CHICAGO (Jan. 19, 2012) – The 2011 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards has concluded with winners in 11 categories, including Best Goal, Best Assist and Best Performances. The tenth annual installment of the Best of U.S. Soccer Awards was decided entirely by fan ballots cast from Dec. 23 to Jan. 13 on U.S. Soccer’s Facebook page.
After the U.S. Women’s National Team’s impressive run in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, it was no surprise that the WNT captured the majority of 2011’s Best of U.S. Soccer votes.
With the 2011 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards now concluded, U.S. Soccer will announce the winners for the 2011 Athlete of the Year Awards on Friday, Jan. 20. The four awards include Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female Athletes of the Year.
The U.S. Women claimed a resounding seven of the 11 awards, with four of them – Best Assist, Best Goal, Best Performance: Team and Best Performance: Player – revolving around the dramatic quarterfinal win against Brazil in which a last-gasp U.S. goal sent the game into overtime and a penalty shootout.
Megan Rapinoe earned Best Assist for her cross that found Abby Wambach’s head in the last seconds of overtime against Brazil. Wambach’s 122 nd-minute header was the latest goal in Women’s World Cup history and was recognized as Best Goal with 63 percent of the votes. Rapinoe’s assist garnered 80 percent of the votes in that category.
The USA’s incredible win against Brazil earned 82 percent of the votes – the largest margin of victory in any category – to win Best Performance: Team. After Rachel Buehler was sent off in the 65th minute, the U.S. rallied for more than 55 minutes with 10 players to come from behind and equalize in the final seconds of overtime stoppage time. The U.S. converted all five of its shots in the resulting penalty kick shootout, and Hope Solo saved a Brazil penalty for a U.S. win of 5-3.
Solo won Best Performance: Player for her crucial role against Brazil, a game in which she was also named Bud Light Woman of the Match. The goalkeeper saved a Cristiane penalty in the second half of regular time before Marta converted the retake to equalize, and Solo also saved Daiane’s penalty in the shootout. She garnered 39 percent of the votes. Solo also claimed the Best Off the Field Moment with her run on Dancing With the Stars. Along with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the U.S.’s No. 1 reached the semifinals on the ABC show.
Solo nearly had a hand in the Best Fan Tribute win, but U.S. MNT and Sporting Kansas City player C.J. Sapong’s rap serenade to the goalkeeper came in second place with 25 percent of the votes. Three Washington, D.C.-area high school students called the D.C. Squirrels won the category with their “Teach Me How to Wambach” video. Rounding out the top three is Gabby Helmus, who earned 17 percent of the votes for her Women’s World Cup song.
Best Goal Celebration was the most closely contested category, with only one percentage point separating first place from second and three points between second and third. U.S. Soccer fans voted the Women’s military tribute as the Best Goal Celebration. The Women lined up to salute the troops in Germany after Heather O’Reilly scored against Colombia in World Cup play. Second and third place in the category went to the U.S. Women’s celebration when they defeated Brazil in the penalty shootout and Megan Rapinoe’s rendition of “Born in the USA” after she scored her first World Cup goal against Colombia.
New York Red Bulls Academy alumnus Juan Agudelo was voted the Best Performance: Academy thanks to his 14 Men’s National Team appearances and his six goals in 28 games for the Red Bulls’ full team.
Fans went to Official U.S. Soccer bars in 2011 because they were the best spots to follow the U.S. National Teams, and several of them also hosted exclusive bar events featuring the Men’s and Women’s players. O’Brien’s Pub in San Diego, Calif., garnered 25 percent of the votes for the honor of Best Soccer Bar. Kells Irish Pub in Portland, Ore., which hosted Rapinoe and Lori Lindsey for a U.S. Soccer event in September, took home second place. Nevada Smiths in New York tied Kells on six percent of the votes to round out the top three.
Best Twitter featured Men’s and Women’s players as well as journalists and official U.S. Soccer accounts. Rapinoe (@mPinoe) took the top spot with a third of the votes, while teammate Ali Krieger (@alexbkrieger) came in a close second. The U.S. WNT’s official account (@ussoccer_wnt) came in third.
The Best Studio 90 Feature went to Wild Turkey, in which Lindsey and Rapinoe demonstrated their signature handshake. The two women also took second place with their Roomies 4 Life feature, taking a combined total of 83 percent of the votes.
As the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Athlete of the Year Awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women. As in years past, online votes for the annual award were tallied and counted for 50 percent of the total, while the remaining 50 percent was compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives, including national team coaches and members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors. U.S. Soccer will announce those winners on Jan. 20.
2011 BEST OF U.S. SOCCER AWARDS
Megan Rapinoe to Abby Wambach, July 10 vs. Brazil 80%
Alex Morgan to Abby Wambach, July 17 vs. Japan 7%
Clint Dempsey to Landon Donovan, June 25 vs. Mexico 4%
Best Fan Tribute
Teach Me How to Wambach 35%
C.J. Sapong’s Rap 25%
Women’s World Cup Song 17%
Abby Wambach, July 10 vs. Brazil 63%
Lauren Cheney, June 5 vs. Mexico 9%
Heather O’Reilly, July 2 vs. Colombia 9%
Best Goal Celebration
U.S. WNT, One for the Troops 29%
U.S. WNT, Comeback Complete 28%
Megan Rapinoe, Born in the USA 25%
Best Off the Field Moment
Hope Solo on DWTS 19%
Military Open Training in Germany 17%
Abby Wambach and Hope Solo on Letterman 15%
Best Performance: Academy
Juan Agudelo, U.S. MNT 39%
Kekuta Manneh, Lonestar SC 19%
Josh Gatt, Molde 16%
Best Performance: Player
Hope Solo, July 10 vs. Brazil 39%
Ali Krieger, July 10 vs. Brazil 27%
Abby Wambach, July 17 vs. Japan 18%
Best Performance: Team
WNT vs. Brazil, July 10 82%
WNT vs. Japan, July 17 9%
U-17 MNT vs. Brazil, Dec. 4 4%
Best Soccer Bar
O'Brien's Pub: San Diego, Calif. 25%
Kells Irish Pub: Portland, Ore. 6%
Nevada Smiths: New York, N.Y. 6%
Megan Rapinoe (@mpinoe) 33%
Ali Krieger (@alexbkrieger) 29%
U.S. WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) 15%
Best Studio 90 Feature
Wild Turkey 45%
Roomies 4 Life 38%
Lauren Cheney Defeats Host at HORSE 7%