With the calendar year coming to an end, Goal USA is just a day away from presenting its award to the most influential person in American soccer in 2016.
Goal USA editors nominated six people who had the biggest impact on the sport here over the past 12 months, and the winner will be announced Wednesday.
The candidates include U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, Dortmund and U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic, Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank, Seattle Sounders rookie Jordan Morris, former Swansea City coach Bob Bradley, and the five U.S. women's national team players who filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer.
Take a look at why we have selected each person and vote for who you think should win the Goal USA Award using the poll below.
ARTHUR BLANK, ATLANTA UNITED
The owner of MLS expansion side Atlanta United, Arthur Blank has already shaken up the U.S. soccer landscape . Not only did he lockdown a home for the team prior to the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium midway through the 2017 season, he also brought on former Argentina national team and Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino to lead his team on the field. Atlanta United may not be a title contender in its first year, but the roster is shaping up nicely.
The club's marquee signing so far is highly regarded Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron, but it also inked Trinidadian striker Kenwyne Jones and Argentine winger (and young designated player) Hector Villalba, and is expecting the arrival of U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan in January. The team also traded for Michael Parkhurst and landed Zach Loyd in the expansion draft, acquired the No. 8 selection in the upcoming MLS draft, and signed MLS veterans Jeff Larentowicz and Jacob Peterson. To cap things off, Atlanta acquired U.S. international Greg Garza on loan. No bad so far.
BOB BRADLEY, SWANSEA CITY
Bob Bradley's coaching career has taken him around the world. Beginning his professional career in MLS with the Chicago Fire in 1998, Bradley has coached the U.S. and Egypt national teams and had stints with club teams in Norway and France. On Oct. 3, the 58-year-old became the first American to coach a Premier League club, signing with Swansea City.
He took over with the club sitting in 17th place but saw his side drop to 19th, leaving many to question if he had the right experience for the job or if he was hired simply for being an American at a club owned by his compatriots. In any case, Bradley broke the barrier for American coaches, though his run with Swansea lasted just 11 games.
SUNIL GULATI, U.S. SOCCER PRESIDENT
Whether it's good or bad, Sunil Gulati continues to influence American soccer year after year. In 2016, the U.S. Soccer president saw many ups and downs, from his men's national team's success at the Copa America against top South American competition to firing coach Jurgen Klinsmann and rehiring Bruce Arena following a disastrous start to World Cup qualifying.
Gulati has had to deal with a lot, but perhaps his most stressful moment came when five U.S. women's national team players filed a lawsuit against U.S. for wage discrimination and threatened to go on strike. A court eventually ruled in U.S. Soccer's favor to prevent a strike and the U.S. from missing the upcoming Olympics, citing that "the existing CBA with the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association is valid through the end of 2016, including the no-strike, no lockout provision,” according to the federation. Gulati has said he "wants to compensate them fairly."
JORDAN MORRIS, SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Jordan Morris became the poster boy for the MLS homegrown program. After a successful career at Stanford and solidifying his position on the U.S. national team while still in college, the Seattle native passed up an opportunity to play in the Bundesliga to remain at home with the Sounders.
It appears Morris made the correct decision. He scored 12 goals in 34 appearances during his rookie campaign, earning Rookie of the Year honors and winning an MLS championship along the way.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC, BORUSSIA DORTMUND
What if we told you two years ago that there would be an 18-year-old American starting for one of Europe's top teams in one of the world's top leagues, would you have believed us? Well, that has happened thanks to Christian Pulisic. The Hershey, Pennsylvania, native earned a spot in Dortmund's starting XI and has made an impact in both the Bundesliga and Champions League during the 2016-17 season, scoring two goals in 12 appearances in the German top flight.
He was recently named to the UEFA Champions League breakthrough team after playing in all six of Dortmund's group matches this season, including five starts. On the international level, Pulisic became the youngest U.S. international to appear in a World Cup qualifying match and came off the bench in three Copa America matches, as the U.S. finished fourth in the competition.
U.S. WOMEN'S TEAM PLAYERS
A handful of U.S. women's national team players spoke out about the pay discrepancy between them and their male counterparts. Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, citing the federation's 2015 financial report that shows they made a quarter of what the men earned despite being more successful on the pitch.
In early January, the U.S. women submitted a proposal for a new CBA and U.S. Soccer responded by saying it would work with them at the end of the to make sure they're compensated fairly. The U.S. women's players had threatened to strike less before the 2016 Olympics, but the court ruled in U.S. Soccer's favor to prevent the players from holding out.