US U-20 and SC Freiburg midfielder Alex Mendez has been named the 2018 Young Male Player of the Year by US Soccer. The youngster had a standout performance in the Concacaf U-20 Championship and won the Golden Ball award for the tournament.
At 18 years-old, Mendez is set to represent the Stars and Stripes at the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland next summer. He joins esteemed company as the last four winners of the award are Josh Sargent, Christian Pulisic, Matt Miazga, and DeAndre Yedlin. Wil Trapp has also received the honor.
US Soccer released a few clips celebrating the award.
Mendez move to Freiburg also validates the path that players can take to reach a higher level in their careers. Rather than fighting for limited opportunities in MLS, the youngster had a superlative season for LA Galaxy II and parlayed that into a move abroad. With more USL giving more young Americans chances to get professional minutes, more players like Mendez should follow in his path.