CHICAGO (Nov. 28, 2018) – U.S. Soccer has announced the nominees for the 2018 Young Male, Young Female and Player of the Year with a Disability awards. Voting for the candidates begins Nov. 28 and closes on Dec. 6 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The winner will be announced during the first week of December.
The Young Male Player of the Year field showcases a number of rising stars who have played for the U.S. Men’s Youth National Teams this year. Midfielder Alex Mendez took home the Golden Ball at the 2018 Concacaf Under-20 Championship as the tournament’s best player at just 18-years-old, helping the USA take home its second-straight confederation title. Forward Ulysses Llanez was one of the U-20 MNT’s most-dynamic attacking players at the regional championship, scoring seven goals in six games, while defender Mark McKenzie locked down the back line as the U-20s’ minutes leader in 2018 in addition to a breakout professional campaign with the Philadelphia Union. Midfielder Giovanni Reyna stands as a key figure for the U-17 MNT as it prepares for the 2018 Nike International Friendlies and he spent this summer leading New York City FC U-18/19 to its first U.S. Soccer Development Academy Championship in its first season fielding a team at the age group. Forward Tyler Freeman helped guide the U-16 Boys’ National Team to success at the Torneo delle Nazioni in Gradisca, Italy while also signing one of the youngest Homegrown contracts in MLS history with Sporting KC.
The Young Female Player of the Year field features a group of talented players who have all seen time with U.S. Youth Women’s National Teams this year. Defender Tierna Davidson played with the U.S. U-20 WNT early in 2018 before transitioning to the senior National Team and earned her first 12 caps. U.S. U-17 WNT forward Sunshine Fontes set the U-17 all-time career goal-scoring record this year, while U.S. U-17 WNT midfielder Maya Doms scored the game-winning goal in the title game of the Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship, and U.S. U-17 WNT midfielder Sophia Jones was the team’s field general at defensive midfield. Rounding out the nominees is forward Allyson Sentnor, who despite being age eligible for the U.S. U-14 Girls’ National Team this year, played up for the USA’s U-15 and U-16 GNTs and U-17 WNT.
This year’s Player of the Year with a Disability field features Braden Anderson, an up-and-coming midfielder for the Deaf Men’s National Team; Nico Calabria, a forward and goal-scoring captain for the Amputee National Team; Gracie Fitzgerald, a scoring defender for the Deaf Women’s National Team; and Nick Mayhugh, an all-around midfielder for the Para 7-a-side National Team.
Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2018, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, select media members and former players and administrators.
Players cannot win the Young Male or Young Female award more than once.
The award for Young Player of the Year was first awarded in 1998 with Josh Wolff and Cindy Parlow (a 2018 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee), winning for Young Male and Young Female, respectively. The Player of the Year with a Disability award was first given in 2012 with Felicia Schroeder earning the honor.