CONCACAF released its shortlist of players and coaches up for yearly awards, and a trio of Americans made the cut for voting eligibility. Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic are both up for men’s player of the year thanks to their exploits for both club and country, while Bruce Arena’s final season with the LA Galaxy landed him on the shortlist for CONCACAF coach of the year.
All three will face stiff competition to win any awards, however. Jorge Luis Pinto, Juan Carlos Osorio, Miguel Herrera, and a bevy of other international and club coaches (including FC Dallas head honcho Oscar Pareja) will face off against Bruce Arena. On the players’ side of the ball, Bryan Ruiz, Hirving Lozano, Chicharito, and Wes Morgan, among others, are also up for men’s player of the year. There are plenty of championships, goals and other titles represented in that list. Wes Morgan captained Leicester City’s fantasy run to the 15/16 Premier League title. Chicharito lit the Bundesliga ablaze with goal after goal. Lozano has 12 goals and 6 assists across all competitions in Mexico and took the senior Mexican national team by storm this year, cementing his place at the full international level under Juan Carlos Osorio.
Realistically, Clint Dempsey and Bruce Arena’s inclusions look a bit like the token Americans, a nod to the country that remains one of the big two in CONCACAF despite very recent results. Dempsey had a good Copa America and scored goals for Seattle this year, but his record pales in comparison to other attackers in this list. Meanwhile, Arena’s LA Galaxy collected no hardware this past year. Awards are generally reserved for winners of trophies (see: Ronaldo, Cristiano) or truly outstanding play in tough situations. Pulisic is an interesting inclusion, but I think his nomination is mostly down to his young age. His numbers and play represent a solid year, but his age amplifies them. Was his year truly more impressive than Chicharito’s? Not really, and especially not if you go by numbers, but everything he does is viewed under the lens of him being a teenager (and being an American, frankly). It appears more impressive. Maybe Pulisic will win this award in the near future, but this one isn’t his year.
If I had to take a stab at who actually wins this, I would put my money on Chicharito or possibly even Wes Morgan. As far as coach of the year goes, while Liguilla ended poorly for Xolos, Miguel Herrera turned a playoff-missing team into the number one seed in Liga MX this year. Juan Carlos Osorio also ended Mexico’s World Cup Qualifying woes in Columbus, which was almost like a championship judging by the way the Mexican players celebrated on the field after the match. All in all, I appreciate Americans getting nominated for awards like this, but I cannot in good conscience advocate for any of them to win an award I don’t think they truly deserve.
But who cares what I think? If you want to vote for an American to win one of these things anyway, you can vote for all of CONCACAF’s men’s and women’s yearly awards on their website.