The U.S. Soccer Development Academy announced its year-end awards on Monday, and MLS players led the pack in nearly every category.
The three Player of the Year awards all went to those in MLS academies, as led by New York City FC first-team midfielder Justin Haak in the East Conference. The Central Conference nod went to FC Dallas forward Johan Gomez, who also plays for North Texas SC, the club’s USL League One team. Out in the West Conference, LA Galaxy outside back Kobe Hernandez-Foster received the nod, having featured in several LA Galaxy II (USL Championship) matches this year.
MLS honors continued well into Best XIs for the various conferences, with 19 out of 33 players across the East, Central and West suiting up for MLS academies. The Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas and the Galaxy led the way with three representatives apiece.
Starting out East, the backline had NYCFC’s Tayvon Gray and Dante Huckaby of the Philadelphia Union, while the midfield had Haak, D.C. United prospect Bryang Kayo and New England Revolution first-teamer Nicolas Firmino. Up top, D.C. also had forward Kevin Paredes included.
The Central Conference includes FC Dallas left back Jonathan Gomez and Chicago Fire defender David Mendoza, while the midfield has Aidan Morris of Columbus Crew SC and Tanner Tessmann, also of Dallas. Lastly, Gomez was included up top.
In the West, honors kept on coming for MLS academy products, starting with Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Sam Fowler, who has featured for the Tacoma Defiance in the USL Championship. It’s then an all-MLS defense with Jacob Akanyirige of the San Jose Earthquakes, Blake Malone of the Sounders and the Galaxy duo of Mauricio Cuevas and Hernandez-Foster. Moving into midfield, the sole MLS representative was Jordan Pena of Real Salt Lake. At forward, the Galaxy’s Jorge Hernandez was honored, as was Sounders' youth standout Ray Serrano Lopez.
The MLS honors didn’t stop there, as two clubs earned Coaching Staff of the Year honors. NYCFC got the nod in the East, while LAFC did in the West.
Awards continued into postseason play, where Golden Ball (best player), Golden Boot (top goal-scorer) and Golden Glove (best goalkeeper) honors were dished out.
LAFC U-15 defender Antonio Leone and FC Dallas U-19 midfielder Tanner Tessmann took home Golden Ball honors for their respective age groups. Meanwhile, the Golden Boot nod saw Toronto FC’s Hugo Mbongue tie with LAFC’s Christian Torres at the U-15 age group. The U-19 honor went to NYCFC winger Andres Jasson, a US U-17 national team player.
In the Golden Glove category, the only MLS player included was NYCFC U-19 shot-stopper Alex Rando, who is heading to Stanford.