MIAMI: Bryan Ruiz and Alex Morgan have been voted players of the year for 2016 by central/north American confederation CONCACAF.
In ballots among member associations’ respective national team coaches/captains, media and fans, Morgan captured the women’s award for the second time and Ruiz the men’s prize for the first.
Ruiz enjoyed a successful 2016 campaign with club and country. The 31-year-old was key in Sporting Lisbon’s run to a runner-up spot in the 2015-16 Portuguese Primeira Liga and a berth in the UEFA Champions League.
He also helped Costa Rica to a first-place finish in Group B in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup — scoring in a 3-0 win over Jamaica — and played in all three of the Ticos’ games in the Copa America Centenario.
Morgan — recipient of inaugural CONCACAF award for the region’s top female player in 2013 — finished level with Carli Lloyd as the US’ joint-top scorer in 2016 on 17 goals, including five in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic qualifying championship and two in the Women’s Olympic football tournament.
She also netted four goals in 15 games for the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League before undertaking a six-month loan with top European club Lyon.
Winners in other categories are: Goalkeepers of the Year – Keylor Navas and Ashlyn Harris; Coaches of the Year – Óscar Ramírez and Amelia Valverde; Referees of the Year – César Arturo Ramos and Carol Anne Chenard; Goal of the Year – Jesús Corona, in the 80th minute of the Copa America Centenario match vs. Venezuela.
A new ‘outstanding performance’ award went to the Canadian women’s team and coach John Herdman, bronze medallists at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.