Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Alejandro Bedoya, Alexi Lalas, Brek Shea, Carlos Bocanegra, Chris Wondolowski, Clarence Goodson, Claudio Reyna, Clint Dempsey, Cobi Jones, Earnie Stewart, Eddie Pope, Eric Lichaj, Eric Wynalda, Futbol de Primera Player of the Year, Hugo Perez, Jermaine Jones, Jonathan Spector, Jose Torres, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Kasey Keller, Kyle Beckerman, Landon Donovan, Marcelo Balboa, Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Oguchi Onyewu, Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan, Steve Cherundolo, Thomas Dooley, Tim Howard, Tim Ream, Timmy Chandler, U.S. National Team
Some 200 journalists from across the nation are submitting ballots to decide which U.S. National Team member will be the 2011 Futbol de Primera Player of the Year.
Sponsored by FDP, the exclusive radio broadcaster of the 2014 World Cup in the United States, the award–the most prestigious annual honor in American soccer–goes to the best player who appeared in at least three matches for the U.S. in the calendar year. Those who qualified are Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Eric Lichaj, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Tim Ream, Robbie Rogers, Brek Shea, Jonathan Spector, Jose Torres and Chris Wondolowski.
First place selections receive three points, second place two points and third place one.
Past winners of the award, until recently known as the Honda Player of the Year: Hugo Perez, 1991; Eric Wynalda, 1992; Thomas Dooley, 1993; Marcelo Balboa, 1994; Alexi Lalas, 1995; Wynalda, 1996; Eddie Pope, 1997; Cobi Jones, 1998; Kasey Keller, 1999; Claudio Reyna, 2000; Earnie Stewart, 2001; Landon Donovan, 2002; Donovan, 2003; Donovan, 2004; Keller, 2005; Clint Dempsey, 2006; Donovan, 2007; Donovan, 2008; Donovan, 2009; Donovan, 2010. [October 21]
Comment: Who would you vote for? Let us know.
Last year’s vote from here got it wrong. Donovan won, with Bradley the runner-up and Dempsey the third-place finisher. Our ballot went to Donovan, Bradley and Cherundolo. So we need your help before our ballot is submitted in the middle of next week.
Give us a post and list your three top choices, in order. And feel free to do some lobbying if you so choose. Bear in mind that the award is for a player’s body of work for the year, so take into account a candidate’s performance for his club as well as his contributions to the U.S. team.
Update: Dempsey won the award for the second time after being named first choice on nearly half of the ballots submitted by the 202 U.S. journalists who took part. Howard was second and seven-time winner Donovan was third. [November 2]
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Alexi Lalas, Algeria, American Soccer League, Archie Stark, Babe Ruth of Soccer, Billy Gonsalves, Cantona, Claudio Reyna, Clint Dempsey, Cobi Jones, Ed Sullivan, Eric Wynalda, Everton, Futbol de Primera, Hannover 96, Honda, Hugo Perez, Kasey Keller, Kyle Rote Jr., Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles Times, Maldini, Michael Bradley, MLS, New York Cosmos, Rick Davis, Steve Cherundolo, Tab Ramos, U.S. Player of the Year, World Cup, Xavi, Zidane
Landon Donovan won an unprecedented seventh U.S. Player of the Year award in a landslide over runner-up Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in balloting involving nearly 200 journalists nationwide.
Donovan, who first won the honor in 2002, attracted 403 points based on three for a first-place vote, two for second and one for third. Bradley picked up 169 points and Dempsey 157. The only other multiple winners in the 20-year history of the award– organized by the national radio show Futbol de Primera and until recently sponsored by Honda–are goalkeeper Kasey Keller (1999 and 2005) and striker Eric Wynalda (1992 and 1996).
The speedy attacking midfielder-withdrawn forward probably became a favorite for the 2010 award with his stellar play early in the year for Everton, but he cinched it by scoring in three of the USA’s four games at the World Cup, including the dramatic winner against Algeria in added-on time that put the Americans into the second round. He then returned home and helped the Los Angeles Galaxy finish the MLS regular season with the league’s best record. [January 5]
Comment: Once dismissed by the Los Angeles Times as ”the overrated Landon Donovan” following the first of his two attempts to make an impact in Europe with Bayer Leverkusen, later criticized for disappearing in this match and that, the USA’s all-time scoring leader in 2010 cemented his status as not only the face of the sport in this country but a face that some average Americans actually recognize.
