Chucky Lozano Becomes Youngest To Win Concacaf Male Player Of The Year Award On Wildly Flawed Ballot

Alex Morgan won the Female Player of the Year award while Keylor Navas won Male Goalkeeper honors. After that, it got weird. Michael Bradley weird.

Hirving Chucky Lozano added one more honor to his stellar 2018 year — Concacaf Male Player of the Year, announced Tuesday as part of the Concacaf Awards. Alex Morgan joined him with top honors, taking home Concacaf Female Player of the Year for the third straight year and fourth overall.

But after that, the Concacaf Awards got weird.

Few people would argue against Concacaf’s top winners. Lozano had a fantastic year with both PSV in the Eredivisie and the Mexico national team, scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory against reigning champion Germany at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He’s deserving of being the youngest player to ever earn the award, which has been given out each year since 2013. 

Likewise, Alex Morgan was unstoppable for the USWNT, scoring 18 goals in 19 appearances.

Also, no one will bat an eye at Keylor Navas winning Male Goalkeeper of the Year again, or USWNT No. 1 Alyssa Naeher doing the same on the women’s side. 

But the other Concacaf Awards — particularly the Male and Female Best XI teams — were wildly flawed. 

According to the Concacaf Awards, Khadija Shaw, a forward for the University of Tennessee and Jamaica women’s national team, had the second-best year for a female player in Concacaf, just ahead of NWSL MVP Lindsey Horan. While Shaw had a strong Concacaf Women’s Championship and has a great story, voters were asked to rate players only on performances on the pitch. Like when FIFA nominated Deyna Castellanos as one of the top women’s players in the world, it doesn’t make sense to put a college player ahead of one of the best professionals.

But it gets better (worse?).

After Navas on the Male Goalkeeper list was Guillermo Ochoa, which totally makes sense, considering he probably had a better World Cup than anyone in the world. But No. 3 on that list is Cody Laurendi, a Puerto Rican who plays for the OKC Energy, which finished 10th in its conference in the United Soccer League. What?

On the women’s side, Yenith Bailey was voted No. 2 goalkeeper, a 17-year-old Panamanian. It doesn’t really make sense, but we love her anyway so we’ll support this choice.

Other questionable spots on the superlative lists included: Curaçao national team coach Remko Bicentini voted No. 2 Male Coach between Matias Almeyda (led Chivas to Concacaf Champions League title) and former Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio; Jill Ellis voted No. 2 Female Coach between Jamaica’s coach and Mexico’s U-17 national team coach; Cesar Arturo Ramos voted best Male Ref and Lucila Venegas voted best Female Ref when we know there are no good refs in Concacaf

The worst part about all of these Concacaf Awards has to be the Male and Female Best XI teams.

On the Concacaf Male Best XI, you can make a reasonable argument for maybe seven or eight of the players. But a couple of them are so far out of left field that we’re not sure how they were even nominated.

While a lot of people like to shit on Michael Bradley, I’m not typically one of them. But to include him on a list of Best XI in Concacaf after the 2018 he had is asinine. While he helped Toronto FC reach the final of the Concacaf Champions League, the Reds had a deplorable season domestically and Michael Bradley didn’t really do much to help his team. 

Two of the defenders on the Male Best XI are just as confusing. Francisco Calvo captained Minnesota United this past season as a leader in the defense, but Minnesota shipped 71 goals, second-worst in the league. And Calvo is by no means Costa Rica's best defender. Cuco Martina got some playing time on loan with Stoke City in 2018, but he’s a defender for the Curaçao national team, which despite a decent 2018 in the Concacaf Nations League, is the ninth-best team in Concacaf (according to FIFA’s world rankings).

The Concacaf Female Best XI is ... odd. It features a few players who had a good tournament or two, but are by no means the best players in the region, as voters were asked to select.

Two Mexico U-17 players made the team (defender Tanna Sanchez and midfielder Nicole Perez). Mexico reached the final of the U-17 Women’s World Cup before losing to Spain and Perez in particular was outstanding

Similarly, 16-year-old Jamaican winger Jody Brown and the aforementioned Shaw were selected to the Best XI after helping Jamaica qualify for the World Cup for the first time.

Nothing against these players, who certainly performed well at their respective levels of play, but this is a regional Best XI squad — supposedly the best players to play in the region. No rational mind would suggest these players are the absolute best in the region. UEFA doesn't select random youth players for its teams of the year.

How did this happen? Partly because Concacaf let fans weigh in.

