Dempsey, Howard lead six-man shortlist for USMNT Athlete of Year honor
World Cup hero Tim Howard and U.S. captain Clint Dempsey lead the six-man shortlist for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year.
The Everton goalkeeper and the Seattle Sounders forward are joined on the list by four of their World Cup teammates: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones, according to a release issued by U.S. Soccer on Monday morning. The winner of the award will be unveiled on Thursday.
U.S. Soccer will collect votes from national team coaches, players and staff members, MLS and NASL coaches, select media members, former players and administrators in order to determine the winner, according to the federation.
Howard, a former winner back in 2008, is the favorite to secure the award after his displays in Brazil garnered national attention. He recorded a World Cup-record 15 saves in the round of 16 defeat to Brazil. The veteran goalkeeper also claimed the records for goalkeeper appearances (104) and wins (55) and reached a century of appearances this year before temporarily stepping away from national team duty in August.
Dempsey will provide strong competition after leading the U.S. in scoring (two goals) during the trip to the round of 16. The three-time winner of this award (2007, 2011 and 2012) also made history as the first American player to score in three World Cups with his goals against Ghana and Portugal during group play.
The two past winners of the award are joined by a group of standouts who played critical roles during the adventures this summer.
Beckerman started three matches during group play and earned man of the match honors in the defeat to Germany. Bedoya also started three matches on his way to a team-high 11 appearances so far this year. Johnson set career marks in appearances, minutes and starts as he emerged as a mainstay in the starting XI. Jones provided a dynamic presence in midfield with a goal and an assist to his credit from his performances in Brazil.
Jozy Altidore missed out on a chance to retain his perch after sustaining a hamstring injury during the World Cup. Altidore, however, joins Beckerman, Bedoya and Johnson in the squad for the friendly against Republic of Ireland on Tuesday.
U.S. Soccer will announce the nominees for Female Athlete of the Year in December, while the Young Male and Young Female Athletes of the Year will be unveiled at a late date, according to the federation.