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U.S. Soccer Wire: Donovan, Wambach Win Back-to-Back Athlete of the Year Honors

JOHNSON, O’REILLY EARN YOUNG ATHLETE OF THE YEAR HONORS:  For their excellence at the highest levels of the sport, U.S. Soccer named U.S. Men’s National Team forward Landon Donovan as the 2004 Chevy Male Athlete of the Year and U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach as the 2004 Chevy Female Athlete of the Year. The Chevy Athlete of the Year awards have a longer history than any major award in American soccer, and they join the FIFA Players of the Year as the only two awards to honor both the top male and the top female in the sport.  Both players become back-to-back winners of the top award for a U.S. Soccer player, having received the honor for the first time in their young careers in 2003. While Wambach joins women’s soccer legends Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm and Tiffeny Milbrett as back-to-back winners, Donovan becomes the first player in the history of the Male award to win it two years in a row and joins Kasey Keller and Marcelo Balboa as the only players to win the award twice.  With the award, Donovan and Wambach win either a Chevy TrailBlazer or a new Chevy Equinox.  U.S. Men’s National Team and FC Dallas forward Ed Johnson won the Young Male Athlete award, while U.S. Women’s National Team and North Carolina forward Heather O’Reilly was named the Young Female Athlete recipient.  For the youth awards, Chevy donated $1,000 in their names to the U.S. Soccer Foundation.  As in years past, online votes registered at were tallied and equivalent to 50 percent of the total votes, while the other 50 percent was represented by 100 votes that were compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives.
2004 Chevrolet Athlete of the Year Award Winners
Male: Landon Donovan
Female: Abby Wambach
Young Male: Ed Johnson
Young Female: Heather O’Reilly
2004 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL CHAMPIONS DESERVEDLY DOMINATE 2004 “BEST OF…”: With a historic year that included tears of joy from a dramatic overtime Olympic gold medal finish and tears of sadness from the retirement of a trio of legends, the U.S. Women’s National Team deservedly earned a whopping eight of the 11 “Best of…” U.S. Soccer awards, including Best U.S. Soccer Story, Best Goal, Best Assist and Best Fashion Statement.  The winners of the awards were determined via online voting at, where people had a chance to vote for one or all of the 11 categories once a day from Nov. 19-Dec. 17.
2004 Best of U.S. Soccer Award Winners
Best Soccer Bar: Ginger’s Ale House (Chicago, Ill.)
Best Soccer Store: Soccer USA (Austin, Texas)
Best U.S. Soccer Story: Hamm, Foudy and Fawcett Finish Legendary WNT Careers
Best Fashion Statement: U.S. Women's National Team's gold medals and Olympic wreaths
Best U.S. Crowd: 14,780 (sell out) – Sept. 25 @ Frontier Field (Rochester, N.Y.) – U.S. WNT 4, Iceland 3
Best Soccer Fans: The Sam's Army contingent in Foxboro, Mass., for the U.S. Men's first semifinal round home qualifier
Best Goal: Abby Wambach’s skillful flick and volley– U.S. WNT 3, Iceland 0 – Sept. 29
Best Assist: Mia Hamm to Heather O'Reilly – U.S. WNT 2, Germany 1 (OT) – Aug. 23 
Best Late-Game Heroics: Abby Wambach's “golden” game-winning header – U.S. WNT 2, Brazil 1 (2OT) – Aug. 26
Best Game Performance (Player): Mia Hamm’s tireless work all over the field – U.S. WNT 2, Germany 1 (OT) – Aug. 23
Best Game Performance (Team): U.S. WNT 2, Brazil 1 (2OT) – Aug. 26


U.S. MEN TO OPEN HOME QUALIFYING AT BIRMINGHAM’S LEGION FIELD ON MARCH 30: The U.S. Men’s National Team will open its home schedule of final round qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Kickoff against Guatemala is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The match in Birmingham is the first of five qualifiers in this round to be played in the United States, and will follow two road qualifying matches for the USA in Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9 and Mexico on March 26 or 27. Ticket information for the game will be announced in January. Guatemala is one of the surprises in the final round, finishing tied on points with Costa Rica at the top of Group 2. Guatemala started out strong in group play, taking seven out of nine points from their first three matches.  Behind the goal-scoring prowess of Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz, Guatemala held on from there to enter the final round of qualifying for the first time in history. Ruiz, the two-time MLS scoring leader, has amassed 50 goals in only three seasons and has proven to be virtually unstoppable at the international level by averaging a goal a game in semifinal round play.  The U.S. will be returning to Birmingham’s Legion Field for the first time since March 10, 2002, when the U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 in a World Cup preparation match before 24,133 fans. The team’s only other visit came nearly two years earlier, when the U.S. MNT drew 1-1 with Tunisia in front of 21,637 fans in the team’s first-ever match in Alabama.

