KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The United States Paralympic national soccer team has been selected by United Soccer Coaches to receive the association’s 2017 Honorary All-America award.
The team — represented by head coach Stuart Sharp, as well as midfielders Andrew Bremer and Josh Brunais – will be presented the award at the annual United Soccer Coaches All-America Luncheon at the 2018 United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia Jan. 20.
“It is a privilege for us to be able to recognize the Paralympic National Soccer Team with our Honorary All-America award,” United Soccer Coaches President Charlie Slagle said in a statement. “We salute U.S. Soccer, coach Stuart Sharp and all the players for their hard work and commitment to playing the game and representing our country in elite international competitions.”
The U.S. Paralympic team features players with a neurological condition such as cerebral palsy, a stroke or traumatic brain injury, and the team annually competes in international championships, invitational tournaments and challenge matches.
In September, the team earned a fifth-place finish at the 2017 ICFPF CP Football World Championships in Argentina with victories over Australia, North Ireland, Brazil and Ireland. The strong showing qualified the U.S. for the 2019 IFCPF World Cup, which will be preceded by the 2018 IFCPF Americas Championship and followed by the 2019 ParaPan American Games.
Last year, the U.S. Paralympic National Soccer Team finished seventh at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Brazil. The team’s top paralympics performance since 1996 vaulted the United States to No. 6 in the world rankings, the nation’s highest position in the poll.
Sharp, who has led the team since 2014, also serves as chairman of the international coaches technical committee for the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football. He was head of technical development for the Cerebral Palsy International Sport and Recreation Association, director of international development for BlazeSports America and head coach of the Scotland National CP Team from 2005-2011. His coaching career also includes roles with the Scottish Universities Women’s National Team, University of Strathclyde, Queens Park FC, Stirling Albion FC and the Scotland FA.
Bremer, who was born with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, was also a key contributor at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, scoring the winning goal from just inside midfield in their final match of the competition. The 22-year-old Grand Rapids, Mich., native has continued to be an impactful member of the squad with a goal and four assists at the 2017 ICFPF CP Football World Championships. After playing NCAA Division III soccer with Kalamazoo College, Bremer is an inaugural member of the Clemson University Paralympic Soccer Program.
Brunais, born in El Paso, Tx., and raised in Stafford, Va., is a 30-year-old U.S. Army veteran who retired as a Staff Sergeant in 2015 as a result of wounds suffered from an IED explosion. During his service, he received the Soldier’s Medal for saving the lives of 14 men in the aftermath of a helicopter crash. A member of the United States team at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, Brunais was chosen to be the American flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony and was one of two Olympians, along with gold medalist Simone Biles, to present a gift to President Barack Obama at the White House.
PAST UNITED SOCCER COACHES HONORARY ALL-AMERICANS
2016, Tim Howard, U.S. Men’s National Team
2015, Jill Ellis, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach
2014, Sir Alex Ferguson, Former Manager, Manchester United
2013, Bob Bradley, Former U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach
2012, Julie Foudy, U.S. Women’s National Team
2011, Sunil Gulati, President, US Soccer
2010, Joe Gaetjens, 1950 U.S. Men’s National Team member
2009, JP Dellacamera, ESPN
2008, Dr. Sandra Magnus, U.S. astronaut
2007, Kristine Lilly, five-time U.S. Women’s World Cup player
2006, John & Maureen Hendricks; founders of the Discovery Channel
2005, Jon Stewart; comedian/TV talk show host
2004, U.S. Servicemen & Servicewomen Using Soccer for Outreach; accepted by Capt. Alexander Fyfe & Lt. Joshua Walters
2003, Walter Bahr, Frank Borghi, Harry Keough, Gino Pariani & John Sousa, Members of 1950 U.S. World Cup, Team; Zachary Ty Bryan, TV/Movie actor
2001, Heroes & victims of Sept. 11, 2001; accepted by Joe Brosi & Wyman Iriarity, Fire Dept. of New York soccer team
2000, Michelle Akers, U.S. Women’s National Team
1999, Tony DiCicco, U.S. Women’s National Team Coach
1998, Bob Ley, ESPN
1996, Lamar Hunt, Investor/Operator, Major League Soccer
1994, Carolyn McKenzie-Edwards, Soccer in the Streets
1993, Andrew Shue, TV/Movie actor
1992, Anson Dorrance, U.S. Women’s National Team Coach
1991, Sonny Carter, U.S. astronaut
1990, Pelé, International soccer icon & ambassador from Brazil
1989, Werner Fricker, President, U.S. Soccer
1985, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics
1983, Clay Berling, Publisher, Soccer America
1982, Dennis P. Long, Anheuser-Busch Co.
1974, William Symington, U.S. Representative, Mo.
1973, William Westmoreland, General of the Army
1972, Col. William Anders, Apollo 8 Lunar Mission Astronaut