The vote for the Concacaf Awards was split evenly in four categories, with each contributing to 25 percent of the vote: Concacaf national team head coaches, Concacaf national team team captains, media and fans. Fans accounting for 25 percent helps explain why two of the top three goals of the year went to Liga MX clubs — though we’re still not sure how Michael Bradley made the Best XI, unless he voted for himself. 

But we shouldn’t lay all the blame on fans. Concacaf used a “panel of experts” to create the nominations. How a player like Laurendi was nominated is unknown.

Nonetheless, congratulations to all the winners — deserved or otherwise. 

2018 Concacaf Awards

Male Player of the Year

1. Hirving Lozano (MEX) - PSV Eindhoven/NED
2. Keylor Navas (CRC) - Real Madrid CF/ESP
3. Sebastian Giovinco (ITA) - Toronto FC/CAN

Female Player of the Year

1. Alex Morgan (USA) - Orlando Pride/USA
2. Khadija Shaw (JAM) - University of Tennessee/USA
3. Lindsey Horan (USA) - Portland Thorns FC/USA

Male Goalkeeper of the Year

1. Keylor Navas (CRC) - Real Madrid CF/ESP
2. Guillermo Ochoa (MEX) - Standard Liège/BEL
3. Cody Laurendi (PUR) - Oklahoma City Energy/USA

Female Goalkeeper of the Year

1. Alyssa Naeher (USA) - Chicago Red Starts/USA
2. Yenith Bailey (PAN) - Sporting SM/PAN
3. Stephanie Labbe (CAN) - Linköpings FC/SWE

Men's Football Coach of the Year

1. Matias Almeyda (ARG) - San Jose Earthquakes/USA (Formerly CD Guadalajara/MEX)
2. Remko Bicentini (CUW) - Curacao National Team
3. Juan Carlos Osorio (COL) - Paraguay National Team (Formerly Mexico National Team)

Women's Football Coach of the Year

1. Hue Menzies (JAM) - Jamaica Women's National Team/Florida Kraze Krush/USA
2. Jill Ellis (USA) - United States Women's National Team
3. Monica Vergara (MEX) - Mexico U-17 Women's National Team

Male Referee of the Year

1. Cesar Arturo Ramos (MEX)
2. Mark Geiger (USA)
3. Joel Aguilar (SLV)

Female Referee of the Year

1. Lucila Venegas (MEX)
2. Crystal Sobers (TRI)
3. Carol Anne Chenard (CAN)

Goal of the Year

1. Joe Corona (MEX) - SCCL: Club America (MEX) vs Tauro FC (PAN), 19'
2. Alan Pulido (MEX) - SCCL: CD Guadalajara (MEX) vs Toronto FC (CAN), 72'
3. Khadija Shaw (JAM) - CWC: Jamaica vs Cuba, 2'

Outstanding Performance Award

Jamaica Women's National Team

Male Best XI

GK - Keylor Navas (CRC) - Real Madrid CF/ESP
DF - Hugo Ayala (MEX) - Tigres UANL/MEX
DF - Edson Alvarez (MEX) - Club America/MEX
DF - Cuco Martina (CUW) - Stoke City FC/ENG
DF - Francisco Calvo (CRC) - Minnesota United FC/USA
MF - Hector Herrera (MEX) - Porto FC/POR
MF - Michael Bradley (USA) - Toronto FC/CAN
MF - Andres Guardado (MEX) - Real Betis/ESP
FW - Hirving Lozano (MEX) - PSV Eindhoven/NED
FW - Bradley Wright-Phillips (ENG) - New York Red Bulls/USA
FW - Sebastian Giovinco (ITA) - Toronto FC/CAN

Female Best XI

GK - Alyssa Naeher (USA) - Chicago Red Starts/USA
DF - Kadeisha Buchanan (CAN) - Olympique Lyonnais/FRA
DF - Crystal Dunn (USA) - NC Courage/USA
DF - Tanna Sanchez (MEX U-17) - Tecnologico de Monterrey Campus Puebla/MEX
DF - Becky Sauerbrunn (USA) - Utah Royals FC/USA
MF - Lindsey Horan (USA) - Portland Thorns/USA
MF - Khadija Shaw (JAM) - University of Tennessee/USA
MF - Nicole Perez (MEX U-17) - CD Guadalajara/MEX
FW - Alex Morgan (USA) - Orlando Pride/USA
FW - Christine Sinclair (CAN) - Portland Thorns/USA
FW - Jody Brown (JAM) - AS Roma/ITA

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