Soccer player

Christian Pulisic wins American Football Player of the Year for the third time

The historic highlights and clutch performance eclipsed his injury issues and was enough to propel Christian Pulisic to a third American Football Player of the Year award. The 23-year-old Chelsea forward became the first American to play in and win the UEFA Champions League final and, while serving in the United States, scored the game-winning goal in two wins competing against Mexico.

Pulisic has already won the most prestigious annual honor in American football in 2017 and 2019. He is now only the fourth man to claim it at least three times, joining Landon Donovan (four), Clint Dempsey (three) and Kasey Keller (three).

FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi, 18, won the US Soccer Young Male Player of the Year award, which was also announced on Saturday night.

The two winners beat the deserving finalists. Pulisic garnered 31% of the total votes cast by national team coaches and players, members of the US Soccer Board and Athletes Council, MLS and USL head coaches, members of the media ( including Illustrated sports), select former players and administrators and, for the first time, fans. New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner was second with 21% and Red Bull Salzburg’s Brenden Aaronson was third with 15%.

Pepi got 60% of the young male player’s vote, well ahead of Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah (23%) and Venice midfielder Gianluca Busio (11%).

Pulisic’s year was marked by indelible memories forged under the brightest light. He overcame some fitness issues at the end of 2020 and started steadily for Chelsea in the last two months of the Premier League campaign as the Blues finished 5-2-1 and took fourth and final place of the Champions League 2021-22 by a single point. .

But it is in Europe that Pulisic has had a lasting impact. After ousting Atlético Madrid and Porto, Chelsea faced 13-time winner Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. In the first leg in Spain, Pulisic gave Chelsea an early advantage after comfortably dancing past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and shooting through two defenders.

Christian Pulisic wins Champions League title with Chelsea

Chelsea were leading 2-1 on aggregate towards the end of the second leg in London when Pulisic helped seal his side’s passage to the final with a compound cross to Mason Mount. Pulisic went on to play 24 minutes in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Manchester City in Porto and came close to scoring after hitting a deep ball from Kai Havertz.

Pulisic’s contributions to the national team have also been timely and important. He appeared in eight of 22 United States matches in 2021, absent from the Concacaf Gold Cup along with most of the rest of the program’s European contingent, then missed four of eight World Cup qualifiers with coronavirus and an ankle injury. But when he was there, he mattered.

In the Concacaf Nations League final in June in Denver, Pulisic captained the team and helped end a nearly eight-year winless streak against Mexico by drawing and then by converting the winning penalty into overtime. His shirtless ‘hush’ celebration immediately became one of the iconic images of the year.

Christian Pulisic scores for USA against Mexico

He then produced another in the second half of November’s qualifying game against El Tri. Pulisic entered the scoreless game in Cincinnati in the 69th minute and five minutes later he scored with his first touch of the ball, nodding at a cross from Timothy Weah. Pulisic’s “MAN IN THE MIRROR” undershirt, revealed as a response to Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa’s words, marked a milestone in the rivalry. Last month’s 2-0 victory was this young American generation’s third straight triumph over Mexico in quick succession. El Tri is now chasing the United States and Pulisic has played a major role in getting them to the top.

Here are the Former Male Football Players of the Year:

1984 – Rick Davis

1985 – Perry Van der Beck

1986 – Paul Caligiuri

1987 – Brent Goulet

1988 – Pierre Vermes

1989 – Mike Windischmann

1990 – Tab Ramos

1991 – Hugo Pérez

1992 – Marcelo Balboa

1993 – Thomas Dooley

1994 – Marcelo Balboa (2nd)

1995 – Alexi Lalas

1996 – Eric Wynalda

1997 – Kasey Keller

1998 – Cobi Jones

1999 – Kasey Keller (2nd)

2000 – Chris Armas

2001 – Earnie Stewart

2002 – Brad Friedel

2003 – Landon Donovan

2004 – Landon Donovan (2nd)

2005 – Kasey Keller (3rd)

2006 – Oguchi Onyewu

2007 – Clint Dempsey

2008 – Tim Howard

2009 – Landon Donovan (3rd)

2010 – Landon Donovan (4th)

2011 – Clint Dempsey (2nd)

2012 – Clint Dempsey (3rd)

2013 – Jozy Altidore

2014 – Tim Howard (2nd)

2015 – Michael Bradley

2016 – Jozy Altidore (2nd)

2017 – Christian Pulisic

2018 – Zack Steffen

2019 – Christian Pulisic (2nd)

2020 – Weston McKennie

2021 – Christian Pulisic (3rd)

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