Standout players and achievements in CONCACAF will be honored next month in the confederation's inaugural awards event, the governing body for North, Central American and Caribbean soccer announced Tuesday.
The event will be held annually and will recognize the top players, coaches and referees in both men's and women's soccer throughout the CONCACAF region in confederation-sanctioned tournaments, club matches and competitions at all levels for national teams, according to officials.
“We are delighted to introduce the first edition of the annual CONCACAF Awards, which will provide rightful and much-deserved recognition to our region’s best players, coaches and referees in the women’s and men’s games,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb in a release. “This event promises to become a prominent date on the football calendar for players and fans alike.”
This year’s award categories include Male and Female Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Referee of the Year, and Goal of the Year.
A semifinal group of 10 candidates for each award has already been determined by technical directors from each of the confederations' 41 member associations and the CONCACAF technical study group, and there is plenty of American representation on the ballot.
Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley are all among the 10 nominees for the Male Player of the Year award, along with New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengtson and Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio for their exploits with their respective national teams. Seven of the 10 Female Player of the Year candidates also come from the US, with another two hailing from Canada.
In the coaching category, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is on the ballot after guiding the team to a record-setting 16-4-3 record in 2013, winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup and finishing first in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is also on the shortlist after guiding his team to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, where they narrowly lost to Monterrey.
Lastly, two US players have goals up for the Goal of the Year award – Altidore for his game-winner in June's home World Cup qualifier vs. Honduras, and Brek Shea for his winner in the USMNT's Gold Cup final win over Panama.
National team coaches and captains from across the confederation will account for one third of the final vote, and accredited members of CONCACAF’s media circle will contribute another third of the tally. Fans from around the region and the world are invited to vote online for the final one-third segment of the vote.
Final votes in each of the six categories will be tallied by mid-December, with three finalists elected in each category. Winners will be announced by the end of the year, via CONCACAF.com.