Yunus Musah enjoyed a memorable year for club and country. (USA TODAY Sports)

Yunus Musah has been voted the 2022 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year after capping off one of the most productive runs ever for a teenager representing the U.S. men’s national team, it was announced on Tuesday.

Before turning 20 during the World Cup, the midfielder logged the most minutes and starts for a teenager in team history while playing a critical role in the midfield during the USA’s successful run in Qatar.

This year marked Musah’s third nomination for the award after making his senior international debut for the U.S. in 2020 and establishing himself as a USMNT regular in 2021. He joined a long list of talented players to win U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year, which was first awarded in 1998 to Josh Wolff.

Musah was informed of the honor through a surprise video call from four-time World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley, who won the award in 2001 as a 19-year-old.

“It feels crazy to think out of all people that I was the one chosen to be the Young Male Player of the Year,” Musah said in a statement. “To get this award is really huge. I’ve said it many times – I’ve had the trust from the manager, the team, the U.S. to play so many games at this young age. It shows me that I just have to carry on the way I’m doing, keep being humble and keep working hard to try and be more. As a player, you just want to keep improving.”

The U.S. midfield was a key driver of the team’s success at the World Cup. Musah started all four matches in Qatar alongside captain Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. The Valencia midfielder became the first teenager to start a World Cup match for the USA as well as the first to appear in multiple matches as he logged 345 minutes out of a possible 360 during the tournament.

Before his 20th birthday on Nov. 29, the day of the USA’s knockout round-clinching victory vs. Iran in Qatar, Musah’s 1,578 minutes played and 20 starts set records for a teenager with the USMNT, while his 21 caps equaled the mark set by Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic.

In 2022, Musah played in a career-high 12 matches and logged 1,000 minutes, second for USMNT midfielders behind Adams. The midfielder also earned Man of the Match honors twice, during a 0-0 draw against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in a World cup qualifier on March 24 and then a dominant, gritty per 1-1 draw at El Salvador in the Concacaf Nations League on June 14.

With Valencia in the Spain’s La Liga, Musah made 39 appearances, while netting one goal and adding two assists across all competitions. He became the second U.S. international to appear in the Spanish Copa del Rey Final, coming off the bench in Valencia’s penalty kick shootout defeat to Real Betis.

For the second time, fans voted for the U.S. Soccer Player and Young Player of the Year Awards with those votes weighted at 15 percent of the total. Of the five finalists for the Young Male Player of the Year Award, Musah garnered 83.9 percent of the overall tabulated votes, followed by Paxten Aaronson (8.8 percent).

“To the fans from when they started the ‘Can’t spell Musah without USA thing’, through qualifiers and the World Cup, I feel like the fans have been behind me for so long – since before I even did anything in football,” Musah said. “As we went on playing games and they enjoyed the way I was playing and everything – I’d just like to say thank you for their unbelievable support and their trust since day one. The fans of the USMNT are great and I love them.”

Votes for U.S. Soccer Male and Young Male Player of the Year Awards are collected from respective national team coaches, national team players who have earned a cap in 2021, members of the U.S. Soccer board of directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, professional league (MLS and USL) head coaches, select media members and former players and administrators.

Twenty-four of the 25 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year winners have earned caps with the full USMNT, and 11 have represented the USA at a World Cup.

 

PREVIOUS WINNERS

Year Young Male Player of the Year
2022 Yunus Musah
2021 Ricardo Pepi
2020 Gio Reyna
2019 Sergiño Dest
2018 Alex Mendez
2017 Josh Sargent
2016 Christian Pulisic
2015 Matt Miazga
2014 DeAndre Yedlin
2013 Wil Trapp
2012 Rubio Rubin
2011 Brek Shea
2010 Gale Agbossoumonde
2009 Luis Gil
2008 Sacha Kljestan
2007 Michael Bradley
2006 Jozy Altidore
2005 Benny Feilhaber
2004 Eddie Johnson
2003 Freddy Adu
2002 Bobby Convey
2001 DaMarcus Beasley
2000 Landon Donovan
1999 Ben Olsen
1998 Josh Wolff