2007 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Candidate Bios
U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Candidates
Lori Chalupny - Midfielder
The skillful Chalupny was one of the USA’s brightest young stars at the 2007 Women’s World Cup, the first of her career. She scored two goals in China, including the game-winner against Nigeria in the final match of group play. She earned the penalty kick against that gave the USA a 1-0 lead and had a goal and an assist against Norway in the third-place match. Her two-way play in midfield was dynamic during the Women’s World Cup, and she was one of two U.S. players to play every minute of all six games. She was one of two players to play in all 24 matches this year and scored the winning goal in the championship game against China at the Four Nations Tournament. She was second on the team in minutes played during 2007.
Kristine Lilly - Forward
The U.S. captain was second on the team with 12 goals and impacted the team in every match with her work ethic and creativity. She led the team with eight assists eight, including three at the Women’s World Cup. Her perfect pass from the left wing to Abby Wambach set up the USA’s second goal against Sweden in China and she scored the third goal in the WWC quarterfinal win over England. She scored the winning goal in the championship game of the Algarve Cup against Denmark, and also scored the winner against Brazil in June. She played all but eight minutes of the WWC and during the year started 20 of 21 matches she played, upping her world record in caps to 340. She is also on the short list for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.
Heather O’Reilly – Forward
O’Reilly had her best year ever for the full Women’s National Team, more than doubling her previous best single-year goal output while scoring seven times, including two at the Women’s World Cup. O’Reilly got her first goal of the year in a 1-1 tie with England at the Four Nations Tournament, stepping up in a leadership role. Her goal that tied the Women’s World Cup match against North Korea at 2-2 was one of the most crucial goals for the USA in the tournament, and she also scored against Norway during the USA’s 4-1 win in the third-place match. Still just 22 years old, the speedy winger started 17 of the 21 games she played in, playing more than 1,300 minutes, by far the most in a calendar year during her WNT career.
Abby Wambach – Forward
It was another spectacular scoring year for the 5-foot-11 striker as she pounded in 20 goals (in 21 games) to become just the second U.S. women’s player to score 20 or more goals in a calendar year. More impressively, she scored six of the USA’s 12 goals at the Women’s World Cup, and won the Silver Shoe as the second leading scorer in the tournament. Despite suffering a painful toe injury just before the WWC and receiving a deep gash on her head against North Korea, Wambach played all but five minutes of the tournament. She had seven multiple goal games during 2007 and also dished out five assists to take possession of fifth place on the all-time U.S. scoring list. She is also on the short list for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.
Cat Whitehill – Defender
The central defender was a fixture in the back for the U.S. team, leading the team in minutes played while seeing action in all 24 matches, starting 23. Her leadership, toughness and savvy on the ball contributed greatly to a U.S. team which allowed less than a goal a game during the year. She was the only U.S. player to play more than 2,000 minutes, meaning she rarely left a match. She was one of two players to play every minute of all six games at the Women’s World Cup and picked up three assists during the tournament. She had seven total assists, the most ever in calendar year for a defender in U.S. Women’s National Team history. Her long free kicks were one of the team’s most dangerous weapons on set plays.
U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Candidates
Carlos Bocanegra - Defender
The ever-present center back has quietly emerged as one of the cornerstones of the U.S. team that will seek to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Bocanegra has borne the captain’s armband while anchoring the U.S. defense in 10 matches. He retains his knack for scoring, getting the game-winner against Panama in the Gold Cup and the USA’s first goal in the 4-2 thriller against No. 1 ranked Brazil. His effort in helping shut down the Swiss attack in the USA’s 1-0 win on Oct. 17 in Basel epitomized his performance in 2007 and earned him Sierra Mist Man of the Match honors. A regular in Fulham’s back four, Bocanegra has been deputized as team captain.
