The Canadian Soccer Association have handed out their awards for the 2013 calendar year and there are very few surprise winners among the group. The award week kicked off with Liam Stanley being named the Para Soccer Player of the Year and capped off with the male and female players off the year being named.
The awards in the Under-17 level were won by Marco Carducci and Surra Yekka. For Carducci it was his second year in a row being named the top Canadian male player under 17 and the sixth straight year that a Vancouver Whitecaps residency player won the award. Carducci now joins Bryce Alderson and Russell Teibert as Caps products who have won the year in back-to-back years.
Carducci beat out Hanson Boakai and Jordan Hamilton in the coaches vote but all three of those players could have staked a claim to the award based on what they achieved in 2013. Carducci won for backstopping the Canadians to a strong showing in the U-17 World Cup this fall as his saves played a big part in keeping Canada competitive in a tough group. Boakai had a strong resume that included controlling the midfield for Canada at the World Cup and being the youngest ever player in NASL while Hamilton spent the year leading the way for Canada and without his scoring efforts they probably miss out on the World Cup or at the very least come home without a single point.
On the female side of things the vote came down to Surra Yekka and Jessie Fleming. Yekka wound up winning the award in large part due to her emergence with the senior national team in recent months. She missed out on the U-17 CONCACAF Championship because she was training and playing with the senior team but apparently that did not matter to voters as her impressive showings in a limited sample at the senior level were enough to put her ahead of Canada's best player at the U-17 Championship. Fleming was Canada's top player in that event and the country's top prospect moving forward but she did not get her first national team call until after voting had been conducted and has yet to make her debut. The good news for Fleming is that she is 15-years-old and she has plenty of time left to win awards.
The U-20 awards for 2013 went to Dylan Carreiro and Kadeisha Buchanan who both turned in impressive 2013 campaigns. Carreiro's year has left him on the verge of breaking into the senior national team and the first team at QPR but while he waits he has made the most of his opportunities. He has been one of the top players on QPR's U-23 team and impressed every time he pulled on the Canadian shirt. Carreiro was one of the top players for Canada in a fairly disappointing U-20 CONCACAF Championships that saw the team miss out on a place in the World Cup.
The runners-up for the award where Samuel Piette who continues to get chances with the national team and Samuel Adekugbe who did well on international duty and signed his first home grown contract with the Vancouver Whitecaps this year. The surprise is that Doneil Henry was nowhere to be seen in the top three despite running away with the award in 2012 and being the only player eligible who was a regular with the National Team and playing heavy minutes at the professional level.
Buchanan winning the award on the female side should come as a surprise to no-one who has been watching this year. She turned in impressive seasons for her club, Toronto Lady Lynx, and college, West Virginia University, but what really put her over the top was that she stepped into the centre of John Herdman's defence as a teenager early in the year and has not looked out of place even when going up against some of the world's best forwards in the women's game. A pair of her Lynx teammates round out the top three with Ashley Lawrence finishing second and Kailen Sheridan third.
The top prizes went to Will Johnson on the men's side with Christine Sinclair once again bringing home the female prize. Will Johnson edged out Atiba Hutchinson, Patrice Bernier, and Russell Teibert for the award while Sinclair beat out Diana Matheson, Erin McLeod, and Desiree Scott to continue he streak of dominating the award.
Johnson won the award this year primarily on the back of his impressive MLS season for the Portland Timbers. He was absent from the national team for most of 2013 while focusing on playing for his club which did not sit well with some voters. When he was with Canada in 2013 he did not really impress but he more than made up for that by turning in a very strong MLS season that saw him included in the league's Best XI for the year as one of the top midfielders.
It is the first time that Will Johnson has won the award as he edged out Hutchinson who was looking to be named player of the year for the third time. If not for the time he missed due to injury Hutch, arguably Canada's most talented player, could very well have claimed back-to-back Canadian Player of the Year awards but his absences opened the door for another player to win this year.
The female side has been dominated by Christine Sinclair for a complete decade now as she has won this award on 10 consecutive occasions and 11 times in total. Even when she has a down year by her lofty standards like she did in 2013 she remains one of the best players in the World. Her biggest achievement this past year was helping to lead the Portland Timbers to the inaugural NWSL championship. She was also inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame, a Finalist for FIFA's Women's Player of the Year, and made her 200th appearance at the international level. It may not have been her best year but it was still a very good one.
In the end, you have seven deserving winners taking home the awards this year. There were a couple of tight races along the way and maybe a surprise or two but on the whole it is hard to disagree with any of these choices.