, where he earned Man of the Match honors on three separate occasions in 2017. Morris came up big in the summer when he recorded a brace that included the game-winner in a 3-2 victory against Martinique during the Gold Cup Group Stage. The lone MNT player to appear in all six matches of the confederation championship, his biggest moment in a U.S. shirt came during the Final, when his 88th minute game-winner lifted the USA to a 2-1 victory against Jamaica and its sixth Gold Cup title. Morris finished tied for the most goals at the tournament and earned a spot on the Gold Cup Best XI. The young striker then capped his year when he provided a crucial 85th minute assist to Bobby Wood in the MNT’s 1-1 World Cup Qualifying draw at Honduras on Sept. 5. On the club front, Morris tallied three goals and an assist for Sounders FC, but days after providing Wood with the vital helper in Honduras, his regular season ended after suffering a hamstring injury in Seattle’s 1-1 draw vs. LA Galaxy on Sept. 10. Morris has worked his way back to fitness and will be available for duty in Seattle’s second-straight MLS Cup final appearance.
2017 YOUNG MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Tyler Adams, U-20 and MNT Midfielder
Entering his second professional season with the New York Red Bulls, Tyler Adams made waves for both club and country in 2017. Showing versatility to play on either wing and as a holding midfielder, Adams appeared in 10 of 12 matches for the U-20 MNT during the year, with four coming during the USA’s successful run to its first CONCACAF U-20 Championship title. Just 18, Adams was one of the youngest members on the U.S. U-20 World Cup squad and played in all five matches as the team drove to the quarterfinals in Korea Republic. Adams was impactful on the club front as well for New York Red Bulls. Playing in a variety of positions, the youngster found his place as a right wing back down the stretch for head coach Jesse Marsch, he recorded two goals and six assists in 32 matches across all competitions, helping the club to its first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final appearance since 2003 and the MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals. Still age eligible for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 18-year-old bookended his year by earning his first senior team cap, putting in a strong 90 minutes in the MNT’s 1-1 draw at Portugal on Nov. 14.
Luca de la Torre, U-20 MNT Midfielder
With three seasons in the youth setup at English League Championship side Fulham under his belt, de la Torre was a fixture on the left for the U-20 MNT in 2017. The winger began the year for the U.S. with a strong turn at the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, appearing in five matches and tallying the game-winning goal in a 4-1 Group Stage win vs. Haiti on Feb. 21. De la Torre also showed the ice in his veins when he slotted home his penalty kick in the USA’s shootout win against Honduras during the tournament Final on March 5. The San Diego native’s mark was felt immediately at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic. With the U.S. trailing Ecuador 2-0 after seven minutes, de la Torre set up Josh Sargent’s first goal before bravely tallying the equalizer in the fourth minute of stoppage time to hand Tab Ramos’ side a 3-3 draw. De la Torre would assist twice more in Korea, providing Sargent with the lone goal in a 1-0 victory against Senegal before dishing to Lagos Kunga in the USA’s 6-0 Round of 16 win vs. New Zealand. Full of confidence from his turn with the U-20 MNT, de la Torre has begun making the matchday 18 for Fulham during the new campaign and has gone on to earn three appearances so far this season.
Jonathan Gonzalez, U-20 MNT Midfielder
One of the youngest members of the USA’s CONCACAF U-20 Championship winning team, the central midfielder made two appearances for the U-20 MNT as the U.S. booked its ticket to Korea Republic. While Gonzalez wasn’t part of the World Cup squad, he has made significant gains in his first season with Liga MX side Monterrey. During the Apertura 2017 tournament, the 18-year-old appeared in 16 regular season matches as Los Rayados finished atop the table. A driving force in the center of the park, Gonzalez has continued to play in the Liga MX playoffs, appearing in all four matches as Los Rayados has made its way to the LIguilla Final vs. Tigres UANL.
Erik Palmer-Brown, U-20 MNT Defender/Midfielder
Erik Palmer-Brown served as captain during this year’s World Cup cycle. Normally a center back, the skipper showed his versatility as Tab Ramos utilized him as a holding midfielder during the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The decision paid dividends, as Palmer-Brown appeared in all six matches and scored the memorable game-winner in the USA’s 1-0 victory against rivals Mexico during the Classification Stage. The U.S. went on to win its first CONCACAF title at U-20 level, and Palmer-Brown was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. The 20-year-old then led the U.S. from a more familiar position in Korea Republic, anchoring the back line in all five matches during the U-20 MNT’s second consecutive run to the Quarterfinals. A Homegrown product for Sporting Kansas City, Palmer-Brown appeared in 12 matches across all competitions in 2017, also helping the side on their way to a fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. Having signed a pre-contract with English Premier League side Manchester City back in September, the talented defender is about to turn another page on his career as he heads to Europe in January.