U.S. OPENS WORLD CUP QUALIFYING ON FEB. 9 AWAY TO TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: The United States will open its bid to qualify for its fifth consecutive World Cup finals in Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9 as the final round draw for 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying was announced on Nov. 30. The U.S., along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago will compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 9-Oct. 12, 2005, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.  The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 12/13 and Nov. 16 against the fifth-place finisher in Asian qualifying.  Drawn as Team 6 in the final round format, the U.S. faces a tricky road to Germany as their first two games will take place on the road.  The U.S. gets its consecutive home dates for Matches 3 & 4 and 6 & 7, and will then face two away matches before concluding final round play in the United States.  Venues for the five home matches for the U.S. will be announced as they become finalized.
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule – CONCACAF Final Round
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Feb. 9        Panama vs. Guatemala 
Feb. 9        Costa Rica vs. Mexico 
Feb. 9        Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA  

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)

March 26/27 Costa Rica vs. Panama
March 26/27 Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago
March 26/27 Mexico vs. USA 

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)

March 30     Panama vs. Mexico   
March 30    USA vs. Guatemala   
March 30     Trinidad & Tobago vs. Costa Rica

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 4/5      Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama   
June 4/5      Guatemala vs. Mexico   
June 4/5      USA vs. Costa Rica   

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)

June 8        Panama vs. USA   
June 8         Costa Rica vs. Guatemala   
June 8         Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)

Aug. 17       Guatemala vs. Panama   
Aug. 17       Mexico vs. Costa Rica   
Aug. 17       USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 3/4     Panama vs. Costa Rica  
Sept. 3/4     Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala
Sept. 3/4     USA vs. Mexico  

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)

Sept. 7       Mexico vs. Panama 
Sept. 7        Guatemala vs. USA  
Sept. 7         Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)

Oct. 8/9       Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Oct. 8/9       Mexico vs. Guatemala 
Oct. 8/9       Costa Rica vs. USA 

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 12        USA vs. Panama   
Oct. 12        Guatemala vs. Costa Rica
Oct. 12        Trinidad & Tobago vs. Mexico
Playoff (*home team will be determined by lottery at the conclusion of the final round)
Date                Match-up
*Nov. 12/13    AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4 
*Nov. 16          AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4


U-20 MNT FINISHES FINAL CAMP OF 2004, GETS SET FOR CONCACAF QUALIFYING: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team won all four of their games during their final training camp of 2004 at The Home Depot Center, which ended last week. The 30 players in camp will be reduced to 22 as the team returns to the HDC on Jan. 2 for the final preparations for the Under-20 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament, which will be played from Jan. 12-16, also at the HDC. Out of the 22, Schmid will pick his final 18-man roster a few days before the tournament, which will see the U.S. take on Trinidad & Tobago, Panama and Costa Rica. During the final camp of 2004, head coach Sigi Schmid split the 30 players in camp into two teams (Grey and Blue) and came away with wins over the Canadian Under-20 Men’s National Team, Mexican first division club team Necaxa and the California All-Stars, a team made up of local college and professional players. On Dec. 18, the Grey team used an early goal by Chad Barrett to cruise to a 1-0 victory over Canada in the morning, while the Blue team got goals from Sacha Kljestan and Jacob Peterson to topple a tough Necaxa team. On Dec. 20, Jacob Peterson had the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Canada off a free kick from Hunter Freeman for the Grey team in the morning match. In the afternoon, Charlie Davies and Randi Patterson led the way for the Blue team, combining for three goals and two assists to cruise to a 4-1 victory over the California All-Stars.
U-20 MNT Results / Schedule
Date          Opponent           Result    U.S. Goal Scorers
Dec. 18     Canada             1-0 W     Barrett
Dec. 18     Necaxa              2-1 W     Kljestan, Peterson
Dec. 20     Canada             1-0 W     Peterson
Dec. 20     Calif. All-Stars   4-1 W    Capano, Davies (2), Patterson

