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Tim Howard Voted 2014 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year

CHICAGO (Nov. 20, 2014) – Goalkeeper Tim Howard has been voted the 2014 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, with the announcement taking place earlier today live on ESPN’s SportsCenter. This is Howard’s second time winning AOTY, previously earning the honor in 2008.

The three-time FIFA World Cup veteran becomes the fifth player to win Male Athlete of the Year on multiple occasions, joining defender Marcelo Balboa (1992, 1994), goalkeeper Kasey Keller (1997, 1999 and 2005), forward Landon Donovan (2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010) and forward Clint Dempsey (2007, 2011 and 2012).

“It’s an honor. I know the winners on the list who have come before me, so it’s special to have my name up there,” Howard said on SportsCenter. “The whole ride with the team for about a month and a half, when we got together for training camp and we flew down to Brazil, we had a really good time and that made 2014 so special to me.”

A new voting process took place this year, with votes collected from Men’s National Team players earned a cap in 2014, Men’s National Team and Youth Men’s National Team coaches, Major League Soccer and North American Soccer League head coaches and select former players, administrators and media members.

Howard received 64 percent of the tabulated votes, followed by Jermaine Jones (19 percent) and Kyle Beckerman (11 percent).

This year, Howard became the USA’s all-time leader in career wins with 55 (breaking Keller’s record of 53) and goalkeeper appearances with 104 (breaking Keller’s record of 102). Howard also had a memorable 2014 FIFA World Cup that included a tournament-record 15 saves during the USA’s 2-1 overtime loss to Belgium in the first knockout round on July 1.

The U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year has been awarded since 1984, when midfielder Rick Davis earned the first Athlete of the Year honor.

Also on Thursday, U.S. Soccer unveiled its nominees for 2014 Young Male Athlete of the Year, Young Female Athlete of the Year and Disabled Athlete of the Year. The nominees in each category are:

  • Young Male Athlete of the Year Nominees: Mukwelle Akale, midfielder; Emerson Hyndman, midfielder; Christian Pulisic, midfielder; Haji Wright, forward; DeAndre Yedlin, defender (A Look at the Nominees)
  • Young Female Athlete of the Year Nominees: Morgan Brian, midfielder; Rose Lavelle, midfielder; Samantha Mewis, midfielder; Mallory Pugh, midfielder; Katelyn Rowland, goalkeeper (A Look at the Nominees)
  • Disabled Athlete of the Year Nominees: Meghan Maiwald, Deaf Soccer; Natalie Russo, Power Soccer; Gavin Sibayan, Paralympic Soccer (A Look at the Nominees)

The nominees for U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year will be unveiled in the coming days.

Academy Product Morris Makes National Team Leap

The U.S. Men’s National Team dropped its final game of the year against the Republic of Ireland at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Yet, with every negative comes a positive, and in the case of Development Academy alum and current Stanford University striker Jordan Morris, the game versus Ireland represented a truly special night.

Morris came in the game during the second-half as a substitution in the 76th minute. The moment marked his debut with the MNT.

“Obviously it wasn't the result we wanted,” Morris said of the game. “But it's something I've been dreaming of since I was a little kid, so it was an unbelievable honor and a great experience.”

Morris, who scored a game-winner for the U.S. U-23 MNT against the Bahamas in August, was named the 2012-13 Development Academy Player of the Year for the U-18 age group while playing for the Seattle Sounders FC Academy. He is the first active college player to be included on a roster under Klinsmann.

“I was super excited,” Morris said of being called into the MNT roster. “Talking to Jurgen, he stresses patience, and I think that that's a thing you've got to learn, especially moving up in the ranks, that there are such good players all over the place, so it's going to be tough to get on the field. I was definitely itching to get on and was going to make the most of it when I did get on. I'm happy it happened. It was really exciting.”

Morris’ Academy ties and his incredible success at Stanford, the 2014 Pac-12 Champions, have allowed him to become one of the new youngsters that Klinsmann is excited to keep challenging on the path toward the next World Cup.  

“We’re happy for some that made kind of their starts today,” said Klinsmann of the fresh faces that played against Ireland. “Whether it’s Jordan Morris or Bill Hamid from the start in goal, those are the experiences they need, the younger ones, so we’ll take it.”

