CHICAGO (Dec. 16, 2008) – The next four winners of the 2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards were announced on Tuesday on ussoccer.com, with Studio 90 presenting the fan’s choices for Best Assist, Best all_access Video, Best Performance: Player and Best Goal: Academy.
The seventh annual installment of the popular “Best Of” series is presented by Soccer America, the No. 1 soccer magazine in the United States, and fans had a chance to cast their ballot for all 12 categories from Nov. 18 to Dec. 8 on ussoccer.com.
Fans can watch a special presentation of these four winners, plus the first four winners for Best Soccer Specialty Store, Best Soccer Bar, Best Soccer Blog and Best Fan Photo, on ussoccer.com’s Studio 90, which will showcase all 12 category winners. The final four winners for Best Action Photo, Best Goal: Men, Best Goal: Women and Best Performance: Team will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 17.
Following the unveiling of the 2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards, U.S. Soccer will announce the winners for the 2008 Athlete of the Year Awards on Thursday, Dec. 18, which include Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female Athletes of the Year. 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 to 50 percent of the total, while the other 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.
In the closest race of the 2008 “Best Of” Awards, Lindsay Tarpley just edged out teammate Abby Wambach to take the title for Best Assist. Tarpley had a career year for goals this year, but it is her intuitive one-time pass to set up Lori Chalupny against Ireland that took 25 percent of the vote and put her among the winners for this year's “Best Of” awards. Wambach's flicked header to set up Angela Hucles against Australia on May 3was a close second with 24 percent of the vote. Last year's Best Assist winner Freddy Adu took third place with 18 percent of the vote for his well weighted throughball to set up Sacha Kljestan's goal against the Netherlands.
Tobin Heath's juggling prowess is well known and she took to the streets again for the 2008 Best all_access Video winner. “Tobin Heath's Walkabout” showcases the Olympic gold medalist juggling a ball around different San Diego locales as the WNT prepared for a friendly against Brazil. The unique piece easily won the award with 47 percent of the vote, beating out “Gold Medal Winners” (14 percent) and “It Starts Here” (12 percent).
The award for Best Performance: Player went to Tim Howard, for his stellar goalkeeping display against Argentina at Giants Stadium in June. Howard, a New Jersey native, contrived to keep Argentina scoreless over the 90 minutes, making multiple world class saves in front of a raucous crowd of over 70,000 people. Howard's clean sheet against the South Americans earned 31 percent of the vote, edging out fellow goalkeeper Hope Solo's shutout against Brazil in the Olympic final (27 percent). In third place was Michelle Enyeart's hat-trick performance against Trinidad & Tobago during U-20 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying (11 percent). The emphatic attacking display was a sign of things to come, as Enyeart was part of the squad that went on to win the championship of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy makes its first appearance in the 2008 “Best Of” Awards, with Andrew Bulls of the Baltimore Bays grabbing the prize for Best Goal: Academy. Bulls' rocket against LAFC Chelsea during Development Academy Finals Week proved to be the championship-winning goal for the Bays and fans rewarded the sensational strike by voting for it 31 percent of the time. In second place was Kevin Mejia's header for LAFC against the Bays, taking 26 percent of the vote, and in third place was Zach Kupfer's well-worked finish for Albertson SC with 22 percent
On Wednesday, Dec. 17, the final four awards will be presented for Best Action Photo, Best Goal: Men, Best Goal: Women and Best Performance: Team. The 2008 Athlete of the Year awards will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 18.
2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Results – Best Assist, Best all_access Video, Best Performance: Player, Best Goal: Academy
1. Lindsay Tarpley vs. Ireland (Sept. 20) 25 %
2. Abby Wambach vs. Australia (May 3) 24 %
3. Freddy Adu vs. Netherlands (Aug. 10) 18 %
Best all_access Video
1. Tobin Heath Walkabout 47 %
2. Gold Medal Winners 14 %
3. It Starts here 12 %
Best Performance: Player
1. Tim Howard vs. Argentina (June 8) 31 %
2. Hope Solo vs. Brazil (Aug. 21) 27 %
3. Michelle Enyeart vs. Trinidad & Tobago (June 18) 11 %
Best Goal: Academy
1. Andrew Bulls, BAL vs. LAFC 31 %
2. Kevin Mejia, LAFC vs. BAL 26 %
3. Zach Kupfer, ALB vs. CASL 22 %