Dempsey outlasted finalists Michael Bradley and Tim Howard for the 2012 honors, scoring a USA-high six goals in nine appearances to gain the majority of the recognition from the 183 journalists who voted. Five of those goals came in World Cup qualifying, as he helped the United States reach the CONCACAF hexagonal, the region's final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
For Bradley and Howard, being finalists is nothing new. Bradley, who is enjoying a strong campaign in his first year at Serie A power AS Roma, has been a finalist twice since 2010. Howard, whose Everton is tied with Tottenham on points but has an edge on goal differential for fourth place in the Premier League, has been a finalist five times since 2007.