Group Stage Game of the Year: Mongolia vs. Haiti
Voted on by the staff, the Group Stage Game of the Year goes to Mongolia versus Haiti! This was a match for the last spot to advance out of Group B. Right before the game kicked off, Guinea defeated Colombia, making this matchup between Mongolia and Haiti crucial: Mongolia needed to win to advance, while Haiti needed to come away with a point.
Haiti took a 2-1 lead late into the second half. But in the 72nd minute, Haiti allowed an own goal, tying the game and giving Mongolia some life. In the 90th minute, Mongolia shocked Haiti with not one but two goals, stealing the point that Haiti needed to advance out of their hands. Haiti was able to add a goal to cut the deficit to one, with one final attack, but lost the game. This exciting game saw four goals in the final 20 minutes of play, making it worthy of Group Stage Game of the Year.
Knockout Round Game of the Year: Ukraine vs. Mali
The Best Game of the Knockout Round goes to the first round matchup between the 13th-seeded Mali and the 18th-seeded Ukraine. This game saw a lot of shots on net, but not much scoring due to the stellar goaltending, especially from Ukraine’s Pavlo Shelever. Pavlo made many incredible saves, but allowed a game-tying goal in the 74th minute. At the end of the game, penalty kicks were needed to decide a winner.
In penalty kicks, Ukraine was able to convert on each opportunity, and their goalie made another great save. Thus, Mali was knocked out of the tournament. Unlike in the Group Stage Game of the Year, not many goals were scored here, but great goaltender play made this game our Best Game of the Knockout Round.
Forward of the Year: Seydou Ba, Ivory Coast
No surprise here: the Forward of the Year Award goes to Golden Boot winner Seydou Ba, who led the tournament in goals scored. He very well may have changed the championship game’s outcome if it wasn’t for his injury in the first 10 minutes of play.
Midfielder of the Year: Liam O’Donnell, Ireland
Not only did Liam O’Donnell’s talent help Ireland on the field, but his level headedness kept them in check. Liam was arguably one of the toughest players in the tournament: he took a cleat to the face and wanted to continue playing with blood pouring out of his lip in the knockout round game versus Ghana.
Defender of the Year: Kevin Curran, United States
Not only was Kevin Curran a vocal presence in the back of the lineup for USA, but he also made Bob Mastrillo’s job as goalie much easier. He always made the right play, and gave USA goal-scoring opportunities on countless throw-ins.
Goalie of the Year: Pavlo Shelever, Ukraine
This man saves everything, all while revolutionizing the goalie uniform—he rocked the backwards white hat and long sleeves in 90-degree heat. Pavlo was a huge part of Ukraine’s win over Mali in the knockout round, making several incredible saves and keeping the game scoreless until very late in the match.
Coach of the Year: Enrique Salinas, Belize
The Unity Cup staff would like to recognize Coach Enrique Salinas of the Belizean team as the Coach of the Year. Coach Enrique led his team to the quarterfinals in their first year in the tournament and was present at each and every event of the tournament. He and his team are a wonderful addition to the Unity Cup.
Surprise Team of the Year: Nigeria
A team that failed to make it out of the group stage last year found themselves dominating Group A and entering the knockout round as the #9 overall seed. With a thrilling win in their first round game over Mongolia, Nigeria only fell short to a very talented USA team.
Fan of the Year: Sergey Gorbachik
We are very thankful to have such loyal fans, but we must take the time to honor one fan in particular! We would like to award the Fan of the Year to Sergey Gorbachik. Sergey is at every Team Ukraine game supporting his son, shouting at the refs, and cheering in Ukrainian. He truly is a die-hard fan!
Memorable Tournament Moments
- Jamaica’s extra time goal vs. Morocco in the group stage
- Ghana’s march in the Parade of Nations
- Vietnam’s first Unity Cup group stage win in three years
- Enzo of Saudi Arabia‘s impressive three-game stretch in his group stage games
- El Salvador making a statement in week 1 of the group stage by beating Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Nigeria and Mongolia’s extra time thriller in the knockout round
- Ireland’s Liam O’Donnell’s 40-yard laser that found the back of the net vs. Ivory Coast
- Belize’s statement win vs. Lithuania in the group stage