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U.S. Soccer Introduces First Annual "Best of..." Series; Fans Can Vote for 2002 Finalists of Ten Inaugural Awards at Starting Friday

CHICAGO (Monday, December 2, 2002) - For the first time in its history, the U.S. Soccer Federation has created a series of 10 awards that will honor the standout performances of the calendar year in American soccer and make up the first annual U.S. Soccer “Best of…” Series.

With the help of U.S. National Team coaches Bruce Arena and April Heinrichs, U.S. Soccer has selected the finalists for each of these first-time awards. Now it’s up to fans to make their voice heard with a vote in one or all of these unique, inaugural awards over the next month at Official online voting for the awards will begin on Friday (Dec. 6) and continue through Dec. 31.

Following on the heels of its first ever “Best of…” awards series, U.S. Soccer will announce the seven suggested candidates for each of the four annual Chevy Athlete of the Year awards -- Young Female, Young Male, Female and Male -- next week. As the oldest and most prestigious award of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Athlete of the Year awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, with the winners of the two major awards receiving vehicles from Chevrolet.  For the third straight year, fan votes (along with a media vote) will decide the winner. Online voting will begin at on Friday, Dec. 13 and run through Jan. 8.

The announcement of finalists for each of the 2002 "Best of U.S. Soccer" awards will be staggered across this week according to the following schedule, with the 10 finalists for both Best Soccer Bar and Best Soccer Store listed below.

BEST SOCCER BAR: This award is for the top soccer-friendly bar in the USA. You know the place: it’s where you watch the U.S. play an away World Cup qualifier and the place that opens on Saturday at 6 a.m. so you can watch the day’s English Premier League offerings. Here are the 10 finalists (listed in alphabetical order):
1) Abbey Pub (Chicago, Ill.)
2) Britannia Arms Pub (two locations in San Jose, Calif.)
3) Cock-n-Bull (Santa Monica, Calif.)
4) Fox and Hound British-American Pub (Oakland Park, Fla.)
5) George & Dragon Pub (Seattle, Wash.)
6) McCormack’s Pub (New York City)
7) McGann’s Pub (Boston, Mass.)
8) Nevada Smith’s (New York City)
9) O’Dowd’s Little Dublin (Kansas City, Mo.)
10) Summers Restaurant (Arlington, Va.)

BEST SOCCER STORE: This award honors the best all-around store to buy all things soccer, from gear for your Saturday league to the red-hot U.S. World Cup Team jersey. Here are finalists from around the nation to choose from (listed in alphabetical order):
1) Chicago Soccer (Chicago, Ill.)
2) Ewing Sports (Trenton, N.J.)
3) Gotshalk’s (Boston, Mass.)
4) Soccer Locker (Miami, Fla.)
5) Soccer Master (St. Louis, Mo.)
6) Soccer Post (two locations in San Diego, Calif., area)
7) Soccer Pro (two locations in San Francisco, Calif., area)
8) Soccer Unlimited (Indianapolis, Ind.)
9) Soccer West (Seattle, Wash.)
10) Total Soccer (two locations in Dallas, Texas area)

Remaining 2002 Best of U.S. Soccer Award Schedule
Dec. 3:  Best Soccer Stadium
             Best Soccer Fans
Dec. 4:  Best U.S. Crowd
             Best Place to Watch the World Cup from the U.S.
Dec. 5:  Best In-Game Promotion
             Best U.S. Goal
Dec. 6:  Best U.S. Game Performance (Player)
             Best U.S. Game Performance (Team)