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USMNT Daily Update: Who is your Player of the Year?

U.S. Soccer announced on Monday evening the five finalists for U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year award, and the cast of candidates raises an interesting question about just who is most deserving of that honor.

The award is for contributions both to the national team and their club teams, a combination that kept four-time winner Landon Donovan off the ballot after a year that saw him play sparingly for the national team.

The five finalists for the award, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Herculez Gomez, Tim Howard and Fabian Johnson, all enjoyed strong seasons for both club and country, but the award this year is a two-horse race between Dempsey and Bradley.

On one side you have Bradley, who not only locked down the U.S. midfield and put together some truly outstanding performances (such as his showing in the national team’s win vs. Italy), but also became a regular in Serie A, and became the first U.S. national team starter to carry a regular role for a big Serie A team.

On the other side you have Clint Dempsey, who put together a record-breaking year with Fulham before making a successful move to Tottenham, where he has settled in as a regular.

His national team exploits included some of the biggest matches of the year, and some of the most important goals (such as the winner vs. Italy and the brace against Guatemala in the Hex-clinching victory).

It is tough not to look at Dempsey’s year and consider it one of the best and most complete in recent memory, which is why he is a good bet to beat out Bradley for the award despite Bradley putting together an outstanding year.

The rest of the finalists had good years, but fall a notch below the favorites. Truth be told, Fabian Johnson falls into an even lower tier. He had a good season on the club side, but isn’t on par with the other four players in either category. In fact, given Steve Cherundolo’s success with Hannover 96 last season, and some of his outstanding national team games in 2012, you can make an argument he has had a better all-around year than Johnson.

Tim Howard enjoyed another strong season for both club and country while Herculez Gomez helped Santos Laguna win a Mexican League title and reach the final of the CONCACAF Champions League, all while establishing himself as a regular starter for the national team. Both could have won in other years, but in 2012 they fall behind Dempsey and Bradley.

So here is our question for you. Who gets your vote for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year?

Cast your official vote on the U.S. Soccer Facebook page, but also cast your vote here:

  • Clint Dempsey
  • Michael Bradley
  • Tim Howard
  • Herculez Gomez

Who did you select? Who would you have put on the ballot that didn’t make it?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Since Cherundolo is not on the list, I went with Herculez Gomez! The Herc has been a revelation this year. The guy is an absolute battler and has come up pretty clutch for us this year. He is just the type of player that will not be intimidated and be able to score some goals for us on the road in qualifying and in Brasil 2014. In Herc we trust!

  2. Dempsey, no question. For people bringing up his transfer situation…that is completely irrelevant. All those goals he scored for Fulham and the USMNT. Relevant.

  3. I think MB90 has been better in his apperences w/ the Nats, but Dempsey had a record club year and scoring goals is scoring goal, while his Nats goals might not have been anything special, he is in the right spot etc/cant argue with goals.

    Cool to have multiple deserving players, I was a big for of Bob Bradley but I also really enjoy watching the style that JK is molding to current squad to play

      • AVB’s opinions carry as much weight with me as 3-0 leads against ManUtd when he’s coaching. Considering Spurs are tracking 2011 Chelsea and sliding from 4th last season to 7th this, I’d not assume he’ll be around forever to have an opinion that matters in a practical sense.

      • It’s a little premature to say Spurs have fallen to 7th. That may be there current position but the season is young. Dempsey hasn’t played great this year and neither have Spurs. They have several new players and to be honest are playing very selfish football.

        AVB’s job isn’t on the line yet. However,they can’t drop to many more games to the Wigans of the EPL.

      • Two game winning goals in away games. Best possessing “forward” they have (Ade better at hold-up, but not as good a passer) and does a lot of the gritty defensive work/chasing that Ade and Defoe don’t want to do.

        His role on Tottenham is different – shouldn’t be measured on goal production alone. Does a lot of the little things.

        Weren’t they undefeated (or close to it) with him and Dembele both on field?

  4. While the choice is Bradley or Dempsey, I thought Cherundolo deserved to be in the mix. It seems that no matter how valuable defenders are, they are seldom rated stars, but more should be.

  5. Dolo is consistently underapprciated. It really hit home when I re-watched USA v Guatemala. I don’t think he had a bad pass the entire game.

  6. My picks for Male Athlete of the Year: Dempsey first, Bradley a close second, with Steve Cherundolo further solidifying what was already a death-grip on the title of most underrated/underappreciated player in US Soccer history.

