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 Player of the Year with a Disability 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.
Abby Dahlkemper, Defender
Dahlkemper was one of the most consistent players in the USWNT pool in 2020, playing in all nine games for the USWNT while leading the National Team in minutes played. For the North Carolina Courage, she also played every minute of four games at the NWSL Challenge Cup and every minute of four games during the Fall Series. She also scored from the penalty spot in the Fall Series. In 2020, Dahlkemper led the USWNT in minutes played for the second consecutive year while helping anchor defenses for both club and country with savvy professionalism, quality with and without the ball along and a big dose of grit. The USA allowed just one goal in nine games during the year.
Dunn started all nine games for the USA, the only player to do so in 2020, and finished second on the team in minutes played. Her form at outside back was once again stellar on both sides of the ball, proving extremely difficult to beat while consistently making dynamic forays down the flank, sending in dangerous crosses and playing an important role to the USA’s attack. She was the only player to start all five games at the Olympic Qualifying tournament and was just one minute shy of tying for most minutes played in the tournament. At the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, Dunn played a big part in helping shut down some of the world’s top attackers as the USA won all three games. The USA allowed just one goal in nine games during the year. At the NWSL Challenge Cup, Dunn played in five games for the North Carolina Courage, starting four and tallying one goal. She was traded to Portland Thorns FC on Oct. 22.
Lindsey Horan, Midfielder
Horan not only tied for the USWNT lead in scoring for 2020 with seven goals (a career high in a calendar year for her, and from the midfield no less), she also finished with three assists for the USA in 2020 and was one of the top performers in both the NWSL Challenge Cup and the Fall Series for Portland Thorns FC. She was named to the All-Tournament Team for the Challenge Cup and scored two goals with three assists over both competitions. Horan scored in four out of the five matches at the Olympic Qualifying tournament, which included her first career hat trick (tallied against Panama), led the USA in goals in the competition (with six) and finished second in scoring overall at the tournament. At the SheBelieves Cup, she scored a crucial clinching goal in the USA’s 3-1 win vs. Japan.
Samantha Mewis, Midfielder
Mewis continued her ascent into one of the world’s best two-way midfielders by playing in eight games and scoring four goals with one assist for the USWNT in 2020. Her goals came in back-to-back braces during the Olympic Qualifying tournament against Costa Rica and Mexico. Mewis put in an strong performance at the NWSL Challenge Cup, playing in all five games for the North Carolina Courage before making a move to England and Manchester City in early August. Over 14 matches in the league, FA Cup and Continental Cup, she has shown to be one of the best midfielders in the league while scoring four times. She helped Man City win the delayed FA Cup with a 3-1 victory over Everton on Nov. 1. In that match at Wembley Stadium, she became the third American, and second American woman, to score in an FA Cup Final, joining Carli Lloyd (2017) and Christian Pulisic (2020). She also scored the game-winner in the first leg of City's 2-1 Round of 32 UEFA Women's Champions League match at Göteborg in Sweden.
Christen Press, Forward
Press was one of three players to play in all nine games in 2020 and tied for the team lead in scoring with Lindsey Horan with seven goals and three assists. She scored five goals in five games at Olympic Qualifying, including two vs. Costa Rica, and was awarded the Golden Ball at the conclusion of that tournament. At the SheBelieves Cup, Press unleashed two remarkable strikes from distance, one each against England and Japan. Both were game-winners and highlight reel finishes, the first breaking a 0-0 deadlock with the Lionesses. In the USA’s final game of the year on Nov. 27 against Holland in the Netherlands, she assisted on Rose Lavelle’s game-winner. She did not feature in the NWSL Challenge Cup but moved to Manchester United in early September and has helped the Reds to the top of the FA Women’s Super League table by scoring once in six league games so far.
