In what has to be one of the more embarrassing results in American soccer award history, Landon Donovan has been named the 2008 Honda Player of the Year, beating out Tim Howard in a vote that can best described as a bad joke.
The announcement marked Donovan’s fifth Honda Player of the Year award, and while he has certainly earned many of those, the 2008 prize will go down as the clearest example of a flawed voting set-up that has culminated in a result that has to diminish the credibility of a once-prestigious award.
Created by Futbol de Primera, the Honda Award is voted on by 213 "journalists across America." Now you find me even half that many soccer journalists who cover the U.S. national team with any legitimacy and you too can have a prize.
The voting wasn’t even that close. Donovan finished with 297 points while Tim Howard received 249 points. Clint Dempsey finished third with 176 points.
While Donovan does deserve credit for breaking the national team’s career goal-scoring record, his contibutions to the national team this year were well below his normal standard and it can be argued that he shouldn’t have even been a finalist, with Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra having had stronger years for the national team.
So what went wrong? The easy explanation is that Futbol de Primera has given out ballots to an inordinate number of journalists, many of whom don’t even cover the national team, and apparently some who must not even follow the team all that closely.
The reality is that as far as national team player of the year awards go, U.S. Soccer’s official player of the year award is considered far more legitimate and is voted on by a select number of media (and by select I mean much fewer than 213).
What do you think of Donovan being named Honda Player of the Year?: