TAMPA, Fla. – Former Cosmos midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma has been voted the Most Valuable Player of the United Soccer League, it was announced Wednesday.
The FC Cincinnati midfielder set a season record for assists (16) as part of a spectacular year that saw him lead the club to the regular season championship. He also struck for 16 goals.
Ledesma, who helped the Cosmos reach the 2017 North American Soccer League championship game, received 39 percent of the vote, with Louisville City FC forward Cameron Lancaster finishing second with 33 percent and Orange County SC’s duo of Aodhan Quinn and Thomas Enevoldsen tied for third with eight percent. Eight different players received votes in the ballot.
The USL awards were voted on by team management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the regular season.
Ledesma soared past the assist season record (12) as he recorded 16 and finished the regular season with 66 chances created and a league-best 21 big chances created. The Argentine also became the first player in the league’s modern era to record at least 15 goals and 15 assists in a season.
“I want to shout right now, I want to go crazy!” Ledesma said. “It’s something I’ve been looking for from the beginning of the season. I would not be in this position without my teammates, and this award is really about them, too. They were excellent all season and the reason we were so successful on the field. I’m so, so happy that this recognizes the hard work everyone did this year. I want to say thank you very much to every single person who works at the club and obviously the fans, too, who have made FC Cincinnati such a special place to play.”
The 30-year-old playmaker produced highlight-reel moments, with a league-leading eight of his goals coming from outside the penalty area as FC Cincinnati registered a league-record 23-game undefeated streak and 10-game winning streak. Ledesma’s 32 combined goals and assists also surpassed the previous mark of 29 held by two of his predecessors as USL MVPs in Kevin Molino (2014) and Matt Fondy (2015).
“Emmanuel has been a sheer joy to watch create his magic on the field this season,” FC Cincinnati president Jeff Berding said. “We knew we were bringing in a special player, but it has been great to see how quickly he settled into Cincinnati and how fast our community and fans embraced him. To have the year he did – the record-setting assists and the number of goals, not to mention the importance of many of his goals and assists to secure games for us – he truly had a season for the ages. We firmly believed Manu should be the USL Most Valuable Player this season, and we’re so proud to see that the rest of the league agreed.”
2018 USL Awards
Defender of the Year: Forrest Lasso, FC Cincinnati
Goalkeeper of the Year: Maxime Crepeau, Ottawa Fury FC
Coach of the Year: Alan Koch, FC Cincinnati
Young Player of the Year: Efrain Alvarez, LA Galaxy II
Most Valuable Player: Emmanuel Ledesma, FC Cincinnati