Tyler Adams, Midfielder
After missing much of last year due to injury, the 21-year-old returned stronger than ever for RB Leipzig in 2020, appearing in 26 matches across all competitions and scoring one very big goal during the calendar year. The central midfielder and sometimes right back was strong down the stretch following the Bundesliga’s return to play in May, helping his side finish third and earn a place in the next UEFA Champions League. Still with business to finish in the 2019-20 edition, Adams made history when he smashed home the 88th minute game-winner in RB Leipzig’s 2-1 quarterfinal win against Atlético Madrid on Aug. 13 in Lisbon. The goal wrote Adams’ name in history for both club and country, pushing RB Leipzig into its first UEFA Champions League semifinal while becoming the U.S. player to score deepest in the prestigious European competition. The Wappingers Falls, N.Y. native has picked up right where he left off in the new campaign, with RB Leipzig having already booked a ticket into the Champions League Round of 16 and the club sitting third in the Bundesliga.
Adams also made two USMNT appearances in 2020, earning his first cap in over a year during the USA’s 0-0 draw with Wales on Nov. 12 and working a strong shift in the center of the park in the 6-2 win against Panama on Nov. 16. Previously a finalist for Male Player of the Year in 2018, this is Adams’ second nomination for the award.
Sergiño Dest, Defender
One of two Male Player of the Year nominees to make high-profile moves this summer, defender Sergiño Dest has appeared in 25 club matches and scored one goal during 2020. When the year began, he was in the midst of his first full campaign with the Ajax senior team,
helping the Dutch giants work towards another Eredivisie title before the global pandemic forced a shutdown and the eventual cancelation of the season. Rumored to transfer during the summer, Dest made a few more appearances for Ajax before agreeing a $25M move to FC Barcelona in October 1. The transfer was the second-most expensive for a U.S. player after Christian Pulisic, and Dest has impressed since his arrival at Camp Nou were he became the first American to appear for the storied Catalan club. Thus far, he’s featured in 12 matches – including five Champions League contests – and scored the game-winner in Barca’s 4-0 Champions League defeat of Dynamo Kyiv on Nov. 24.
After tying his future to the United States last November, it took another year for Dest to appear for the USMNT. The ambidextrous full back turned out on the right for the USMNT’s 0-0 draw with Wales on Nov. 12 and then on the left four days later against Panama. The 2019 Young Player of the Year, Dest is a first-time finalist for Male Player of the Year in 2020.
Weston McKennie, Midfielder
The other Male Player of the Year nominee to split 2020 between two clubs, McKennie amassed a combined 27 appearances along with four goals and an assist for Schalke and Juventus this season. The midfielder was a constant in the lineup for Schalke, appearing in 15 of 16 Bundesliga matches during the calendar year and helping Die Knappen stave off relegation from the German top-flight. With a high-profile loan move to Juventus in August, McKennie slotted straight into Andrea Pirlo’s starting XI for the club’s season opener three weeks later. The dominant midfielder has provided a forceful presence for the Bianconeri thus far, appearing in 11 matches across all competitions, including five in the Champions League where he helped Juventus advance to the Round of 16. McKennie has two goals in his last two matches for Juventus, becoming just the third American to score in Serie A when his 80th minute header sparked a 2-1 comeback win against Torino in the Derby della Mole on the weekend before his stunning acrobatic striker in Juve’s 3-0 Champions League win against Barcelona on Tuesday.
McKennie made two appearances for the USMNT in 2020, winning Insiders Man of the Match honors in the 0-0 draw with Wales on Nov. 12 before helping the USA to a 6-2 rout of Panama on Nov. 16. This is the third-consecutive year McKennie has been a finalist for Male Player of the Year.
Jordan Morris, Forward
One of the most dominant attacking players in Major League Soccer, Jordan Morris had a career-year for Seattle Sounders FC in 2020. Appearing in 22 regular season matches, Morris put up 10 goals and eight assists – the combined total of 18 standing as second-most league wide behind only 2020 MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo (19). Morris registered either a goal or assist in 11 of his 22 regular season appearances. The Mercer Island, Wash. native particularly stood out with a goal and three assists in Seattle’s 7-1 trouncing of San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 10. Morris helped the Sounders finish second in the Western Conference, setting up the club’s continued postseason supremacy. Morris has played all but one minute for Seattle in the MLS Cup Playoffs, registering a goal and assist in the club’s 3-1 win against LAFC in the first round on Dec. 7 . In Tuesday’s Western Conference Final, Morris helped the side to a 3-2 comeback victory against Minnesota United FC and a place in the MLS Cup Final for the fourth time in five seasons.