Josh Sargent, U-17, U-20 MNT Forward
Already a leader with the high-scoring U-17 MNT, Sargent began a remarkable year when he captained the USA at the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. The O’Fallon, Mo., product was exceptional throughout the tournament, but caught the most attention when he tallied two goals and an assist in a wild, 4-3 comeback win against Mexico during the Group Stage. Finishing with five goals and two assists, Sargent led the U-17 MNT to a runner-up finish and qualification for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. Days later, he was named as the youngest player on the U.S. U-20 World Cup squad and proved vital in the USA’s run to the Quarterfinals as he scored two goals in the team’s opening 3-3 draw with Ecuador, the lone strike in a 1-0 win vs. Senegal and a goal and assist in the 6-0 Round of 16 win against New Zealand. With four goals and an assist, Sargent won the tournament’s Silver Boot as second best scorer and tied the U.S. record for goals at a FIFA U-20 World Cup. Sargent returned to captain the U-17 MNT during their World Cup, tallying the first goal in a tournament-opening 3-0 win vs. host India, before providing a goal and assist in an emphatic 5-0 victory vs. Paraguay in the Round of 16. While the U.S. fell 4-1 to eventual champions England in the Quarterfinals, Sargent’s lone strike in the match made more history, as he tied Freddy Adu for most goals scored by a U.S. player at youth World Cups with seven. Overall, Sargent finished the year with 15 goals and three assists in 17 international matches for the U-17 MNT. Weeks after his experience in India, the 17-year-old was summoned for the MNT’s year-end friendly against Portugal. While injury kept him from making his senior team debut, Sargent became the first U.S. player to be called up for the U-17, U-20 and MNT in the same year. Upon turning 18 in February, Sargent will begin his professional career when he signs with German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen.
Tim Weah, U-17 MNT Forward
The son of 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah, Tim has begun to make his own name in the game. Part of the Paris Saint-Germain youth setup, the New York-born Weah wasn’t in U-17 Residency, but still contributed in big ways to John Hackworth’s side. The forward appeared in all six matches for the U.S. at the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, tallying two goals and two assists, including the helper on Andrew Carleton’s goal against Mexico in the tournament Final. Having helped the U.S. qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Weah signed a professional contract with PSG before leaving for India. There, he appeared in all five matches and made waves when he tallied a historic hat trick in the USA’s 5-0 win against Paraguay in the Round of 16. With the U.S. falling to England at the Quarterfinal stage, Weah’s haul on the year ended with six goals and two assists in 13 matches. He’s since returned to France where he continues to gun for his first-team debut as he receives regular playing time with PSG II and the club’s U-19 side in the UEFA Youth League.
2017 DISABLED PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Michael Archer, Power Soccer National Team
Playing in his third FIPFA World Cup this summer, Michael Archer captained the Power Soccer National Team and led the squad to the tournament Final. Power soccer is the first sport developed for power wheelchair users of all ages, and Archer is considered one of the world’s best. He spearheaded the American attack at the World Cup, scoring 15 goals and notching 14 assists. The red, white and blue gave up just one goal in pool play and edged England in the semis before falling to France in the Final.
Sean Boyle, Goalkeeper, Paralympic National Team
Considered one of the best Paralympic goalkeepers in the world, Sean Boyle was the backbone of the USA’s impressive fifth-place run at the 2017 World Championships, compiling an 89 percent save percentage and two shutouts as the PNT took on three of the world’s top-four teams during its tournament run. Against eventual-champion Ukraine, Boyle had an outstanding 13-save performance and followed it up with a superb showing in the knockout round (dubbed one of the best matches in Paralympic soccer history) when the USA fell to England. Boyle made 14 saves to halt an English attack that entered averaging over eight goals per game. He was critical as the PNT finished the tournament with two victories against Brazil and Ireland to secure fifth place. Off the field, Boyle gives back to the game by working with Soccer in the Streets, a charity supporting homeless, under-served and refugee groups.
Drew Bremer, Paralympic National Team
A tireless worker known for lung-busting runs from the full-back position, Bremer is a member of the first-ever class of Paralympic soccer scholarship recipients at Clemson University. His ability to glide by players in the midfield allows him to create opportunities for others and he’s a solid, intelligent defender. A key component of the PNT’s run at the 2017 World Championships, he assisted on the equalizer and game-winning goal in the USA’s thrilling comeback win over No. 2 Brazil in the first classification stage and scored in a 5-0 victory over Northern Ireland in the group stage.
Kevin Hensley, Paralympic National Team
An outstanding 7-a-side midfielder capable of making box-to-box runs, Hensley captained the USA at the 2017 World Championships in Argentina, guiding the PNT to its best finish at a major world competition in the sport’s modern era. One of the PNT’s most lethal assist men, Hensley provided crucial set-ups on two of the USA’s biggest goals of the tournament: the opener to take the lead against England and the first goal of the classification stage comeback against Brazil. On a team that saw several newcomers in their first major tournament, Hensley provided an example of professionalism and led the team to new heights.