TICKETS ON SALE NOW FOR U-20 CONCACAF QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT AT HDC: Tickets for the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament for the 2005 FIFA World Youth (Under-20) Championship taking place at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., from January 12-16, 2005 are on sale now. The four-team, Group A qualifying tournament will feature the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, along with Costa Rica, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.  Tickets ranging in price levels from $10 to $24 will be available online at, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Southern California (including Robinson’s-May, Wherehouse Music and Tower Records), by calling 213-480-3232 (Los Angeles), 714-740-2000 (Orange County) or 619-220-8497 (San Diego), and at The Home Depot Center ticket office. Groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290. The competition will consist of three doubleheaders, with each team playing on January 12, 14, and 16. The U.S. U-20s, who are attempting to qualify for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship, play the second match on each day and open against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday, Jan. 12 before facing Panama on Friday, Jan. 14. The U-20s wrap up the tournament against Costa Rica on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2:30 p.m. PT. The top two finishers in Carson will advance to the FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands from June 10-July 2, 2005. While a roster for the qualifying tournament will not be announced until late December, head coach Sigi Schmid has a deep pool (players born since January 1, 1985) to chose from that includes a blend of MLS players, European professionals and the top college players in the nation.
U-20 CONCACAF Final Round Schedule
Date          Match-up                              Kickoff (PT)
Jan. 12      Costa Rica vs. Panama    5:30 p.m.
Jan. 12      USA vs. T&T                       8 p.m.
Jan. 14      T&T vs. Costa Rica            5:30 p.m.
Jan. 14      USA vs. Panama                8 p.m.
Jan. 16      Panama vs. T&T               12 p.m.
Jan. 16      USA vs. Costa Rica           2:30 p.m.

U-17 MNT KICKS OFF DISNEY SOCCER SHOWCASE IN ORLANDO: The U.S. Under-17 ’89 Men’s National Team kicked off the Super Group of the Disney Soccer Showcase on Sunday (Dec. 26) against Benfica, drawing 0-0 with the Portugal youth club team. A day later, the U.S. came away with their first win of the tournament as Cesar Romero finished off a pass from Greg Eckhardt in the 9th minute and Joe Bendik made three saves to hold off Region II (U-17). The U.S. will play three more games at Disney, facing Region IV today, Canada’s Under-17 Men’s National Team on Dec. 29, and then finishing against Region III on Dec. 30. Head coach John Hackworth brought 20 players to the Disney Showcase, including a handful of players he is looking at possibly inviting into U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program for the spring semester.
U-17 MNT Schedule/Results
Date          Opponent         Result    U.S. Goal Scorers
Dec. 26     Benfica U-17    0-0 T    --
Dec. 27     Region II          1-0 W    Romero
Dec. 28     Region IV
Dec. 29     Canada U-17
Dec. 30     Region III
U-17 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brian Perk (Santa Margarita, Calif.), Joe Bendik (Atlanta, Ga.); DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Kluz (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Anthony Wallace (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Jonathan Collier (Fayetteville, Ga.), Greg Eckhardt (Orange Park, Fla.), Bryan Arguez (Miami, Fla.), Victor Cortez (San Pablo, Calif.); MIDFIELDERS (5): Kyle Davies (Pleasanton, Calif.), Cameron Brown (Garland, Texas), Justin True (Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Lucas Swertloff (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Gerson Mayen (Los Angeles, Calif.); FORWARDS (7): Michael Stephens (Woodridge, Ill.), Josmer Altidore (Boca Raton, Fla.), Cesar Nunez (Gurnee, Ill.), Perica Marosevic (Rockford, Ill.), Andrew Giallombardo (Manalapan, N.J.), Joseph Sorrentino (Trenton, N.J.), Cesar Romero (San Diego, Calif.).


2005 MLS SEASON TO OPEN WITH CHIVAS USA HOSTING ’04 CHAMPS D.C. ON APRIL 2: Major League Soccer unveiled the six matches set for opening weekend of the 2005 regular season on Saturday, April 2, 2005. Opening weekend of the League’s 10th season is highlighted with the first game in the history of Club Deportivo Chivas USA, as they host MLS Cup Champion D.C.United in a match to be broadcast live on ABC Sports at 3 p.m. ET. Real Salt Lake, the other expansion club to join the League in 2005, will play its first game at Giants Stadium against the MetroStars as former U.S. U-17 MNT head coach John Ellinger will coach his first MLS game against Bob Bradley, the all-time winningest coach in MLS history. The other matchups scheduled for opening weekend include: the Los Angeles Galaxy taking on the Columbus Crew, who finished 2004 with the best regular season record; MLS Western Conference Champions Kansas City Wizards hosting the new-look Colorado Rapids; the first game of the Brimstone Cup rivalry between FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire; and the New England Revolution against the San Jose Earthquakes.
MLS Opening Day Schedule
Date        Match-up                                                Kickoff (ET)
April 2     CD Chivas USA vs. D.C. United         3 p.m. (ABC Sports)
April 2     MetroStars vs. Real Salt Lake             7 p.m.
April 2     Columbus Crew vs. L.A. Galaxy          7:30 p.m.
April 2     K.C. Wizards vs. Colorado Rapids     8 p.m.
April 2     Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas                 8:30 p.m.
April 2     N.E. Revolution vs. S.J. Earthquakes 10 p.m.

