Klinsmann leaves Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi off Ballon d'Or ballot
The consensus was that FIFA's Ballon d'Or finalists -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery -- were the three most deserving players of the top individual award in world soccer this past year. Not in the eyes of U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann, though.
Klinsmann's ballot (every national team coach and captain and select media members from around the world are granted votes for the award, the results of which can be found here) had Franck Ribery, Gareth Bale and Radamel Falcao, respectively, leaving eventual winner Ronaldo and four-time reigning winner Messi out completely. As for U.S. captain Clint Dempsey, he voted for Ronaldo, Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, respectively.
Klinsmann was far from the only one to omit the superstars, though.
Belgium manager Marc Wilmots, for example, opted for Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski and his own player, Eden Hazard, for his top three. Mexico manager Miguel Herrera gave his nod to Bayern Munich trio Ribery, Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm.
Former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, still coaching Egypt when votes were cast, left Messi out, voting for Ronaldo, Ribery and Ibrahimovic.
Both players, in fact, omitted each other. Messi's ballot was full of Barcelona teammates, with him ranking Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Neymar 1-2-3. Ronaldo, meanwhile, voted somewhat along the lines of Klinsmann, opting for Falcao, Real Madrid teammate Bale and former Blancos teammate Mesut Ozil. To each his own.
And then there are those who did not vote at all. Perhaps Klinsmann's omission of Ronaldo will provide more motivation when the USA and Portugal meet in the World Cup; his other opponents in the World Cup group stage shied away from voting. Germany manager Joachim Low and Ghana manager James Kwesi Appiah abstained, as did Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan. Germany skipper Lahm, meanwhile, ranked Ronaldo second, sandwiched in between Ribery and Messi. (Editor's note: Votes were cast prior to the World Cup draw, rendering those specific ballots circumstantial above all else.)