This country’s first notable soccer player was, probably, Archie Stark, a Scottish-born center forward who dominated the original American Soccer League in the 1920s and was dubbed “The Babe Ruth of Soccer” by a young newspaper columnist named Ed Sullivan. From the early ’30s, oldtimers fondly recall a ball artiste named Billy Gonsalves. Fast-forward to the 1970s, when the NASL tried but failed to make league scoring leader Kyle Rote Jr. its All-American Boy, and the 1980s, when it succeeded, somewhat, in planting that title on New York Cosmos midfielder Rick Davis. Since then, the country has produced several outstanding players, like Hugo Perez, Tab Ramos and Claudio Reyna, as well as personalities like bohemian gladfly defender Alexi Lalas, the fiery goal-scorer Wynalda and teen-idol Cobi Jones.
It has been said repeatedly that what American soccer needs is a superstar–whatever that means. It is doubtful, however, that the general American public would appreciate the subtle skills of a Xavi, a Zidane, a Cantona, a Maldini. An incisive pass, a simple swerve, a change of direction, an immaculate take-away: all would be lost on a viewership peering in on soccer only occasionally. Donovan, however, does what Americans understand, has a track record of doing so, and is comfortable before cameras and facing a horde of reporters in front of his locker.
Donovan has asked for a respite after several months of play, so it’s unlikely that he will return to Europe any time soon and add to his credentials this winter. As such, enjoy his reign as “That American Soccer Player.” Certainly, no successor is on the horizon, and that puts the sport’s longterm future on the fickle U.S. pop culture front in doubt.
[Full disclosure: One ballot went to Donovan, Bradley and Steve Cherundolo, who served the role of grown-up on the USA back line in South Africa. At 31 and playing for the obscure Hannover 96, it's doubtful that the smart, energenic Cherundolo will ever get the credit he deserves.]
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Anchorage, Columbus OH, Costa Rica, Foxboro MA, Guatemala, Honduras, Kasey Keller, Key West, Major League Soccer, Mexico, Philadelphia Union, Qwest Field, Seattle Sounders, U.S. National Team
A boisterous sellout crowd of 36,241 was on hand at Qwest Field to see the hometown Seattle Sounders defeat the expansion Philadelphia Union, 2-0, in the curtain raiser to Major League Soccer’s 15th season. [March 25]
Comment: Enough with trying to hide in places like Foxboro, Massachusetts; and Columbus, Ohio. Award all competitive U.S. National Team matches on home soil to Qwest Field for the foreseeable future. It’s become obvious that fans of Mexico and Honduras and Costa Rica and Guatemala will trek anywhere from Anchorage to Key West to support their team when it plays in the USA. But it’s a safe bet that Sounder fans would snap up every available ticket before any fan of a CONCACAF enemy could make a move for his wallet, then provide the singing and chanting customary at Sounder matches that would at long last spell home-field advantage for the U.S. (Bring back Seattle’s own Kasey Keller to start in goal and it’s a lead-pipe cinch.
MLS, PLAYERS AVERT STRIKE
Major League Soccer was spared a strike or lockout five days before its 2010 season opener when owners and the players’ association came to terms on a new, five-year agreement. Although the players did not achieve their goal of free agency within the league, the per-club salary cap will be increased from $2.3 million to $2.55 million, and more than half of them will receive guaranteed contracts, up from the previous 18 to 20 percent. [March 20]
Comment: The accord spares MLS management a public relations nightmare: the first professional player work stoppage in recent memory that would have had popular support. Most fans, denied their fun and games, usually side with management, or they blame both sides. But this is MLS, whose new CBA gives the three dozen or so players being paid the minimum $34,000 a whopping 5 percent raise. How could Joe Fan have possibly dismissed MLS players as “spoiled” or “pampered” when a number of them aren’t earning much more than a substitute school teacher?