TICKETS ON SALE NOW FOR KOREA REPUBLIC-SWEDEN FRIENDLY AT HDC ON JAN. 22: U.S. Soccer announced that 2002 FIFA World Cup semifinalist Korea Republic will take on 15th-ranked Sweden in an international friendly on Saturday, January 22, 2005 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT.  The second-ever meeting between Korea Republic and Sweden has been scheduled as both sides continue their paths through FIFA World Cup qualifying in their respective regions. Tickets ranging in price levels from $18 to $45 are on sale now through Tickets are also on sale by phone (213-480-3232 in L.A.; 714-740-2000 in Orange County; 619-220-8497 in San Diego), and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Southern California (including Robinson’s-May, Wherehouse Music and Tower Records), and at The Home Depot Center ticket office. Groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290.

SPECTOR AND KARBASSIYOON TO GET MORE PLAYING TIME AS PUT ON LOAN: Jonathan Spector and Danny Karbassiyoon are both expected to see more playing time overseas after the two U.S. Soccer Youth National Team players were put on loan by their English Premier League clubs this past week. Spector, who also has a cap with the full Men's National Team, was loaned by Manchester United to Blackburn Rovers for the rest of the year. Meanwhile Arsenal loaned out Karbassiyoon to Ipswich Town, which is at the top of the table in the English first division, for a month. Early this season, the 18-year-old Spector made an impact at Manchester United, playing in five first-team games at left back, but with the return of teammates from suspension and injury he was back playing mainly with the reserves. Karbassiyoon, 20, has played a handful of Carling Cup matches for Arsenal this season along with a regular schedule of reserve matches for the Gunners, but will now look to fill in for injured left back Drissa Diallo.

NEW JERSEY WILDCATS TO HOST 2005 W-LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP: United Soccer Leagues announced that the New Jersey Wildcats, who are heading into their 10th season in the W-League, have been selected to host the 2005 W-League Championship. The event will follow a final four format and will take place the weekend of Aug. 5-7 at the Wildcats’ home stadium at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, N.J. The 2005 W-League will feature 34 teams spread out across the United States and Canada. The Championship weekend will feature semifinal matches on Friday, Aug. 5, with consolation and championship matches on Sunday, Aug. 7. The Wildcats earn an automatic berth into the semifinals, with the other three spots filled by playoff winners from the Eastern, Central and Western Conferences

NOMINATIONS STILL BEING ACCEPTED FOR 2004 FRICKER BUILDER AWARD: Nominations are still being accepted for the 2005 U.S. Soccer Werner Fricker Builder Award, honoring the late U.S. Soccer President Werner J. Fricker. The annual award is presented to an individual or individuals that have worked tirelessly in furthering the interest of the sport of soccer, without regard to personal recognition or advancement. The honoree(s) will have created or fostered programs that will outlast his or her own active involvement in the sport and that establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States. Fricker himself was honored posthumously with the inaugural award in 2002.  U.S. Soccer Vice President Sunil Gulati received the award in 2003. With U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting moving from the summer months to March, no award was bestowed in 2004. Interested persons can nominate individuals for the annual Werner Fricker Builder Award at, with applications needing to be postmarked by January 1, 2005.


PEAK PERFORMERS: Landon Donovan added another major soccer award to his collection by becoming the first male back-to-back winner of U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Male Athlete of the Year Award. The 22-year-old, who served as National Team captain in the absence of Claudio Reyna, won the award for the first time in 2003 and, in 2004, joins Marcelo Balboa and Kasey Keller as the only players to win the award twice. U.S. Women’s National Team Forward Abby Wambach also won the U.S. Soccer Chevy Female Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row, and young athlete of the year honors went to U.S. National Team and University of North Carolina forward Heather O’Reilly and U.S. National Team and FC Dallas forward Ed Johnson.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: While still three months away, the U.S. Men’s National Team is preparing to kick off its home schedule of the final round of 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying against Guatemala on Wednesday, March 30, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. The match in Birmingham is the first of five qualifiers in this round to be played in the United States.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Former Brazil striker, Romario da Souza Faria, announced his retirement from soccer at the age of 38, according to Brazilian newspaper O Globo. The former Barcelona, Valencia and PSV Eindhoven forward made the announcement during an interview in Florianopolis, Brazil, where he is on vacation.

QUOTABLE: "I know that Brazilians think Pelé is the best but I'm Argentine and I think it's Diego Maradona."
        --Carlos Tevez told Globo television in Brazil shortly after his arrival to play with Brazilian club Corinthians.