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Altidore, Donovan and Howard finalists for Honda player of the year award

Landon Donovan 3 (

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Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan and Tim Howard have been named finalists for the 2009 Honda Player of the Year award, given each year to the U.S. national team player of the year.

Donovan has won it two years in a row, and five of the past seven years, while Tim Howard is a finalist for the third straight year. Donovan beat out Howard in 2008 in a year when Howard was widely regarded as the U.S. team's best player (Howard received the U.S. Soccer male athlete of the year award in 2008).

The Honda Award was once the clear-cut most prestigious award available to U.S. national team players, but the over-sized voter pool (made up this year of 221 "sports journalists") has caused the Honda Award to fall behind the U.S. Soccer player of the year award in terms of prestige.

This year's Honda Award race is tougher to call, with all three finalists deserving of consideration. We'll give our vote to Howard, whose performances throughout qualifying and in the Confederations Cup were stellar. Donovan is the clear favorite to win a third straight award and would be a deserving choice (and arguably has a stronger case this year than in 2008, when he won his record fifth Honda Award). Altidore has enjoyed a breakout year for the national team, leading the team in World Cup qualifying goals, but he is likely to finish third out of this group.

Here is your chance to vote. Who do you think has been this year's U.S. national team player of the year?

Who did you vote for? Why did you pick the player you picked? Which player should have been a finalist that didn't make the list?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I really don’t think you can go wrong with Howard or Donovan this year. Donovan has played some good games, he seems to have benefited from moving back into midfield and playing with the two young forwards. Howard has made some spectacular saves, keeping the opponents out of the nets and the momentum on the US’s side. Two great players this year.

  2. Wow. what a race! as of midnight PST:

    Timmy: 44%

    Land-O: 43%

    jozy: 11%

    I vote Landon Donovan! amazing player. as for all the stats perviously stated, plus the climax: Espana game was incredible. you need your best man to go above and beyond, and Landon did that and more – he was amazing. It truly was a joy to see him play THAT good. he played out of his skin. he had blazing speed. he played his best against the best (Espana is the best in the world hands-down). wow!

  3. Oh yeah, my pick …

    H O W A R D !

    The best player on our team. PERIOD. We don;t win games without him. Heck! We don’t even draw games w/o him.

    I know the US is a “Keeper” factory. BUT it is a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong drop off from “Timmie” to the “Goose”!

  4. “221 “sports journalists” ”

    Dudes, that’s not a lot of Journalists. That’s less than 5 serious soccer writers in each state. Not even close to too many!

    Sounds like some “elitism” BS. If we took out TWENTY states (Maine, Idaho, Rhode Island, Alaska, etc. ) that’s just over 7 dedicated journalists for the remaining 30. Surely there are that many dedicated “journalists” dedicated to quality coverage of the Nats.

    220-something sounds like a very, very small sampling of opinions and analyst to vote on this award.

  5. My bad. I don’t know what I was thinking. I forgot the award is for National Team play only. They really should call it the NATIONAL TEAM player of the year award, I’ve forgotten, over time, that it’s limited to National Team play. Obviously Donovan is the right choice. I think they need to make the league MVP award a little more glamorous and rewarding. Then maybe Donovan will want that more.

  6. @ aristotle

    Donovan has been showing up for these WC qualifiers and not to mention the confederation cup. The award takes into account national team games and not club games.

  7. Honda Player of the Year is ONLY FOR NATIONAL TEAM PLAY. What anyone does in MLS or EPL or La Liga or whereever doesn’t matter.

    It’s only what you’ve done for the US National Team. And Donovan has been the man this year. Scoring or assisting on 14 out of 18 goals. That’s unreal. Not to mention how he leads the team in other ways. He wins the award.

  8. I’m a little puzzled at how some people are making their decision. Realistically, shouldn’t Howard be the obvious, if not fun, choice?

    Donovan just doesn’t show up for too many games, and I don’t mean physically. After finally having a great year again in MLS, he drops off again this year. He is absolutely nowhere near the lead in goalscoring or assists. If he is so good why is it that he rarely dominates in a sub par league? Does international play really offset all of that?

  9. How did Dempsey get the Bronze at the Cnfederations? I believe FIFA has an official scoring system; called the Castrol FIFA System. actually Lucio from Brazil was the most highly rated player. Dempsey was actually rated #2. So Deuce should have recieved the Silver and Lucio the Gold.

  10. You can make a great case for Howard as the MVP. But I wouldnt vote for him because he is a keeper. Landon gets my vote. That goal against Brazil was amazing. He is the greatest US player ever. tragedy is that there is no one on the horizon who could match hs quality. Why?

  11. Ives,

    I want to order a National Team jersey and I want to get a name and number that I will be proud to wear and will mean something for a long time. Who do I get?

  12. “I know a lot of people are down on Dempsey’s performance of late but how is the guy that won the Bronze Ball at the Confed Cup and is I believe the second leading scorer in qualifying not a finalist.”