Morris is one of two finalists not to appear for the USMNT in 2020. The 26-year-old was part of the team’s January Camp, but departed early to take part in the Concacaf Champions League with Seattle. Previously up for the award in 2017 and 2019, this is Morris’s third nomination as Male Player of the Year.
Christian Pulisic, Forward
An abductor tear suffered early in the year kept Pulisic out of the Chelsea lineup until after the Premier League’s return to play, but the mercurial attacker came back with something to prove in the summer. Pulisic scored in his first two matches back – matching 2-1 wins against Aston Villa (June 21) and Manchester City (June 25) – sparking a return to the field which saw the U.S. forward reiterate his importance to the Chelsea attack, helping the club secure a fourth-place finish and Champions League football the following season. Pulisic made more history on Aug. 1 when he opened the scoring the FA Cup Final, becoming the first USMNT player to find the back of the net in the prestigious cup competition’s championship match. A hamstring strain suffered later that game saw him out of the early part of the new season, but his importance to the club remained clear when he was awarded the No. 10 shirt for the 2020-21 campaign. Returning to the field on Oct. 3 against Crystal Palace, the 22-year-old has registered two goals in eight appearances during the new campaign. His strike in the 4-0 Champions League win against Krasnodar tied him with DaMarcus Beasley for the all-time scoring lead among Americans in the UCL, while his latest goal last weekend against Leeds United made him the fastest U.S. player to reach double-digit Premier League goals. Overall, Pulisic has amassed seven goals and two assists in 21 matches for Chelsea during 2020.
The Hershey, Pa. product is one of two finalists not to appear for the USMNT in 2020, the attacker suffering a slight hamstring injury just before the team’s November camp in Europe. This is Pulisic’s third nomination for the U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year award, having previously won in 2017 and 2019. He also won Young Male Player of the Year in 2016.
Gyasi Zardes, Forward
The Columbus Crew SC striker remained consistent in his offensive production, amassing 14 goals and five assists in 24 competitive matches this season. A constant goal threat since his 2018 arrival in Columbus, his 12 regular season goals led all U.S.-eligible forwards for the second time in the last three MLS campaigns, and played a vital role in lifting the club to the fourth-best regular season record and qualification to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
His postseason play has been stellar, providing the game-winning goal in the Crew’s 3-2 first round victory against New York Red Bulls on Nov. 21. In the Conference Semifinal clash with Nashville SC, Zardes dished the game-winning assist to Pedro Santos in the 99th minute, before icing the match with a 103rd minute strike of his own.
The veteran forward made one USMNT appearance in 2020, entering as a substitute in the USA’s 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1. Zardes is a finalist for Male Player of the Year for a second-straight year.
Note: When the sports world shut down in March of 2020, so did the U.S. Youth National Team programing. It has yet to return. But before it did, the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team ran roughshod over their opponents at the 2020 Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship and the three nominees for the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year played a big part in that team winning all seven games by a 44-1 scoring margin. It was their only activity of the year. In mid-November, FIFA announced that the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup would not be held due to the pandemic, but that should not diminish the brightness of these rising stars below.
Mia Fishel, Forward
A center forward who proved equally adept playing back to goal, running behind the defense or smashing in goals in the penalty area, Fishel torched the competition at the Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship, scoring 13 goals in six games, a record for any U.S. Youth National Team player in a Concacaf competition. She scored in every game she played in, including multiple goal games in five of those contests. She also had two assists in the tournament. Fishel scored four times in the opening game win vs. Cuba and didn’t look back, eventually scoring twice in the 4-1 championship game victory against Mexico. Her college season for UCLA in Pac-12 was postponed to the Spring so she did not play in a college match this Fall. In October, Fishel was called into her first U.S. Women’s National Team training camp, which took place in Colorado.