Also excited to see new faces get their first taste of what it means to play in the National Team is veteran forward Jozy Altidore, who despite only being 25 years old, is one of the players Klinsmann hopes can share some advice and help this new group be successful.

”I remember my first cap and how special it was for me, what I took with it, along in my career. I'm honored that I get to see now a lot of these guys come through and have that same experience.”

The ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’

It’s rare that the course of history is changed in a moment. But with one swing of Paul Caligiuri's left leg, that’s what happened on a bumpy field one steamy afternoon in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on Nov. 19, 1989.

It was the final game of a grueling 10-game qualifying march to the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and the Americans had scored just nine goals in the previous nine matches. More than half of those came in one game, a 5-1 victory against Jamaica in the second game of qualifying. The USA was coming off consecutive 0-0 ties, against Guatemala at home and El Salvador on the road, and needed a win to qualify for a World Cup tournament for the first time in 40 years.

The stadium was jammed to the brim – a full six hours before the match – with Trinidadians who were swathed in red and poised for a celebration the likes of which the island had never seen. The match was played on a Sunday and the government had even declared the following Monday a national holiday in preemptive celebration of qualifying for the nation’s first-ever World Cup.

But it was the Americans on whom fortune smiled. In the 30th minute, Caligiuri, who was playing midfield in that match, took a simple square pass from Tab Ramos, controlled the bouncing ball with his midsection and ran toward goal. He took a big windup with his right leg, freezing a defender, cut the ball to the inside and struck a left-footed half-volley from about 30 yards that looped and dipped forcefully into the lower right corner for a goal.

 

The goal was one of just five Caligiuri scored in his National Team career and, although he would also score in the first match of the 1990 World Cup, it was surely his most important.

Now known as the “shot heard ‘round the world,” Caliguiri’s goal has reverberated through the generations in U.S. Soccer history. It’s not a stretch to say it is one of the most important goals in U.S. history as it started a run of seven consecutive World Cup appearances and counting. A run, perhaps unthinkable 30 years ago, that has spurred the exponential growth of the game in the United States.

“It was a stunning goal,” said long-time soccer broadcast J.P. Dellacamera, who called the game from Port-of-Spain for ESPN. “To me, it’s the goal that defined soccer in this country. If he doesn’t score there, if they don’t win there, I don’t think everything else that’s happened would have happened quite the same way.”

U.S. MNT Falls 4-1 to Republic of Ireland to Close out 2014 Campaign

DUBLIN, Republic of Ireland (Nov. 18, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 4-1 to the Republic of Ireland in front of 33,332 spectators at Aviva Stadium to finish its 2014 campaign. Mix Diskerud’s fifth-career goal was the high point of the match for the USA, which conceded three unanswered goals in the second half. 

Anthony Pilkington opened the scoring for Ireland early in the first half before Robbie Brady scored two second-half goals, and James McClean capped the scoring with a second-half tally. 

The USA finishes the year with a 6-5-4 record, and Ireland continued its stronghold in Dublin with a 5-0-0 all-time record against the U.S. at its home site. 

The U.S. hit the woodwork twice, with Fabian Johnson’s 21st-minute attempt grazing the right post and Jozy Altidore’s 43rd-minute shot from the middle of the box ricocheting off of the crossbar. 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
IRL – Anthony Pilkington (David McGoldrick), 7th minute: After the USA lost the ball in the midfield, Ireland countered with McGoldrick playing a through ball toward Pilkington, in between the USA’s center back pairing of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron. Pilkington had a couple steps on Besler on the right side, and Bill Hamid left his line to try to beat Pilkington to the ball. However, Pilkington won that battle and chipped over Hamid and into the right side of the frame for an early lead. USA 0, IRL 1 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Mix Diskerud (Chris Wondolowski), 39th minute: Ireland captain David Meyler coughed up the ball in the midfield, and Alfredo Morales started the attack for the USA. After trying to find Wondolowski initially in the box, Morales’ pass deflected toward the left side of the box to Jozy Altidore. Altidore crossed back in, connecting with Wondolowski who headed the ball to Diskerud. With the sole of his boot, Diskerud’s karate-like shot slotted into the right side of the frame. It was Diskerud’s third goal of the year and fifth of his career. USA 1, IRL 1 (SEE GOAL) 

