Four others honored in second-annual Confederation Awards
Miami (Tuesday, December 23, 2014) – The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) today named Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas and Abby Wambach of the United States the 2014 CONCACAF Male and Female Players of the Year, as the Confederation revealed honorees in six different categories for the second-annual CONCACAF Awards.
In an equally-weighted vote among Member Association women’s and men’s national team coaches and captains, media and fans, Real Madrid goalkeeper Navas comfortably outdistanced countryman Bryan Ruiz, the second-place finisher in the Male Player of the Year category.
Wambach, who last year finished second to fellow U.S. international Alex Morgan in the Female Player of the Year vote, this year edged out Shirley Cruz of the Costa Rica Women’s National Team and club side Paris St. Germain (FRA) for the top women’s honor.
In the other categories, Tim Howard (Everton & United States) was named as Goalkeeper of the Year for a second straight year, Jorge Luis Pinto won Coach of the Year for his exploits at the helm of the Costa Rican National Team, American Mark Geiger was named Referee of the Year and Bryan Ruiz’s historic World Cup strike against Italy in June was adjudged to be CONCACAF’s Goal of the Year.
The CONCACAF Awards are designed to honor the year’s outstanding performers and achievements in confederation-sanctioned competitions involving national teams at all levels and age categories, including FIFA World Cup matches and qualifying for both genders. Performances also eligible for recognition included those achieved in professional club football leagues within the CONCACAF Member Associations, as well as the CONCACAF Champions League.
The votes of three important stake-holding segments within the Confederation were counted in compiling the results. Member Associations’ national team coaches and captains (women’s and men’s), accredited media and fans each accounted for one third of the final vote.
A semifinal list of 10 nominees in each category was determined by a vote of Technical Directors from each of CONCACAF’s 41 Member Associations and the CONCACAF Technical Study Group, which analyzes tactics and rates performances at all official CONCACAF tournaments.
Here’s a closer look at each of the categories:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Keylor Navas, Goalkeeper (Real Madrid/ESP & Costa Rica)
Second: Bryan Ruiz, Forward (Fulham FC/ENG & Costa Rica)
Third: Tim Howard, Goalkeeper (Everton/ENG & United States)
Navas was the standout goalkeeper at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and followed up that outstanding performance with a high profile transfer to La Liga heavyweight Real Madrid.
FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Abby Wambach, Forward (Western New York Flash/USA & United States)
Second: Shirley Cruz, Midfielder (Paris Saint Germain/FRA & Costa Rica)
Third: Veronica Charlyn Corral (Merilappi United/FIN & Mexico)
Wambach enjoyed an outstanding season for both club and country, highlighted by a four-goal performance in the championship match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, during which she led her nation to victory over second place finisher Shirley Cruz and Costa Rica.
GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Tim Howard (Everton/ENG & United States)
Second: Guillermo Ochoa (Malaga/ESP & Mexico)
Third: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid/ESP & Costa Rica)
While these three CONCACAF goalkeepers all shone in Brazil, Howard’s sensational play proved to be pivotal for the United States at the 2014 World Cup. In a 2-1 extra time knockout round loss to Belgium, the Everton goalkeeper set a World Cup individual game record for saves.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jorge Luis Pinto (Costa Rica)
Second: Luis Fernando Suarez (Honduras)
Third: Oscar Ramirez (LD Alajuelense/CRC)
Costa Rica’s exceptional quarterfinal run at the World Cup – coming up just short of the semis after a shootout loss to Holland – was more than enough to comfortably assure Pinto the CONCACAF Coach of the Year award.
REFEREE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Mark Geiger (USA)
Second: Marco Antonio Rodriguez (Mexico)
Third: Walter Quesada (Costa Rica)
Mark Geiger refereed three matches at the 2014 World Cup, including the Round of 16 match between France and Nigeria. He was also selected as the man in the middle for the 2014 MLS Cup earlier this month in Los Angeles. Geiger was additionally named 2014 Major League Soccer Referee of the Year.
GOAL OF THE YEAR
Winner: Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica v Italy, 44th minute (June 20, 2014)
Second: Esteban Ramirez, Herediano v Saprissa, 20th minute (November 2, 2014)
Third: Joel Campbell, Costa Rica v Uruguay, 54th minute (June 14, 2014)
After an opening match defeat of traditional South American power Uruguay, Bryan Ruiz’s 44th minute strike against Italy set Costa Rica on the road to another scalping of one of world football’s giants, and proved a pivotal moment in the CONCACAF side’s enthralling World Cup quarterfinal run.