    If US Soccer had an award for “person of the year,” I’d give it to Bob Bradley.

  7. as much as i love the player bradley has become, rounded and consistent, dempsey beats him this year because of his finish with fulham, his whole club season was the best i’ve seen by an american field player at that level. i’d have to look at the stats to try and remember how vital howard has been, or how his club season finished, but my automatic feeling was that i didn’t feel indebted to him as much this year as i did in the last 3, from a usmnt perspective. still, i bring up bradley and howard because i know how solid they’ve been to club and country this year and think they are the only two which may have a possible legitimate argument for the title. for the young player of the year, which i think boils down to boyd or wiliams, i would vote williams for his crucial help in qualifying.

  8. Funny thing is that Dempsey, Bradley, and Herc are three of my four faves in terms of how that come to play, their skills, and a certain clutchness (The fourth is of course Donovan). That said, Dempsey’s club form was simply so good this year that I just have to pick him. Herc is a close second for me, given his productivity for club and country. I would submit that Mikey is, right now, the MVP of the Nats but for this year, counting both club and country, Dempsey just scored too often at too many big moments to not give it to him.

    (nice problem to have when LD’s ridiculously good play in MLS and Fabian Johnson’s breakout year are not really in competition. Oh, and that keeper is still pretty good too. And that 14-year veteran of Hanover and the Nats doesn’t suck either.)

  9. Far and away Dempsey. Big goals in big games and even meaningful goals in ties and losses. Howard and Bradley are proving themselves indispensable but not at the same level. Herc and Fabian might not even be in the XI when this is all said and done so those feel like they are included more to fill out a finalist list with all the positions.

    That Donovan is not even a finalist is shocking yet appropriate (based on this year). That’s one thing that popped out to me.

      • fabian is a top 11 player for us, no doubt. who can steal lb from him? chandler could possibly, but if dolo is still going strong in 2014, either chandler or johnson will play lb, and the other will play wide in the midfield–most likely on the left. that makes sense since our wings aren’t currently that strong. however, it would be nice to have either fabjo or chandler available off the bench to cover four/five positions adequately.

      • Do you believe Johnson is better than Dolo and Chandler? Can he play CB? Is he better at a mid position than anyone we have? I see him as 23 unless injured but XI? That’s more of “maybe” territory. I think people are forgetting how good Chandler is.

        I’m particularly amused that saying such things about a player who started 7 of his 8 US appearances is seen as shocking. Lol? He was the starting RB or LB for the second half of 2011, you know, roughly a year ago. Having been out sick, Johnson also cannot call upon incumbency in the same way. It’ll be a horse race and the best player will win out. I think there are worse things for the team than enough talent where few players are indispensable or guaranteed to start.

    • Lol at Fabian not being in the starting 11. Yes Fabian will be the starting LB for the USMNT for not only the forseeable future, but into the long term as well.

  10. I wasn’t terribly happy with Dempsey the way the trade went down from Fulham to whomever – oh! Spurs! on either the club or Clint’s handling of the situation. Hopefully it was a learning experience for him.

    However, I think if you put all five on the market again for a top flight team in Europe, the interest (and the moeny spent) would both be for Client. And I am a Bradley fan!

    • As a Fulham fan I found the Dempsey situation irksome (ditto the bandwagoners trading in FFC shirts for Spurs) — and I think the AVB Spurs era shouldn’t last much longer than he did at Chelsea, so god knows what he’s gotten himself into — but Dempsey was productive all season for the US including the Jamaica games where people were questioning his game coming off the window. So I’m learning to compartmentalize.

      • I, too, would trade my Fulham jersey (if I had one) for a Tottenham jersey (if I wanted to get one). It’s not that I’m a “bandwagoner”…I just support my boys. I have no allegiances to either club but I follow my USMNT boys wherever they go.

        Support != bandwagoning. There’s a difference.

    • I would vote for Dempsey in this year’s race, but the market analysis doesn’t work because they play different positions. If however, you are wiping out the rosters on said top flight teams, then sure go ahead and compare. Purely hypothetical, but if that’s the case, I think Bradley gets more interest than Clint (unless perhaps we ignore age).

      If you’re not wiping the rosters, then you are probably correct, but that’s only because the top flight teams have already made signing the world’s best central midfielders their top priority and are only willing to risk success or failure on players like Dempsey/Carroll/whomever is the hot player once the midfield has been locked down.


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