    Because it was a joke that he got the award over Donovan. Clearly the majority of voters did not watch the early games when Dempsey was pretty invisible. When they gave it to Dempsey my thought was, “Wow, does that mean Donovanis getting the Golden Ball?”

  13. easy decision. I love you Howard but my vote is to Donovan.

    Imagine the team without Howard. Could we replace him? To an extent i believe so since we are deep in goalkeeper talent (shoot man if Howard was injured heading into the world cup, im sure Freidel will come out of retirement for the sake of his country if we all begged)

    Now imagine the team without Donovan. Could we replace him? Answer: Nope. He is undeniably the core of our team. He is the reason why Altidore and co are getting so many goals.

  14. Hate on Dempsey comes from high expectations which are a result of his CLUTCH performances.
    I too have a man crush on Jozy, but Clint deserves to be in contention.

  15. Landycakes has become elite in the last year. He is now playing consistently at a higher level than he ever has. Howard I thought has looked weaker this past year. I felt a couple of the goals that he let in were his fault, even though many of my soccer friends who are infatuated with him, seem to think that Howard never makes mistakes in goal. I disagree. Landy is my choice.

  16. And as far as Dempsey getting the Bronze Ball at the Confed Cup…..everyone and their sister – not to mention members of the US National Team themselves who talked about it – know that Donovan should have won that award, not Dempsey. Donovan brought it in every game. not so Dempsey.

  17. Donovan, hands down. He accounts for 80 to 90% of all goals scored. And he has led the team in effort and “bringing it” the entire year, even when everyone else was absent.

  18. Ives, how are these “sports journalists” selected? are they even soccer journalists? why did you put sports journalists in quotes?

    (SBI-I put it in quotes because that’s how the Honda Award folks described them. Seemed like a vague description. And let’s face it, anybody think there are 221 sports journalists in this country who know enough about American soccer to deserve a vote on an alledgedly prestigious award? As for how they’re chosen, I haven’t the slightest idea. Might just be a list of anybody in the country who has attended a soccer match as media. Either way, it’s entirely too many people and it diminishes the award in my opinion.)

  19. classic argument: What will win you more matches? Goal scorer or defensive wall? I have a keeper bias, so Timmy for me. Couldn’t go wrong with Lando, though. I think he’s had his best year. I don’t really care as long as both are on in the last two qualifiers and on in SA 2010.

  20. I picked Jozy- not because Timmy or Donovan are undeserving, but because Altidore gave us what we needed more than either Timmy or Donovan could. Donovan’s always been there, and Timmy is in a long line of very good keepers- we haven’t had a ‘good’ forward since McBride. I’m so glad to have Altidore out there, that I’ll give him my vote.

  21. I wanted to vote for Timmy, who really deserved it last year. But Donovan has been unreal this year, his best yet. Not to mention, he’s done a much better job of showing up as a leader in big games (H1N1 notwithstanding). If he won last year, there’s no way he doesn’t take it again.

  22. If value to the MNT is considered, I think it has to be Donovan. Which would have been worse for the MNT through qualifying and the Confed Cup: Howard misses all the games or Donovan misses all the games. I don’t think it’s even close.

    If it’s a question of quality, I think it’s probably Howard. He’s the only US player who could arguably earn a starting role for the top teams in the world.

    Posted by: SoccerJohn | September 30, 2009 at 01:28 PM

    I have a better scenerio. If a knockout game cam down to PK’s would you rather have Donovan taking one of the PK’s or Howard between the pipes?

    I pick Howard everyday of the week.

  23. If value to the MNT is considered, I think it has to be Donovan. Which would have been worse for the MNT through qualifying and the Confed Cup: Howard misses all the games or Donovan misses all the games. I don’t think it’s even close.

    If it’s a question of quality, I think it’s probably Howard. He’s the only US player who could arguably earn a starting role for the top teams in the world.

  24. BTW may vote is Howard. He comes up with big saves almost everygame and I think that tends to be overshadowed by Donovan sometime who can be considered a man of the match for one or two good passes.

  25. I know a lot of people are down on Dempsey’s performance of late but how is the guy that won the Bronze Ball at the Confed Cup and is I believe the second leading scorer in qualifying not a finalist.

  26. I have a man crush on Jozy Altidore just as much as anyone, but should he really be 1 of 3 finalists?

    He hasn’t really gotten any club time over the past calendar year……..but has made some big contributions to the National Team.

    I would think that these “sports journalists” would try to take into account a candidates National Team and Club Team successes, no?

    Or is this a case of to many journalists, most of which didn’t follow the sport/players previous to the Spain game?

    (SBI-The award is supposed to just factor in national team performances, not club performances. As for the voting pool, it’s always been large but it’s really gotten pretty absurd over the years and it’s tough to take seriously. At least with the U.S. male athlete of the year award the voting pool is much more selectively chosen.)

  27. think about how many games Jozy has been amazing in.. quite a few

    now think about how many games Jozy has been relatively invisible i.. ya a few

    now think about how many games Landon has not been the leader in both the attack and the midfield defence? … none; player of the year!


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