Naomi Girma, Defender
Girma, who played a major part in helping Stanford win the NCAA Championship in 2019 as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was the leader of the U.S. defense during the 2020 Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship. She started six games during the World Cup qualifying tournament and finished third on the team in minutes played while marshalling a back line that played an instrumental part in allowing just one goal. The USA went 545 shutout minutes in the tournament before allowing that score. In her second and final U-20 cycle, Girma was the third most experienced player on the team with 31 U-20 international caps. Her college season for Stanford was postponed to the Spring so she did not play in a college match this Fall. In October, she attended her first full U.S. Women’s National Team training camp, which took place in Colorado.
Trinity Rodman, Forward
Rodman teamed with Fishel on the U-20 USWNT front line to form a devasting partnership, scoring eight goals of her own during Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship. Rodman also picked up six assists to lead the team, giving her a direct role in 14 of the team’s 44 goals during the competition, the most by any player except Fishel. Showing tremendous physicality and speed, along with a lethal finishing touch inside the box, Rodman caused major problems for all the USA’s opponents during the World Cup qualifying tournament. She didn’t open her account until the third game, but then scored four times against Honduras and came through when the matches mattered the most, scoring twice in both the semifinal and final. Her college season for Washington State in Pac-12 was postponed to the Spring so she did not play in a college match this Fall.
Brenden Aaronson, Midfielder
After breaking in to the Philadelphia Union’s starting lineup last year, Brenden Aaronson broke out in a big way this year as he evolved into one of the USA’s most exciting young attacking midfield prospects and helped lead his club to its first trophy in the the MLS Supporters Shield. The youngest player named to the 2020 MLS Best XI, the Medford, N.J. native served as an integral part of Philly’s phenomenal season, starting 23 games while scoring four goals and putting up seven assists. This fall, Aaronson secured the highest transfer fee ever recorded for a U.S.-based homegrown player when the Union agreed to send him to Red Bull Salzburg, a perennial Austrian Bundesliga title contender and UEFA Champions League contestant. The midfielder earned his first cap with the full Men’s National Team as part of the Starting XI for its February friendly vs. Costa Rica, a 1-0 victory. Named to the U-23 USMNT squad for March’s Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Aaronson returned to the National Team in December as part of the U.S. senior squad called to take on El Salvador.
Mark McKenzie, Defender
Captain of the U-20 USMNT during its quarterfinal run at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and a key part of the U-23 USMNT last fall, Mark McKenzie took the next step for club and country in 2020. The young center back became a fixture on the Philadelphia Union’s back line, anchoring the Union to Major League Soccer’s best regular season record and its first-ever trophy in the Supporter’s Shield. McKenzie started 22 games for the Union this year, scoring two goals and adding three assists while earning MLS Best XI honors. Called to his second senior team training camp in January, McKenzie made his full international debut as a substitute in the USMNT’s 1-0 February friendly victory against Costa Rica. Selected to represent the U-23 USMNT at the 2020 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, McKenzie was called back to the senior squad for its December training camp and match vs. El Salvador.
McKenzie was previously nominated for the Young Male Player of the Year award in 2018 after a standout showing at that year’s Concacaf U-20 Men’s Championship, where he earned Best XI honors.
Yunus Musah, Midfielder
Born in New York City, Yunus Musah exploded onto the American soccer scene this fall when he earned a call-up to his first U.S. National Team camp after starting to make regular appearances with La Liga power Valencia in Spain. In his first involvement with the USA at any level, Musah impressed immediately, starting both of the USMNT’s November friendlies vs. Wales and Panama to become the first U.S. player under 18 years old to start two matches for the National Team. After spending last season with Valencia’s reserves, the midfielder has become a regular contributor with the first team this season, making 11 appearances and scoring a stellar goal. The youngest player to take the field for Los Murciélagos this season, Musah recently signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club through 2026 and looks poised to continue making an even bigger impact as the La Liga campaign continues.
