Here's the deserving winner for U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year

Here's the deserving winner for U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year

It's that time of year again, the season for anointing the best players of the past 12 months.

On Monday, the United States Soccer Federation released its short list for its Male Player of the Year Award. But whereas the choices abound on the women's side – having won the 2015 Women's World Cup and all, leaving just about every team member with a solid case to win the thing – calling any one American man the Player of the Year is trickier.

In spite of historic away wins in friendlies over the Netherlands and Germany, it was a difficult year for the U.S. men's national team. The Gold Cup was a failure and the playoff for a spot at the 2017 Confederations Cup was lost to Mexico. And then followed somewhat unconvincing qualifiers against puny St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a 6-1 win in which the Americans actually went behind, and a 0-0 draw against Trinidad and Tobago.

A few young players asserted themselves. Bobby Wood came off the bench to score late winners against the Dutch and the Germans, and he got an extra-time equalizer against Mexico. Gyasi Zardes worked himself into the lineup and continued to show promise – even though, at 24, he isn't really a prospect anymore. Darlington Nagbe made his debut and impressed – but, again, he's already 25.

Most of the veterans, however, were caught in the general torpor afflicting the team. Many turned in a year that fell somewhere between meh and OK. Still, one man must win, so let's assess their cases.

Michael Bradley

Bradley
Bradley

Bradley became the captain, earned his 100th cap and played in 18 of 20 caps, leading the team in minutes and assists (with six, his career USMNT-high). He was Man of the Match against the Netherlands and Germany and generally acquitted himself well despite head coach Jurgen Klinsmann shuffling him between attacking and more conservative roles in central midfield.

Clint Dempsey

Dempsey
Dempsey

Deuce lost the captaincy in the wake of an ugly incident with his Seattle Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup but returned to lead the team with nine goals while playing in just 10 of 20 games. He now stands at 48 in his U.S. career, nine behind all-time leader Landon Donovan. His seven Gold Cup goals earned him the Golden Boot, as he demonstrated that his creative spark and finishing are still indispensible to the Yanks.

Brad Guzan

Guzan
Guzan

When Tim Howard announced a year-long national team sabbatical after the World Cup, there was never much concern for the national team since Guzan, the long-time understudy, was ready to step in. He did not disappoint. And although his carrying the ball outside of his area conceded the free kick that would knock the Americans out of the Gold Cup, he was nevertheless named the Golden Glove winner for that tournament.

Fabian Johnson

Johnson
Johnson

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher. Johnson had as many wobbles as good moments in 2015. And while he excelled for his club, Borussia Moenchengladbach in both the Bundesliga and Champions League, his year for the U.S. was forgettable. Klinsmann even felt compelled to put him on blast to the press and essentially suspend him from the team for a game when Johnson requested a substitution during extra time against Mexico, even though he wasn't injured. Zardes would probably have made for a more sensible inclusion on this list, since he was tied for most appearances on the team, made the second-most starts, got the second-most assists and scored the third-most goals.

DeAndre Yedlin

Yedlin
Yedlin

Yedlin led the team in appearances with Zardes at 19, although just 10 of those were starts. His five assists were second-most on the team and his speed on the flank or out of the back was an asset. But he, too, feels like a throw-in on this list, as he's hardly a foundational player yet at this point.

FC Yahoo's winner is: Michael Bradley.

He may not have been in the very best form of his life, but he was his usual dependable self and captained the team ably through some difficult days. And, frankly, he is long overdue to win this award, which he has somehow never gotten before.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.