The finalists for the 2009 Honda Player of the Year were announced this morning. This award goes to “best performer on the USMNT.”
This TSG favorite has been a rock in net for most of the year including 8 saves against Spain in an historic win for US Soccer. The USMNT’s pack-it-in and counter-attack approach has only enjoyed some success due to Howard’s ability to come up big when the defense breaks down. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s still world class.
The “Summer of Soccer” could have just as easily be named the “Summer of Donovan.” Lando’s performance at the Confed Cup helped to elevate both his stature and that of US Soccer in the world. However, the blow-by that conceded the game-winning goal in Mexico may be my most enduring image of him in 2009.
Receive…Pivot…Shoot…Score…USA 1, Spain 0. Jozy took a big leap this year towards becoming a force to be reckoned with on the world stage and is on his way to becoming a US sports star, not just a soccer star. If all goes according to plan he’ll be a fixture up top for the Yanks Nats Stars & Stripes USMNT for years to come.
As you probably can tell by my commentary, I’d vote for Howard. He’s had to play with a number of different back-lines and produced while being a (vocal) team leader. Donovan comes in a very close second and could easily win the award based off the press he received following South Africa. And I am guessing Jozy is a distant third, in large part because he’s so young and from my perspective will be in line for a number of these in the coming years.
As a side note, the award is voted on by 221 sports journalists. TWO HUNDRED TWENTY ONE…Assuming we are talking about American journalists, I’d be hard pressed to come up with TWENTY-ONE that have the detailed knowledge of the USMNT to vote intelligently here (which is why Donovan will probably win the award). Am I wrong ?
More importantly, who do YOU think should win?
(vote on the right)