As far as U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year awards, the 2021 addition was among the more obvious honors.
Chelsea star Christian Pulisic lifted the European Cup for his club and led the United States men’s national team to a thrilling win over Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League to reclaim the federation’s top men’s honors from Weston McKennie.
Tyler Adams, Miles Robinson, and McKennie were also fantastic this season, while FC Dallas’ Ricardo Pepi won Young Male Player of the Year.
It’s Pulisic’s third such honor, having won the 2019 and 2017 awards after winning the 2016 Young Male Player of the Year. Landon Donovan has won the most with four, while Clint Dempsey and Kasey Keller are next with three.
New England’s Matt Turner finished second in the voting and Salzburg’s Brenden Aaronson was third. McKennie was clearly hampered by his off-field incident with the national team, because his club and country season was otherwise far and away more impressive than the other nominees not named Pulisic.
As for the women’s side, let’s start with Young Female Player of the Year… after the jump.
It feels unlikely that there’s been a young player on the women’s side more promising in recent seasons than Trinity Rodman — Yes, let’s get it out of the way: she is related to longtime NBA star Dennis Rodman — unless its runner-up Catarina Macario.
Does Rodman have elements of what Christian Pulisic brought to the men’s side? Sure, but the 19-year-old seems more likely to fall in the “next Alex Morgan” category. The 2021 Young Female Player of the Year reports for her honor on the heels of an NWSL Championship and Rookie of the Year season.
Macario, 22, is a two-time Hermann Trophy winner who is shining at Lyon in France. USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski has done little wrong on his watch, but getting Rodman and Macario meaningful on-field experience at the Olympics feels a tactical error.
Lindsey Horan, an elite and complete midfielder, wins the Female Player of the Year award, having won the Young Player honors in 2013. Horan reached the 100-cap mark this season, the newly-minted Centurion one of few USWNT players to shine in the run to capture bronze in Tokyo.
Carli Lloyd finished second in the voting, an emotional nod to a player with a fine career.