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Vote for U.S. Soccer Athletes of the Year

CHICAGO (November 30, 2006) – The finalists for each of the four prestigious U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Awards – Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female – have been announced by the sport’s governing body in the United States.

With the announcement, voting for the high profile annual U.S. Soccer awards begins at, with fans having the opportunity to make their selections through a multimedia voter interface once a day through Wednesday, Dec. 20.

The U.S. Soccer Male and Female Athletes of the Year awards are the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, dating back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, while the Young Male and Young Female awards were added in 1998.

The finalists for each award were nominated on the basis of: a) competing and excelling at the highest level (both at the national team and professional level) during the calendar year; b) exhibiting decorum on and off the field that reflects well on U.S. Soccer; and c) contributing toward the growth, development, credibility and popularization of soccer in the USA.

Online votes for the annual award will be tallied and equivalent to 50 percent of the total votes. As in years past, the other 50 percent will be represented by 100 votes compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives (from national team coaches to the National Board of Directors).

In addition to voting for the annual U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Awards, fans can also vote daily for the fifth annual series of “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards until the Dec. 20 deadline. The 2006 “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards will be decided entirely by online fan votes submitted over the next month.

U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Candidates
Abby Wambach, Forward
With her second most productive season in her six-year national team career (17 goals, eight assists), Wambach began to etch her name into U.S. Soccer’s record books. With four multiple-goal games – including two hat-tricks – she surpassed Shannon MacMillan and moved into sixth place on the all-time goal scoring list. [detailed bio]

Kristine Lilly, Forward
At the age of 35, the USA captain hit the unfathomable total of 300 caps to begin the year, but she didn’t slow down. Lilly had her second-best scoring year ever in her amazing 19-year career for the Women’s National Team with 13 goals, eight that were either game-winning or game-tying strikes. [detailed bio]

Cat Whitehill, Defender
Although a forward as a youth player, her goal production in 2006 was remarkable as she almost doubled her career output with five goals – including a stunning 70-yard bomb off a free kick against Sweden – putting her at 11 for her career and becoming just the third defender in WNT history to score in double-digits. [detailed bio]

Hope Solo, Goalkeeper
The Richland, Wash., native more than doubled her career starts (18), wins (14), minutes (1680) and shutouts (10) in a year, while also decreasing her goals against average to 0.66. Solo came up with a numerous timely saves during the year to help the U.S. set its record-breaking wining streak. [detailed bio]

Leslie Osborne, Midfielder
Earning the confidence of the coaching staff and her teammates, ‘Ozzy’ has more than doubled her career appearances and starts. She also registered her first points with two goals and an assist, including a huge score against Canada in the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup Final. [detailed bio]

U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Candidates
Clint Dempsey, Midfielder
2006 proved to be the true international coming out party for ‘Deuce,’ the dynamic and flashy midfielder who electrified crowds with his enthusiasm as much as his moves. Dempsey netted an astounding four goals in nine games for the USA, including the team’s goal vs. Ghana in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. [detailed bio]

Bobby Convey, Midfielder
Establishing himself as one of the USA’s newest threats on the left flank, Convey impressed U.S. fans with his fearlessness in taking on defenders and serving dangerous balls from the wings. He also scored seven goals in 44 matches to help Reading FC to England’s top division. [detailed bio]

Brian McBride, Forward
McBride capped off a stellar 13-year international career by starting all three matches in Germany, and his tireless effort helped secure the 1-1 draw against eventual world champions Italy. He also had a standout season at Fulham, producing nine goals while being named the club’s top player by fans. [detailed bio]

Kasey Keller, Goalkeeper
The USA’s starter in goal for all three games at the World Cup, Keller was the No. 1 ‘keeper all year. His performance against Italy – which included a point-blank save on Alessandro Del Piero late in the game – personified the game-changing ability that has been his calling card for both club and country. [detailed bio]

Oguchi Onyewu, Defender
With the body of a linebacker and the heart of a lion, Onyewu turned in one of the better performances at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. ‘Gooch’ handled the assignments of marking two of the world’s most imposing attackers - the Czech Republic’s Jan Koller and Italy’s Luca Toni – with fearlessness and determination. [detailed bio]

Youth Female Athlete of the Year Candidates
Danesha Adams, Forward
A standout for both the U-20 and U-21 Women’s National Teams in 2006, Adams also earned her first cap for the senior Women’s National Team. She did her best work at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship, where she won the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third most valuable player and was named to the FIFA All-Star Team. [detailed bio]

Val Henderson, Goalkeeper 
The starting goalkeeper for the USA at the 2006 U-21 Nordic Cup, she also distinguished herself at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia. She played every minute of the three knock-out round games, giving up just one goal over the 330 minutes, including shutouts in both the semifinal against China and the third-place match against Brazil. [detailed bio]

Stephanie Lopez, Defender 
A starter for the U-20 Women’s World Championship, she also earned eight caps with the full National Team in 2006, playing in the Algarve Cup and the USA’s matches in Japan. She also came off the bench to make a major contribution to the USA’s 2-1 overtime victory against Canada in the 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup Final. [detailed bio]

Amanda Poach, Midfielder 
The skillful midfielder was one of the USA’s best players at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, picking up three assists in the tournament as she pulled the strings in the U.S. midfield. She was named to the FIFA All-Star Team following the completion of the tournament. [detailed bio]

Amy Rodriguez, Forward 
The powerful striker was a key player for the USA at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, scoring two goals, including one against Germany in the semifinal. She played in three matches for the senior Women’s National Team in 2006, all at the 2006 Algarve Cup. [detailed bio]

U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year Candidates
Josmer Altidore, Forward
Coming on late for the Red Bulls, ‘Jozy’ scored three goals, including two game-winners against Columbus and Chicago, and also scored their lone goal in the playoffs. Despite being the youngest player on the Under-20s, Altidore’s combination of speed and strength has a possible starting position for the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament next January. [detailed bio]

Quavas Kirk, Midfielder
Quavas logged just under 1,000 minutes, getting 10 starts in the 22 games in which he played and scoring two important goals during the Galaxy’s run to the 2006 Open Cup title match. During his first year with the U-20s, Kirk has been a consistent contributor and has even handled an occasional positional change from right midfield to right back as the coaching staff continues to figure out the best line-up to put on the field. [detailed bio]

Johann Smith, Forward
Smith has had a meteoric rise for club and country this year. He made the jump from Bolton FC’s reserve squad to the first team in October, earning his first appearance in a English Premier League match. Smith also played in five international matches with the Under-20s, tallying a goal and an assist. [detailed bio]

Nathan Sturgis, Defender
Sturgis was the first pick for the Los Angeles Galaxy (ninth overall) and won a starting spot on the backline by opening day, starting 15 matches before an injury ended his season. The anchor of the U-20 backline, he will no doubt be one of the leaders for the team during qualifying. [detailed bio]

Preston Zimmerman, Forward
Zimmerman attracted interest from numerous clubs overseas before settling at Hamburg SV in the German Bundesliga. Unable to play with the first team until he turned 18 (which he did on Nov. 21), Zimmerman has also contributed to the Under-20s, playing in seven of the teams 11 international games, tallying a goal and an assist. [detailed bio]

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