The TDS Player of the Year presented by IMG is back.
Last season represented the first go-round for the TDS Player of the Year honorific, and both players wasted little time making the step up in competition. Mallory Pugh won the inaugural girls’ trophy handed out to the player deemed the most promising talent in the country by a TDS panel of judges. Pugh ultimately went on to star for the U.S. U20 WNT at the U20 World Cup last fall and is currently playing for the USWNT while gearing up for her first season at UCLA in the fall.
The boys trophy, meanwhile, was handed to Isaiah Young after a huge final year with Northeast development powerhouse PDA. Young ultimately eschewed his pledge to Wake Forest and finally signed for Bundesliga club Werder Bremen earlier this year. Young could be on the radar for his own U20 World Cup call-up later this year.
That of course means we have a new group of candidates to vet for the 2016-17 titles on the boys and girls side. And this column will serve as a laser pointer giving you an indication of which players caught the panel’s collective eye over the course of the year.
As a reminder of the rubric, the TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Year Award presented by IMG will award its second two winners this August. Taking into account the top performances from the very best amateur American players, the honor will be bestowed on one girl and one boy each who best exemplify the rising tide of American soccer. Through a panel of judges carefully curating these performances over the course of the year, we’ll make an informed decision about the best seasons from the best players.
The award, the most prestigious yearly honorific for amateur youth players with U.S. ties, will honor one top girl and boy player each at the conclusion of each season. Announced each August following a July 31 cutoff, the award takes into account the player’s body of work over the previous season and will be picked by an internal panel of judges.
To be considered, a player must be eligible for a U.S. youth national team, and they must be college eligible and have retained their amateur status at the time the award is bestowed. Players who’ve signed professional contracts or have already begun their college careers are not eligible for consideration.
In addition to standout club performances, the selection panel will also take into consideration strong U.S. youth national team performances over the course of the previous season. After an in-depth assessment of those performances, the panel will pick one boy and one girl winner in August.
Without further ado, here’s a look at two early contenders.
The award doesn’t have to go to a senior, necessarily, but they tend to have the best crack by dint of their experience and on-field savvy. That’s certainly been the case for Sanchez, the 2017 UCLA pledge who’s been an unstoppable force on the club scene for years now. If there’s any demerit on Sanchez’s resume this year when it comes to the award, it’s that her actual club performances have been cut short by national team duty. But that national team duty is impressive enough to land her in consideration on her own.
Sanchez became one of the first players in U.S. history on either the girls or boys side to play in both a U17 and U20 World Cup not only in the same year but in the same fall. She leapt from a starring role with the U17s in Jordan to another prominent starting gig with the U20s less than two months later, which sucked up her entire fall calendar. That obviously precluded her from making an impression with So Cal Blues, but it also cemented her place as a bonafide candidate to join the full USWNT given development time. A strong spring later, and anything’s possible.
Boys: F Alex Rose, CASL
If any signing day decision rocked college soccer nation down to its core, it was the revelation that Rose was not going to Stanford as many expected. Rose seemed to be lined up as the next in a recent string of massively productive forwards following on from Jordan Morris and Foster Langsdorf’s legacies. But Rose announced not long after signing day he was en route to North Carolina instead. And it was such a big deal because of the hugely successful 2016-17 season he’s enjoying.
Rose’s club career zoomed into the stratosphere this year with an incredible return of 16 goals from just 12 games with the CASL U18s this year. Rose was rewarded in December with a U19 MNT call from Brad Friedel and by all accounts acquitted himself well. There are few pure goalscorers in the DA with a better track record than Rose over the last couple years, and he now has 41 goals in 39 games with the CASL U18s stretching back to the start of the 2015-16 season. Rose has an uphill battle in a tight year on the boys side, but on the track he’s on he shouldn’t struggle to be in the final reckoning.
Here’s a glimpse at a few more players making a case to be included on the shortlist as we arrow toward this summer’s ultimate vote.