Gio Reyna, Forward
After a decorated career in the U.S. Youth National Team set-up, Gio Reyna made massive strides for both club and country in 2020. The young forward made his long-awaited senior USMNT debut in November’s match against Wales, as he and midfielder Yunus Musah became just the 12th and 13th players to earn their first cap under the age of 18, and scoring his first goal for the USA on a free kick against Panama just a few days later. Reyna turned heads as he broke in with German Bundesliga powerhouse Borussia Dortmund this winter, netting a spectacular goal in his DFB-Polkal debut and playing an instrumental part in his first UEFA Champions League appearance as he had a hand in both goals of Dortmund’s 2-1 win vs. Paris-St. Germain in the Round of 16. After playing his way into 15 appearances during the second half of the 2019-20 season, Reyna has begun to earn a regular spot in the Starting XI at Signal Iduna Park. This season, he’s played in 10 league games for Dortmund while scoring two goals and has logged minutes in all six of the club’s Champions League matches.
Reyna was previously nominated for the award in 2018 and 2019 after playing a leading role for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team during its 2018-19 cycle.
Chris Richards, Defender
After garnering attention as one of the 10 players to watch at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Chris Richards’ career continued to progress in 2020. The promising young center back prospect made his senior USMNT debut in November, coming on as a substitute against Panama. A native of Alabama, Richards joined German super-club Bayern Munich in July 2018 and finally made his debut for the reigning UEFA Champions League champion at the end of the 2019-20 Bundesliga season. He’s already played six games for Bayern across all competitions during the 2020-21 campaign, including two substitute appearances in the Champions League. Last season, Richards locked down the back line for Bayern Munich II as it topped the 3.Liga table, starting 30 of the team’s 38 matches and scoring four goals.
Richards was previously nominated for the award in 2019 after helping lead the U-20 USMNT to the quarterfinals at that year’s U-20 World Cup.
Adam Ballou - U.S. Para 7-a-Side National Team
A long-time difference-maker for the U.S. Para 7-a-Side National Team and the 2016 U.S. Soccer Player of the Year with a Disability, forward Adam Ballou made history for the USPNT program when he moved overseas to play at Spanish club Levante. Ballou became the first PNT player to ply his trade overseas and play in a foreign Para soccer league. Before the season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, Ballou led Levante in scoring and boosted the team to second in the league. Ballou has also used his time in Spain to work towards his goal of becoming a diplomat and comes after an illustrious career with the PNT, scoring in a number of major tournaments with the USA. Last year, he netted at both of the PNT’s major tournaments- the 2019 IFCPF World Cup and the 2019 ParaPan-American Games. Ballou also showed out at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, bagging a brace against the Netherlands that included a last-minute equalizer.
CP Soccer Youth Players - CP Soccer
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of youth soccer players had their seasons interrupted and put on hold. The problem was even more paramount in programs for players with cerebral palsy. As a response, CP Soccer put on virtual training sessions for youth players across the country. An average of more than 30 kids a day participated five days a week for 11 weeks during the height of stay-at-home orders nationwide. In total, CP Soccer delivered over 100 hours of training led by Director Ashley Hammond and his son Shea Hammond, a player on the U.S. Para 7-a-Side National Team. Players were joined by a star-studded list of U.S. Soccer guests, including President Cindy Parlow Cone, Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter and MNT forward Jordan Morris. The program culminated in two global tournaments via Zoom that drew hundreds of participants and thousands of viewers.
Jordan Dickey – U.S. National Power Soccer Team
Co-captain of the U.S. National Power Soccer Team, Jordan Dickey is one of the squad’s most decorated players. Last fall, he was named to the team’s roster for 2021 Power Soccer World Cup, which has been delayed to 2022. Born with Distal Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Dickey has used a power chair since the age of three and has racked up an abundance of accolades in his Power Soccer career- helping the team to a World Cup championship in 2011 and a silver medal in 2017. He’s been named Most Valuable Player twice, in 2014 and 2018. Dickey participated in the Power Soccer Team’s January training camp before the rest of the squad’s programming was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the club level, Dickey plays for Indianapolis’ RHI Sudden Impact.