Juventus’ Weston McKennie named U.S. Soccer’s Male Player of the Year

Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie has been named U.S. Soccer’s Male Player of the Year for 2020.

McKennie, 22, received 44% of the tabulated votes, followed by Christian Pulisic (27%) and Sergiño Dest (14%).

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He is the fourth-youngest recipient of the award behind Pulisic (19 in 2017 and 21 in 2019) Landon Donovan (21 in 2003) and Peter Vermes (22 in 1988). He is the 26th different player to claim the honor since it first started in 1984.

“I want to thank everyone for this huge honor. It’s been a journey, especially through these difficult times during the pandemic,” McKennie said. “Our fans have stuck with us throughout and we really appreciate it. Hopefully in 2021 we can have many more memories together.”

McKennie is also the second Italy-based player to win since Alexi Lalas (1995), while the Little Elm, Texas product joins three-time winner Clint Dempsey (2007, 2011 and 2012) as the second player from the Lone Star State to earn the award.

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 made a combined 29 appearances along with four goals and two assists for Schalke and Juventus in 2020. The midfielder was a consistent presence in the lineup for Schalke, appearing in 15 of 16 Bundesliga matches during the calendar year and helping Die Knappen avoid relegation from the German top-flight.

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Weston McKennie has the best chance of the first half for Juventus with his header against Genoa.

The U.S. midfielder was loaned to Juventus in August, and went straight into the starting lineup for manager Andrea Pirlo’s side in the club’s season opener three weeks later. McKennie has made 13 league and cup appearances, including five in the UEFA Champions League where he helped Juventus advance to the round of 16. His loan to the Bianconeri is widely expected to be made permanent.

McKennie has two goals and an assist over the past four matches for Juventus. He became just the third American to score in Serie A when his header against Torino sparked a 2-1 comeback win on Dec. 5. He later scored on a spectacular strike in Juve’s 3-0 Champions League win against Barcelona three days later.

In a year where schedule for the U.S. men’s national team was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McKennie made two appearances, winning Insiders Man of the Match honors in the 0-0 draw with Wales on Nov. 12 before helping the USA to a 6-2 rout of Panama on Nov. 16.

The U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year has been awarded since 1984, when midfielder Rick Davis earned the inaugural honor. U.S. Soccer began awarding Young Player of the Year in 1998, with Josh Wolff taking the first honor.

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