IRL – Robbie Brady (David McGoldrick), 55th minute: The USA defense lost the ball near the corner flag and Ireland capitalized, crossing the ball in from the left side to McGoldrick at the top of the box. McGoldrick’s slick, back-heel pass opened the field for Brady on the left side of the six-yard box and he shot in between Bill Hamid’s legs to regain the lead. USA 1, IRL 2 (SEE GOAL) 

IRL – James McClean, 82nd minute: Ireland put the match out of reach with McClean’s long-distance, left-footed shot from about 25 yards out. His shot took a deflection off of U.S. defender Geoff Cameron. Bill Hamid was diving to his left and tried to react in time to make a save with his leg, but the ball found its way into the back of the net. USA 1, IRL 3 (SEE GOAL) 

IRL – Robbie Brady, 86th minute: Brady’s left-footed free kick from 25 yards out sailed over the USA’s five-man wall and was placed perfectly into the upper left corner, well out of reach for a diving Bill Hamid. USA 1, IRL 4 (SEE GOAL) (FINAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
IRL – Alex Pearce, 20th minute: USA midfielder Alejandro Bedoya fought off Ireland’s defense to put in a cross from the right end line, eying Jozy Altidore at the far left post. Pearce intercepted with the header to surrender a U.S. corner kick.

USA – Bill Hamid, 27th minute: Ireland’s midfield lofted the ball toward the edge of the box, where the USA appeared to have control of the situation with numbers near the ball. However, the U.S. lost the ball to Ireland midfielder Daryl Murphy who shot from 10 yards out with a clear look at the goal. Hamid made himself big and stopped Murphy’s shot. 

IRL – Shay Given, 50th minute: Jozy Altidore had ample space when he shot from just outside 20 yards. Given anticipated the shot going the opposite direction, but he reacted in time to make the foot save and stave off the USA’s early attack in the second half. 

USA – Fabian Johnson, 78th minute: Ireland second-half sub Shane Long was all by himself to cross from the right side, but Johnson tracked back to clear the ball away from the far left side. The ball deflected off of USA defender Matt Besler for an Ireland corner kick. 

IRL – Shay Given, 81st minute: Forward Jordan Morris, making his U.S. MNT debut, had an immediate impact with a the dribble down the left side and cross to Greg Garza in the box. Garza shot from about nine yards out and Given kicked out a foot to make the save. It turned out to be an important moment for Ireland, which was hanging onto a one-goal lead and ended up scoring an insurance goal just one minute later. 

Additional Notes:

  • The U.S. is 2-5-2 all-time against the Republic of Ireland.
  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup featured Bill Hamid in goal. Hamid earned his second cap and start. His only previous appearance was during the USA’s 1-0 victory against Venezuela on Jan. 21, 2012, when he became the last U.S. goalkeeper to post a shutout in his first appearance.
  • The starting back line featured Timmy Chandler on the left, Fabian Johnson on the right and Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron at center back. Johnson was a starting midfielder against Colombia and switched to right back to open the second half of that match.
  • The USA’s starting midfield in a 4-1-3-2 formation included Kyle Beckerman in a holding role, Alfredo Morales and Alejandro Bedoya on the outside and Mix Diskerud in the middle. Bedoya earned his team-leading 12rth cap of 2014, and Morales earned his first start in his fifth overall appearance.
  • The starting front line featured team captain Jozy Altidore and Chris Wondolowski.
  • The USA is now 2-1-0 when Altidore wears the captain’s armband.
  • Among the USA substitutions against Ireland, Bobby Wood replaced Wondolowski to open the second half.
  • Greg Garza entered for Morales in the 65th minute to earn his fifth cap.
  • In the 76th minute, former Seattle Sounders FC Academy Player of the Year Jordan Morris made his MNT debut, replacing Timmy Chandler. Morris became the 50th player to earn a cap for Klinsmann this year. In the 77th minute, Rubio Rubin played in his second consecutive match, replacing Diskerud.
  • In the 87th minute, Tim Ream replaced Beckerman. Ream was brought in to replace John Brooks, who was kept out for precautionary reasons with a minor ankle issue.
  • Following the Colombia match, DeAndre Yedlin, Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones and DaMarcus Beasley returned to their respective Major League Soccer teams. Yedlin and Seattle Sounders FC are preparing to face the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Championship on Nov. 23, while the New England Revolution’s Jones and Nguyen are set to face the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Championship earlier that day.
  • The U.S. is 33-15-11 all-time under Klinsmann.
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