DaMarcus Beasley - Midfielder
Beasley showed in 2007 the qualities that make him a consistent scoring threat, producing his second-highest point output with the full team. He recorded three goals and three assists, including his third multi-goal game when potted a pair against El Salvador in the Gold Cup. Twice named Sierra Mist Man of the Match – against El Salvador and China on June 2 in San Jose – the 25-year old midfielder got it done on both sides of the ball. Moving to Rangers during the summer break, Beasley has already made his mark on the Glasgow outfit by scoring four goals, including a stunner in the 3-0 away win against Lyon in the UEFA Champions League.
Clint Dempsey - Forward
Dempsey has added considerable substance to his already dazzling skills, confidently assuming a role as a striker for the U.S. He tallied three goals for the year, including the game-winner in the 1-0 win against Guatemala that kicked off the USA’s Gold Cup winning run. He continued to demonstrate his ability to score against big-time opponents, deftly curling home the USA’s second goal in the 4-2 loss against No.1 ranked Brazil in Chicago. Dempsey became a Fulham legend with his first goal for the EPL club, scoring the winning goal vs. Liverpool on May 5 that kept Fulham in the top flight. He’s continued where he left off, scoring four goals in 10 league matches.
Landon Donovan - Midfielder
The maestro continued to dominate the scoresheet, posting nine goals and four assists to once again lead all U.S. scorers while setting yet another record, this for the most points in a year (22). Donovan recorded his second career hat trick in the 3-1 win against Ecuador on March 25 in Tampa, the first of five MOTM awards this year. He scored four goals in helping lead the U.S. past Mexico to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup crown, his 34 career goals is now tied for No. 1 on the USA’s all-time goalscoring list. He picked up his third Gold Cup gold medal in the process and is just four caps shy of the century mark at age 25. For the Los Angeles Galaxy, Donovan led the team with eight goals and 13 assists as one of three players in MLS to rank in the top 10 in each category.
Tim Howard - Goalkeeper
The future is now for Howard as he demonstrated this year why he has long been considered the USA’s next goalkeeper of choice. Earning the most starts of his international career (10), he collected three clean sheets to increase his career total to 10 shutouts in 25 international appearances. His heart-stopping save on Adolfo Bautista in the 89th minute of the Gold Cup final preserved the USA’s championship aspirations, and he turned in a Sierra Mist Man of the Match performance against Sweden. He also has become a mainstay in the nets for Everton, backstopping the Merseyside club to a place in this year’s UEFA Cup.
U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Candidates
Rachel Buehler - Defender
Known as one of the toughest tacklers and headers in the women’s game, Buehler captained the U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team in 2007. The tenacious defender trained with the full Women’s National Team during Residency Training camp. She started all nine matches she played for the U-21s, including six internationals, and anchored the defense during the 2007 Nordic Cup in Finland that allowed zero goals on the way to reclaiming the title with a 4-0 win over Germany. The Stanford senior has started every game for the Cardinals this year as the squad has enjoyed one of its best seasons in recent history. While she doesn’t get near the goal often, Buehler has scored once for Stanford this year.
Lauren Cheney – Forward
The powerful striker trained with the full U.S. Women’s National Team during Residency Training Camp and earned her first two senior team caps this year. She made her first-ever start against Germany at the Four Nations Tournament in China and scored her first-ever senior team goal against Mexico on April 14. Cheney played in seven games with the U.S. U-20s during the year, including five at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As one of the team’s two “overage” players, she was the team’s best attacker, scoring six goals including both in a 2-1 semifinal upset of Canada’s full Women’s National Team. She also scored a hat trick against. Cheney has had a fantastic sophomore season at UCLA and is one of the country’s leading scorers, finding the net 20 times in 19 games as of Nov. 11.
Tina DiMartino – Midfielder
The crafty midfielder started all 12 games she played with the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team this year, including all three games at the Nordic Cup, where she scored in the championship game win against Germany. Her one-on-one play was one of the keys to the USA’s success at the Nordic Cup. She scored four goals for the U-21s in 2007, which was tied for second on the team this year, and she was the squad’s top scoring midfielder. She continued her success this fall with UCLA, where she has started all 19 games and scored five goals while delighting the crowds with her skillful play and darting dribbles.
