CHICAGO – U.S. Soccer announced midfielder Weston McKennie as the 2020 male player of the year.
Closing his fourth calendar year representing the U.S. men’s national team, the 22-year-old Juventus midfielder beame the third youngest recipient of the award, behind teammate Christian Pulisic (19 in 2017 and 21 in 2019) Landon Donovan (21 in 2003) and Peter Vermes (22 in 1988).
A finalist for the award for the third consecutive year, McKennie is one of 26 players to claim the honor since it first started in 1984. In his first season with Juve, McKennie is also the second Italian-based player to win since Alexi Lalas (1995), while the Little Elm, Texas product joined three-time winner Clint Dempsey (2007, 2011 and 2012) as the second player from the Lone Star State to earn the award.
“I want to thank everyone for this huge honor. It’s been a journey, especially through these difficult times during the pandemic,” McKennie said in a statement. “Our fans have stuck with us throughout and we really appreciate it. Hopefully in 2021 we can have many more memories together.”
One of six finalists for the award, McKennie garnered 44 percent of the tabulated votes, followed by Pulisic (27 percent) and Sergiño Dest (14 percent).
Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards were collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who were part of a camp in 2020, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches for the USWNT and American soccer league (MLS and USL) head coaches for the USMNT, select media members and former players and administrators.
McKennie amassed a combined 29 appearances along with four goals and two assists for Schalke and Juventus in 2020. He was a constant in the lineup for Schalke, appearing in 15 of 16 Bundesliga matches and helping the the team stave off relegation from the German top flight.
With a loan move to Juventus in August, McKennie slotted straight into head coach Andrea Pirlo’s starting XI for the club’s season opener three weeks later. The dominant midfielder has provided a forceful presence for the Serie A side, appearing in 13 matches across all competitions, including five in the UEFA Champions League, where he helped Juventus advance to the Round of 16.
McKennie has two goals and an assist in his last four matches. He became just the third American to score in Serie A when his 80th minute header sparked a 2-1 comeback win against Torino in the Derby della Mole Dec. 5 before his stunning acrobatic strike in Juve’s 3-0 Champions League win over Barcelona three days later. McKennie provided an assist to Paulo Dybala to open the scoring in the club’s 3-1 win against Genoa Dec. 13.
In a year where the opportunity to represent the USMNT was limited, McKennie made two appearances, winning man of the match honors in the 0-0 draw with Wales Nov. 12 before helping the USA to a 6-2 rout of Panama Nov. 16.
U.S. Soccer’s female player of the year will be announced Saturday, followed by young male player and young female player of the year Monday, Dec. 21, and player of the year with a disability Tuesday, Dec. 22.
The U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year has been awarded since 1984, when midfielder Rick Davis earned the inaugural honor.
|Year||Male Player of the Year|
|2019||Christian Pulisic (2)|
|2016||Jozy Altidore (2)|
|2014||Tim Howard (2)|
|2012||Clint Dempsey (3)|
|2011||Clint Dempsey (2)|
|2010||Landon Donovan (4)|
|2009||Landon Donovan (3)|
|2005||Kasey Keller (3)|
|2004||Landon Donovan (2)|
|1999||Kasey Keller (2)|
|1994||Marcelo Balboa (2)|
|1985||Perry Van der Beck|