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2006 "Best of U.S. Soccer" Award Winners Unveiled

CHICAGO (December 21, 2006) – U.S. Soccer has unveiled the 2006 winners of the increasingly popular “Best of U.S. Soccer” Awards after nearly three weeks of online fan voting at Fans had a chance to vote from Nov. 30 to Dec. 20 for all 11 categories once a day. The fifth annual installment of the awards were presented this year by Soccer America, the No. 1 soccer magazine in the United States.

Following on the heels of the 2006 “Best of” Awards series, U.S. Soccer will announce on Tuesday, Dec. 26, the winners of the 2006 Athlete of the Year Awards, which include Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female. 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 equivalent to 50 percent of the total votes, while the other 50 percent was compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives (from national team coaches to the National Board of Directors).

The U.S. Men’s historic 1-1 draw with Italy on June 17 in the 2006 FIFA World Cup at Fritz-Walter-Stadion in Kaiserslautern, Germany, was a part of five awards, including Best Performance (Team), Best Performance (Player), Best U.S. Atmosphere, Best Action Photo and Best U.S. Fan Photo from the World Cup.

The fans that traveled to Germany for the U.S. Men’s match against Italy at Fritz-Walter-Stadion in Kaiserslautern won Best U.S. Atmosphere, beating out their fellow comrades who were there just three months earlier to watch the U.S. defeat Poland. This was the first year that the winning match took place outside of the United States.

The fans that made up the Best U.S. Atmosphere for the U.S.-Italy match were witness to the Best Performance (Team) and Best Performance (Player). With almost 50 percent of the vote, the USA’s World Cup draw easily took home the Best Performance (Team) award, finishing more than 1,000 votes ahead of the second place finisher. This marks the second time the award has gone to a U.S. MNT match in a World Cup, as the U.S.-Portugal game was awarded the title in the initial 2002 awards.

In a much closer race, Kasey Keller took home the award for Best Performance (Player) for his impressive goalkeeping that kept Italy to just one goal – despite being down to just eight field players for most of the second half – and allowed the U.S. to earn a valuable point. This is Keller’s first Best Performance (Player) award, moving up from his third-place finish last year (See the full results from 2005).

The winner of the Best Action Photo, “McBride Crunch,” captured one of the most memorable moments of the U.S.-Italy match. The image caught Daniele de Rossi elbowing Brian McBride in the face, which got the Italian midfielder sent off (photo).

The Best U.S. Fan Photo from the World Cup was also taken during the Italy match, but this one came from the stands. Voters overwhelmingly picked Nick Uchida’s photo from his seat at Fritz-Walter-Stadion, which included a large American flag waving in front of his view of the field (photo). More than twice as many voters selected Uchida’s picture than the runner-up.

The World Cup was the also the stage for this year’s Best Goal, presented by Sierra Mist, with Clint Dempsey easily walking away with the award for his scintillating one-timer against Ghana on June 22 in the USA’s final group game. Dempsey breaks the three-year streak of WNT winners after McBride won the inaugural award for his 2002 World Cup header against Portugal. U-17 MNT forward Sheanon Williams came in second for his jaw-dropping bicycle kick against Turkey (watch).

The “Hospital Visit in Kaiserslautern,” which provided an inside look as players and staff visited Landstuhl Regional Medical Hospital in Germany, the major definitive care facility for the U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, was voted Best all_access video (watch). “U-20 WNT Ball Tricks Battle” came in second, exactly 200 votes behind (watch).

Nike’s red “Don’t Tread on Me” jerseys, which the U.S. Men’s National Team wore in their final Send-Off Match against Latvia before heading to Germany for the World Cup, outlasted the MNT players’ World Cup suits and sunglasses to win Best Look/Style (photo).

Ginger’s Ale House had some tight competition from the Brewhouse Café in Atlanta, but in the end the Chicago pub pulled away for their fourth straight Best Soccer Bar award with 29.1 percent of the votes. Summers in Arlington, Va., won the inaugural award in 2002, but since then Ginger’s patrons have voted early and often to make sure the Ashland Street location has walked away with the hardware as the top soccer viewing destination in the nation. Coming in third place was The Three Lions Pub, located in Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.

The Best Soccer Store went to Angelo’s Soccer Corner in Pennsylvania which corralled 22.5 percent of the vote. This was the first time Angelo’s finished in the top three, defeating last year’s winner Chicago Soccer and the Soccer Shack in Rochester, N.Y.

2006 Best of U.S. Soccer Results

Best Soccer Bar
1. Ginger’s Ale House (Chicago, Ill.) 29.1 %
2. Brewhouse Café (Atlanta, Ga.) 15.5 %
3. The Three Lions Pub (Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C.) 8.6 %
Best Soccer Store
1. Angelo’s Soccer Corner (Pennsylvania) 22.5 %
2. Chicago Soccer (Chicago, Ill.) 17.6 %
3. The Soccer Shack (Rochester, N.Y.) 12.1 %
Best Goal (presented by Sierra Mist)- Watch
1. Clint Dempsey vs. Ghana (June 22) 28.6 %
2. Sheanon Williams (U-17) vs. Turkey (Sept. 3) 16.3 %
3. Abby Wambach vs. Mexico (Nov. 22) 12.2 %
Best Kristine Lilly Goal - Watch
1. Nov. 4 vs. Canada – Seoul, South Korea 31.9 %
2. July 15 vs. Sweden – Blaine, Minn. 18.1 %
3. Oct. 31 vs. Australia – Cheonan, South Korea 16.4 %
Best Performance (Player)
1. Kasey Keller vs. Italy (June 22) 35.4 %
2. Kristine Lilly vs. China (January 22) 25.5 %
3. Abby Wambach vs. Mexico (September 13) 13.8 %
Best Performance (Team)
1. U.S. MNT 1, Italy 1 (June 17) 48.7 %
2. U.S. WNT 2, China 0 (January 22) 24.7 %
3. U.S. WNT 0, Germany 0 (March 15) 8.1%
Best all_access video - Watch
1. Hospital Visit in Kaiserslautern 23.0 %
2. U-20 WNT Ball Tricks Battle 17.9 %
3. Beep Test 12.8 %
Best Action Photo - Launch Gallery
1. McBride Crunch 23.9 %
2. Gooch Pain 21.6 %
3. Snowed Out 15.1 %
Best U.S. Fan Photo from the World Cup - Launch Gallery
1. Flag Over Kaiserslautern 42.4 %
2. Covered in Red, White and Blue 17.8 %
3. Uncle Sam and Elvis 11.5 %
Best U.S. Atmosphere
1. U.S. MNT 1, Italy 1 @ Kaiserslautern, Germany 27.5 %
2. U.S. MNT 1, Poland 0 @ Kaiserslautern, Germany 23.8 %
3. U.S. MNT 3, Japan 2 @ San Francisco, Calif. 16.3 %
Best Look/Style - Launch Gallery
1. Don’t Tread on Me Jerseys 21.4 %
2. World Cup Suits and Sunglasses 17.8 %
3. Oguchi Onyewu’s Cornrows 13.3 %