Tobin Heath - Midfielder
The versatile midfielder was one of the mainstays of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team. One of the few holdovers from the U.S. team that played in the 2006 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Russia, Heath started all 10 games she played for the U-20s, scoring two goals, including one against Panama at the Pan Am Games. An aesthetic dribbler with a knack for weaving through tight spaces, she played in all six games at the Pan Ams, starting five, and also picked up two assists. Just a sophomore at UNC, she is one of the key players for the Tar Heels, having started 20 of 21 games. She trained with the full Women’s National Team during the first training camp of the year in January.
Kelley O’Hara – Forward
O’Hara started seven of the eight games she played with the U-20s in 2007, scoring six goals including four at the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro. A hard runner with a knack for finding the net, she scored twice against Paraguay and also had goals against Panama and Mexico at the Pan Ams. She also played three games for the U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team at the Futbol Internacional Tournament in Alabama, scoring against China. One of the key players for Stanford University as a sophomore, O’Hara is the team’s leading scorer with eight goals and five assists as of Nov. 12. While she battled some injuries in the early part of the year, she did train briefly with the full team during the Residency Training Camp.
U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year Candidates
Mykell Bates - Defender
While serving as team captain, Bates had a breakout tournament at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in South Korea this summer. The strong, fast central defender not only anchored the U.S. backline, but was a force in the attack on free kicks as the converted striker scored a team-high three goals in four games. With his strong presence in the opponent’s penalty area, Bates headed home against Tajikistan and Belgium and then tallied late against Germany to keep the U.S. alive in their Round of 16 match. Bates will continue his career and his education at Santa Clara University upon his high school graduation in December.
Michael Bradley - Midfielder
The hard-nosed midfielder split his time this summer between the Gold Cup Champion Men’s National Team and the Under-20 team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. In Canada, Bradley, who is well-known for his tough tackles and smart decisions, started all five games and scored the game-winner in overtime in the Round of 16 match against Uruguay. The 20-year old has already earned 11 caps with the senior side, and scored his first goal in the team’s 1-0 win over Switzerland on Oct. 17. A consistent starter at defensive midfield for the national team, Bradley has also started virtually every game for the Heerenveen’s first team and having a scoring streak of four goals in five games early this season.
Chris Seitz - Goalkeeper
The fourth overall pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, Seitz made a name for himself on the international scene in the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a performance that was on par with the best ‘keepers in the world for his age group. The 6’4, 205 pound goalkeeper was named Man of the Match for his work against South Korea, and despite suffering an injury against Brazil, came up with a handful of huge saves in the second half to assist in the USA’s 2-1 upset. After missing the team’s Round of 16 match due to injury, Seitz gallantly returned and put in another remarkable performance in their quarterfinal loss to Austria. His feats in Canada has earned him call-ups to two camps with the senior side against Brazil and Switzerland.
Danny Szetela - Midfielder
The hard-nosed midfielder put forth a breakout performance at the Under-20 World Cup and was a key element in helping the USA reach the quarterfinals. Not known as a goalscorer, Szetela notched three goals in five games in Canada, including a diving header that earned the U.S. a crucial point in their opening match against South Korea. In the next game against Poland, Szetela found the back of the net twice in the Americans’ dominating 6-1 victory. His presence with the U-20s led to his first cap with the senior team against Switzerland, where after entering the game in the 84th minute, he set up Michael Bradley for the game-winning goal. The U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program product signed with Racing Santander of the Spanish La Liga in August.
Sal Zizzo - Midfielder/Forward
A former standout at UCLA, Zizzo opened the eyes of clubs around the world with his performance during the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer, eventually parlaying his success into a contract with Hannover 96 in Germany. The speedy winger started all five games in Canada, playing unselfishly on both ends of the field and his efforts were rewarded with assists on two of Freddy Adu’s goals in the team’s most dominating performance against Poland. As a key part of the team’s quarterfinal run, Zizzo caught the eye of the Men’s National Team coaches and was called into his first camp leading up to the Aug. 22 match against Sweden. He earned his first cap, coming on as a second-half substitute in the 0-1 loss.