For some it was a year to remember, for others it's a year they'd like to forget, but regardless of how you view it 2016 was an incredibly exciting year of soccer. But no year would be complete without some really cool, totally credible, not at all fabricated, super awesome 2016 Ruffneck Awards.
Kei Kamara (New England Revolution)- Haters are gonna hate, and maybe give you a yellow card… but keep on dancing Kei! During a Decision Day goal celebration Kei Kamara gave his fans a little taste of his dancing skill in the form of a booty popping twerk. The official, obviously insanely jealous of his dancing prowess, booked Kamara for excessive celebration. He must have known he was going toing to win the Ruffneck Best Dancer award and was celebrating early…
Most Likely To Succeed:
FC Cincinnati (USL)- 2016 was FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season but from the packed stands and quality of play, you would have never know it. Over the course of the season FC Cincy demolished attendance records, then unsatisfied with that they obliterated the record they had already broke. Their final match of the season set the final single game attendance record drawing 24,376 fans, rocketing their final season average 17,296 (larger than a handful of 1st tier MLS clubs). A friendly between FC Cincinnati and EPL’s Crystal Palace over the summer drew a sold out crowd, and became the largest soccer audience in Ohio state history. Combine the incredible fan base and obvious team support with the fact the team made a run to the playoffs in its first year, there is no doubt that we will be seeing a lot more FC Cincy in the future.
Best Dressed (Player):
Andrea Pirlo (NYCFC)- Take notes guys, this 37 year old Italian stallion knows a thing or two about cleaning himself up, after all no one said football has to be frumpy. Pirlo has been spotted all over New York styled in modern suits to cool and casual duds that have inspired blogs, Pinterest boards, and swooning middle aged women. From the beard, to the hair, to his accent, to his clothes… Let’s face it no one else even has a chance.
Best Dressed (Club):
Kingston Stockade FC (NPSL)- First impressions matter, and Stockade FC they dressed to impress in their inaugural season. Black and white is the most classic color combination around, and is by far the easiest to mess up. Stockades’s 2016 kit was a perfect marriage of traditional design with modern influence, and the bright pop of orange was just enough to add edge without being distracting. The vertical grey bars seamlessly incorporated aspects of their team crest, and overall I don’t think this kit could get any better.
Most Inspirational Player:
Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride/USWNT)- Anyone who is familiar with Ashlyn Harris’s story knows she had a trying childhood filled with addiction, poverty, and mental illness. Soccer has been an invaluable tool to help her cope and escape from the harshness of reality. Fast forward to 2016, Harris has turned her past struggles with addiction and depression into a tool for helping others overcome their own personal demons. She is heavily involved with the non-profit “To Write Love on Your Arms,” which supports people seeking treatment for depression, addiction, self-harm, and suicide, as well as various other humanitarian projects around the world. Most recently she returned from a trip to Liberia to work with Monrovia Football Academy, were she worked with children to help develop confidence, skills, and a sense of purpose through soccer. Many people connect with Ashlyn’s story on a personal level, and her courage to continue to share her story has helped countless others to accept themselves, realize that it’s okay to need help sometimes, and to have the courage to love their flaws. Ashlyn Harris was honored this year as the NWSL’s 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year, proving that it doesn’t matter where you came from, it only matters where you’re going.
Biggest Social Media Troll:
Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union/USMNT)- Bedoya has certainly made a name for himself online, and no it’s not for his delicious food pictures on Instagram. Over the course of the year Bedoya has become notorious for stirring up controversy and sharing his unfiltered opinions online. From comments on the Abby Wambach DUI scandal in April, to a straight up public show down with former USMNT legend and FOX Sports analyst Eric Wynalda. He even went as far as to take a jab at Wynalda’s wife’s 98’ affair with his USMNT teammate… low blow man, low blow. If you’re looking to follow Bedoya’s social media adventures you can probably find him under a bridge somewhere, but you may have to pay a troll toll. Or you can just find him on Twitter for free @AleBedoya17
Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns/USWNT)- We have a pretty good source that can confirm that the only spice found in Tobin Heath's cupboard is nutmeg, and it seems she gets her best practice by toying with her teammates.
Most Likely to Have Matching Outfits with Their Dog:
Stefan Frei- When Frei wasn't making the save of his career during the MLS Cup final, he was spending his year snapping pics of his wrinkly pooches. We can hardly blame him for his puppy obsession, his Shar-Peis' Nala and Cloi are almost too much rolly-polly cuteness to handle. Frei has even picked a day of the week to dedicate to their adorableness; #WrinkleWednesday. Next instagram post will no doubt be a full family photo, complete with matching sweaters.