Weston McKennie - USMNT - United States - holds off a Wales player

US men’s national team midfielder Weston McKennie has been named 2020 Male Player of the Year by U.S. Soccer, the federation announced Friday.

McKennie is in his first season with Juventus after joining the Serie A powerhouse on loan from Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04. He's earned a combined 29 appearances at both clubs this year along with four goals and two assists, earning a starting role under manager Andrea Pirlo and becoming the third American to score in Serie A.

“I want to thank everyone for this huge honor. It’s been a journey, especially through these difficult times during the pandemic,” the 22-year-old said in a release. “Our fans have stuck with us throughout and we really appreciate it. Hopefully in 2021 we can have many more memories together.”

McKennie, who developed with the FC Dallas academy before heading to Europe, has six goals in 19 USMNT caps. He featured in two international games during the 2020 calendar year, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting opportunities for head coach Gregg Berhalter’s team to gather. Those appearances came in November friendlies against Wales and Panama.

McKennie was one of six finalists for the Male Player of the Year award and earned 44 percent of the vote. He was followed by Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic (27 percent) and FC Barcelona outside back Sergiño Dest (14 percent). McKennie is the fourth-youngest recipient of the Male Player of the Year award, with Pulisic taking the 2019 honors as a 21-year-old during his first Premier League season.  

Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards were collected from 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 were also factored in.

The Male Player of the Year has been awarded since 1984, with former LA Galaxy and USMNT star Landon Donovan earning the recognition a record four times (last in 2010).