TAMPA, Fla. – The numbers may not have matched those of 2019, but once again it was impossible to overlook the impact that Phoenix Rising FC’s Solomon Asante had on his side’s success.
The Ghanaian playmaker for a second time was voted the 2020 Championship Most Valuable Player, becoming the second player to claim the award twice in the league’s history. Asante follows in the footsteps of current Minnesota United FC forward Kevin Molino, who earned the award in the 2012 and 2014 seasons.
And in a way, there are parallels between the two. Last season, Asante became only the second player following Molino in 2014 to lead the Championship’s regular season in both goals and assists. This year, Asante notched his second consecutive assists crown with nine helpers on the season, but only recorded six goals. It was reminiscent of Molino’s 2012 campaign, where despite only recording three goals and seven assists the Trinidad & Tobago international won the award.
Nowadays, though, we have additional numbers that measure the influence that Asante has had on Phoenix’s success. In addition to leading the league in assists, the 30-year-old former Ghanaian international led the Championship with 42 chances created in the regular season and tied for the league-lead with nine Big Chances Created according to Opta. He also finished fourth in the league with 23 shots on goal, and sixth in the league with 52 shots.
As with Molino before him, though, it’s not purely down to the numbers Asante puts up. There’s a sense of anticipation whenever he collects the ball in an attacking situation to see what he will produce this time. His play has also made him a focal point for opposing teams who know how crucial he has been to Rising FC on the field.
Having now notched more than 40 goals and 30 assists in three seasons with Phoenix, however, the 5-foot-2 dynamo continued to thrive this season in the desert, and may for more seasons to come.
Asante earned 22 percent of the vote to win the award. Louisville City FC’s Cameron Lancaster finished second on 15 percent, while the Charlotte Independence’s Dane Kelly finished third on seven percent. Twenty-four players in total received votes for the award.
The 2020 USL Championship Awards were voted on by team technical staffs and executives and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL Championship market. Voting was conducted following the conclusion of the 2020 Championship regular season.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Ben Lundt, Louisville City FC
Defender of the Year: Forrest Lasso, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Coach of the Year: Troy Lesesne, New Mexico United & Ian Russell, Reno 1868 FC
Young Player of the Year: Wilson Harris, Sporting Kansas City II
Most Valuable Player: Solomon Asante, Phoenix Rising FC
2011: Yordany Alvarez, Orlando City SC
2012: Kevin Molino, Orlando City SC
2013: Jose Angulo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
2014: Kevin Molino, Orlando City SC
2015: Matt Fondy, Louisville City FC
2016: Sean Okoli, FC Cincinnati
2017: Dane Kelly, Reno 1868 FC
2018: Emmanuel Ledesma, FC Cincinnati
2019: Solomon Asante, Phoenix Rising FC