Best Season: Clint Dempsey, Fulham
And not just the best 2011-12 season, but the best season by an American abroad ever (as documented by SI's Grant Wahl). With 23 goals in all competitions, 17 of which came in Premier League play, Dempsey shattered his own records for an American in England by turning his run of form into a season-long venture. He scored in his final 15 games in all competitions at Craven Cottage, added free-kick prowess to his growing attacking repertoire and finished fourth in England's Football Writers Association Player of the Year voting. All of the attention is already centered on where Dempsey's next move will take him, but it would be unwise to look ahead without reflecting back on a truly remarkable season from start to finish for the U.S. national team star.
Runners-up: Jozy Altidore, AZ Alkmaar; Michael Bradley, Chievo Verona; Sacha Kljestan, RSC Anderlecht; Herculez Gomez, Santos Laguna
Breakout Season: Jozy Altidore
When dealing with as much pressure as Altidore is to become the go-to scorer for his country when his club career has been filled with detours, it's safe to say that he needed this season in the Netherlands badly. Altidore scored 19 goals in all competitions in his first season with AZ Alkmaar. His 15 league goals were good for seventh in the Eredivisie. With a demonstrated improvement on his first touch and hold-up play and a finishing range that extended for some sweet long-distance blasts, the 22-year-old Altidore was able to deliver an emphatic response to some of his harshest critics while settling in at a club that truly feels like home.
Runners-up: Sacha Kljestan, RSC Anderlecht; Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa
Most Notable Return to Prominence: Oguchi Onyewu, Sporting Lisbon
Jurgen Klinsmann said it best following the U.S. national team's match against Ecuador this past October: "Gooch is back."
Now more than two years removed from major left knee surgery, Onyewu returned to the Gooch of old playing center back in Portugal this season after a mixed loan spell to FC Twente from AC Milan in 2011. With Sporting, Onyewu showcased the athleticism and power that made him a dominant figure during the 2010 World Cup cycle. He was a threat on both sides of the field, scoring five goals this season -- one that was sidetracked with an injury to his other knee that required surgery but only shelved him for two months. Onyewu returned toward the end of the campaign and should continue to be a staple in the heart of the national team's back line during an important summer.
As a side, considering Stuart Holden's injury luck in the past two years, here's to the Bolton midfielder -- who has pledged his future to Bolton despite the club being relegated, according to UK media reports -- being the hands-down winner of this faux award next year as he attempts to lead the Trotters back to the top flight.
Runners-up: DaMarcus Beasley, Puebla; Michael Parkhurst, FC Nordsjaelland
Most Disappointing Transfer: Alejandro Bedoya, Rangers
There's no way Bedoya could have known about the degree of financial strife Rangers would endure over the months after sealing his summer transfer from Swedish club Orebro, but between various injuries and having a hard time cracking the lineup when fit, Bedoya's move did not serve him well on the heels of some breakout performances at last summer's Gold Cup. That's not to say things cannot and will not still materialize for the talented, 25-year-old attacking midfielder, who made 13 appearances (six starts) in all competitions and scored one goal. Rangers' expected mass exodus this summer could either open up boatloads of playing time in Glasgow or provide a chance for a fresh beginning elsewhere. The 2011-2012 season, however, was one to forget.
Runners-up: David Yelldell, Bayer Leverkusen; Robbie Rogers, Leeds United
Blossoming Young Pro to Watch: Andrew Wooten, FC Kaiserslautern
Wooten, a 22-year-old German-American, will be given a big role for his German club as it tries to return to the Bundesliga after being relegated this year. Wooten showed glimpses of what he's capable of doing with the first team by scoring his first top-flight goal on the heels of a reserve season in which he found the back of the net 20 times and signed a three-year professional contract with the club. Despite the U.S. Under-20 national team's inability to qualify for last summer's World Cup and the U.S. U-23s' failure to qualify for the Olympics, there are still some gems of up-and-coming talent in the U.S. pipeline, and Wooten is one of them.
Runners-up: Terrence Boyd, Borussia Dortmund; Joe Gyau, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim; Josh Gatt, Molde FK; Joe Corona, Tijuana
There's more to the article, with "summer storylines" towards the bottom that mentions Dempsey.