The 2020 USL Championship and League One seasons offered a chance for several MLS players to prove themselves, and now they’re well-represented in the lower divisions' year-end awards.
MLS-affiliated players earned Young Player of the Year honors in both the USL Championship and USL League One, with 16-year-old Chicago Fire FC goalkeeper Chris Brady the latest to pick up honors in League One on Thursday for his outstanding campaign on loan with Forward Madison FC. Brady, who posted three shutouts in eight appearances and a 0.75 goals against average, beat out three other MLS-affiliated players to top the voting: Nicolas Firmino (New England / Revolution II), Edison Azcona (Inter Miami / Fort Lauderdale) and Justin Che (FC Dallas / North Texas).
Brady's award come a week after Sporting Kansas City forward Wilson Harris was named USL Championship Young Player of the Year. Harris, a US youth international was signed as a Homegrown Player back on Oct. 21, having scored a team-best eight goals this season for Sporting Kansas City II and becoming the youngest player to eclipse 20 career goals in USL Championship history.
The USL Championship’s Goalkeeper of the Year award went to FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Ben Lundt, who spent the year on loan with Louisville City FC. Selected No. 37 overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, the former Akron goalkeeper helped his team earn the best record in the Eastern Conference with a 74.4 save percentage, 0.73 goals-against average and seven shutouts.
Nashville SC forward Cameron Lancaster was up for the USL Championship MVP award after posting 10 goals and two assists for Louisville City this past season, but finished second in voting behind Phoenix Rising FC's Solomon Asante. Lancaster, a London native, is yet to make an MLS appearance, though was Nashville's second-ever player signed to an MLS deal.
Che was also nominated for, though did not win, USL League One’s Defender of the Year award after his pivotal showing with North Texas SC. The 16-year-old was signed to a Homegrown contract on Oct. 2 and is a US youth international who's considered one of the top center back prospects in the country. North Texas also saw their head coach, Eric Quill, nominated for Coach of the Year honors after leading the FC Dallas reserve side to a third-place finish.